The nighthawk is a bird full of contraries. It is not a hawk at all and seldom feeds at night.
Being most visible at dawn and dusk, it ﬂies in bat-like loops of continuous ﬂapping and sporadic glides and has even been called a bullbat.
It has a tiny beak but a cavernous mouth (like baleen whales), good for gathering large quantities of insects in brightly lit areas such as stadiums and under streetlights. They also have tiny legs and feet and seldom perch, preferring sitting or lying on the ground, gravel roofs and beaches, remaining very still.
Their colouring of grey, white, buff and black allows them to be well hidden in plain sight. Still they are on the “species at risk” list because of their great vulnerability to cats.
This particular nighthawk was hit by a car at the ﬁrehall on Cranberry Street. It was noticed by a keen observer, lying on the driveway and quickly rescued by Powell River WildLife Orphaned Society president Merrilee Prior, who can provide a safe recovery from concussion.
After a few days of rest and stretching of its wings in a larger cage, it was released on Valentine Mountain, where nighthawks spend their summers nesting and flying.