Project Nighthawk Confirms Successful Nesting of Endangered Bird

A nighthawk mother and its chick on a rooftop in downtown Keene. This is the first confirmed nighthawk nest in Keene since 2012, and one of only three confirmed nighthawk nests in the entire state so far in 2016. (photo: Brett Amy Thelen)

Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) were once, well, common in cities throughout New Hampshire, where they nested on gravel roofs and fed on insects attracted to city lights. In recent years, however, these aerial acrobats have experienced a dramatic decline. Each summer, the Harris Center works with New Hampshire Audubon to coordinate volunteer nighthawk monitoring in Keene, one of the few cities in the Granite State where these endangered birds still breed.

We are excited to report that observations from our Project Nighthawk citizen scientists recently aided in the discovery of a nighthawk nest in downtown Keene − complete with a healthy fledgling. This is the first confirmed nighthawk nest in Keene in four years, and one of only three confirmed nests in the entire state so far this summer. The chick is still learning how to fly, but any day now it should be soaring in search of mosquitoes, moths, and other tasty morsels. For more information on this exciting discovery and on how to participate in  Project Nighthawk, contact Brett Amy Thelen at thelen@harriscenter.org.