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2013 ABA Bird of the Year: Common Nighthawk

Common-Nighthawk-Web-Badge-2013-ABA-Bird-of-the-YearEarlier this month, the American Birding Association announced this year’s Bird of the Year—and it’s the Common Nighthawk!

If you’re not familiar with this bird, the Common Nighthawk is a medium-sized nocturnal bird with a long, slender body and tapered wings. They have a miniscule bill, large eyes, a short neck and a very distinctive call. In flight, you can see their V-shaped, camouflaged body against the backdrop of the sky much easier than when they’re on the ground.

Here’s a good summary from ABA President Jeffrey Gordon on why the Common Nighthawk makes such a great species:

Nighthawks are full of contradiction: shy at times and dramatically demonstrative at others, often silent and often louder than any other creature of the evening, familiar, exotic, and strange. The range of dualities they encapsulate makes nighthawks, I believe, an ideal bridge between the “surface” attraction of the birds that nearly everyone rightly knows and holds dear – the robins and the geese and the doves – and that weirder, richer mosaic that has captured the hearts and mind and imaginations of those of us who bird.

Nighthawks aren’t your typical backyard bird, but it’s hard to look away if you are lucky enough to see one darting through the sky in the early mornings or late evenings, hunting for insects.

The ABA has done a great job in selecting unique and diverse birds, including the American Kestrel in 2011 and the Evening Grosbeak in 2012.

These are some more resources on where to learn about nighthawks.


Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. i liveout in the country and every spring and summer i set out side and wathch tthem dart and make the unmistaken call you have to be quick to see them .

  2. I saw one and it was a very nice bird.

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