Resting Common Nighthawk in Northern Utah – My Best Find of the Day

/, Box Elder County, Common Nighthawks, Utah/Resting Common Nighthawk in Northern Utah – My Best Find of the Day

Common Nighthawk resting on a red gateCommon Nighthawk resting on a red gate – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I saw and photographed my first of the year Common Nighthawk yesterday in northern Utah after I found it resting on a red gate about mid-morning. Common Nighthawks rest during the day and feed on flying insects during dusk and dawn and they can be found in most of North America during their breeding season.

I wish I had found this one earlier in the morning when the light was softer and when the sun hadn’t been quite so high. I see this species on the wing far more than I see them resting so I felt I had to take photos of it even though the light wasn’t the best.

Common Nighthawk adultCommon Nighthawk adult – Nikon D500, f10, 1/400, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was able to take a few images of the Common Nighthawk with a better light angle and a bit closer than I was in the first photo, close enough that the bird nearly filled the frame. I wish the nighthawk had opened its eyes but it never opened them much more than is shown in this photo.

Common Nighthawk on a red gate in Box Elder CountyCommon Nighthawk on a red gate in Box Elder County – Nikon D810, f11, 1/500, ISO 320, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 50mm, natural light

I wanted to include a wide angle photo that showed the nighthawk resting on the red gate from the same location where I took the photo above. Having a long lens allows me to take frame filling images of birds without having to be right up on the bird and without disturbing them.

After taking a few more images of the resting Common Nighthawk it was time to head back home. Life is good.



  1. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver June 5, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Big treat this morning! So rare to find one in daylight hours resting. Even in your assessment of less than ideal light, loving feather detail. We’re on a nighthawk migratory route and enjoy watching for them in September. Nighthawks declining precipitously in parts of New England.

  2. Utahbooklover June 4, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Very nice, especially the detail in the second image. I first saw these in Manti, Utah, in the late evening when the temple lights were on, which attracted many insects. From our motel they looked like bats but as i got closer I noticed long, pointed wings with a white patch on each wing that allowed me to identify them as Nighthawks – very exciting to watch. For sounds:

  3. Elephants Child June 4, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Such an incredibly beautiful bird. I suspect that plumage makes for GREAT camoflague on the ground.

  4. Patty Chadwick June 4, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Who are these other McPhersons? If they’re relatives, I hope they know how lucky they are!!!

    • Mia McPherson June 4, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Hi Patty, Both Diane McPherson and Bob McPherson found me on Facebook, I guess by searching last names but I don’t believe we are related and if we are it is from many, many generations ago.

  5. Patty Chadwick June 4, 2017 at 8:13 am

    I’ve never seen a Nighthawk perched in anything before…have only seen them darting around on the wing or hunkered down on the ground, so well blended in with the stones and pebbles, I almost stepped on them…Even perched, they look like rocks…wonderful detail I’d never get to see otherwise…love it!

  6. M Bear June 4, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Another wonderful portrait of a bird in its habitat!

  7. Diane McPherson June 4, 2017 at 7:54 am

    So Knowledgeable and so Amazing are you..

  8. Bob Mcpherson June 4, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Beautiful photos, Mia. First of those I have seen.

  9. Liz Cormack June 4, 2017 at 5:06 am

    I have never seen a Common Nighthawk. So different looking. Great photos… the scenery.

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