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4275 Nighthawks!

September 10, 2014
IMG_5793 (2)b

One of 4275 nighthawks documented from Curry Hammock State Park on 9/10/14. Photo by Kerry Ross.

A breathtaking total of 4,275 nighthawks – presumed Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) – were tallied today between 09:30 and 14:39 hrs from the FKH observation deck at Curry Hammock State Park, Little Crawl Key.

For the past fall seasons we have been documenting large numbers of migratory nighthawks engaged in diurnal flights due south, detected as they cross the narrow landmass of the Middle Keys and continue southward over open water in general direction towards Cuba.

FKH Nighthawk Video ICON

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO – Nighthawks in flight taken with a Leica V-Lux 4 camera.

Today we surpassed our high counts of nighthawks from all previous years. Time and again we witnessed the passage of nighthawks in flocks ranging from roughly 70 to 500 individuals each, sometimes coming directly over our count site, other times spotted over a kilometer away. Nearly all flocks trended S to SE, and were tracked as the birds moved towards the ocean, and were finally lost in sight. Our hourly count was 568 (09:00-10:00 hrs), 254 (10:00-11:00), 1739 (11:00-12:00), 1079 (12:00-13:00) and 635 (13:00-14:00) for a total of 4275!

Nighthawk Passage and Weather

The weather was quite variable in the Middle Keys this day, with winds ranging from 2-13 km/h pushing bands of clouds and rain over the region. Cloud cover in general was dense and low, averaging 79% throughout the day (100% 13:00-16:00 hrs), and as low as 1500 ft in altitude. The map above (left) shows blue arrows indicating the general trajectory and line of detection of nighthawks crossing our monitoring area. The radar image on the right shows weather over South Florida from 1pm – 2pm.

Counters were Kerry Ross, Brehan Furfey, Alexander Harper, Moe Morrissette and Rafael Galvez.

Additionally, we tallied an impressive 790 southbound Eastern Kingbirds, 2195 Barn Swallows, and many individuals of numerous migratory bird species – culminating in an unforgettable day of migration in the Florida Keys!!!

Mantengan un vistazo al cielo en Cuba – alla van los Querequetés migratorios!!!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Robin Diaz permalink
    September 10, 2014 8:04 pm

    What a fantastic day! Congratulations, everyone!! Thousands of Common Nighthawks were seen yesterday (9/9/14) along the coast of NC. Same birds?

  2. September 10, 2014 10:04 pm

    Exciting movement!!! Yesterday, at 458pm, I saw a huge movement of Common Nighthawks over my home in Seminole County that I estimated at 2700. That was over just a couple minutes of time; it took me almost a minute to count them. Your nighthawks started arriving about 16 1/2 hours after my observation. It is about 350 miles distance between the two points. Regardless if any of mine were in with your birds, it is exciting to see migration in all its forms!!!

  3. Susan Sorensen permalink
    September 12, 2014 11:50 am

    Just fascinating watching these huge numbers of nighthawks flying together; what a treat!

  4. Rob Woodward permalink
    September 13, 2014 7:19 pm

    We had a record high season tally of over 6,000 nighthawks at my nighthawk migration study site in Concord, NH. Our peak day of 2,800 was on August 24.

    I didn’t realize they migrated in this direction since the Birds of Cuba says it is a uncommon fall migrant!

    Rob Woodward
    Concord, NH

  5. Paula Cannon permalink
    September 15, 2014 9:57 am

    Great video! The same day, sept.10, I saw about 100 fly over Big
    Pine Key at 9:12 a.m. Flying very low in a heavy line heading south!

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