2015 Field Season

I study habitat, nest success and heat stress of the Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor).  I am interested in the impacts of climate change and the conversion of grasslands in eastern South Dakota. Starting in the summer of 2013, I have been conducting point counts around sunset to determine their habitat associations.  Then in 2014, I began finding nighthawk nests in urban areas to determine nest success, chick morphology and stress hormone levels in different urban habitats.  I also wanted to determine the association of between activity and weather (i.e. cloud cover, temperature) and temporal (i.e. moon phase, time to sunset) effects.  This year, with the use of others’ game cameras, I learned a lot about the challenges nighthawks face. Thank you to Bob Garner, Aaron Gregor, Joe Madison, and Jerry Warmbold for the use of their cameras!  Thanks to rooftop property owners for access.

Below are some of the images from the 2015 field season:



The search for nests (Photo: Drew R. Davis)





A one-day-old chick (Photo: Drew R. Davis)



Game Camera Photos:


Female feeding a chick


Female and chick


Coming in for a landing at a nest



The perilous survival of eggs on rooftops where maintenance workers make frequent visits.

WGI_0006 nest 13 2015

Mourning dove photobombing male, female and chick.  Male has pale throat patch.  Chick is the fluffy object next to the female.

WGI_0358 nest 13 2015

Two-week-old chick

WGI_0054 nest 1 2015

Nighthawk pair.  The male has the bright throat patch.


Female nighthawk and me


Female nighthawk on eggs


Female flying over rooftop nest during window washing work.