Recently, a friend from Hungary sent me a poem about a European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) that schoolchildren often recite. These birds are closely related to Common Nighthawks and have a similar appearance.
Here’s a video of a Hungarian girl reciting the poem.
It translates (loosely) to:
“I saw, I saw nightjar!
At night, I fell into the woods existence,
the fox-hunter and I.
There was definitely no light, no house,
but we went.
Then in the sky, the black sky
something flew in the darkness,
something flew: nightjar!
two flame eyes, two tiny lamps,
gurguling-tones trailing afterwards.
The two of us saw it, no one else,
the fox-hunter and I.”
It reminds me of my first two field seasons of evening point counts. Often the only other witnesses to the nighthawks were curious crepuscular mammals — foxes and badgers. I like to think that halfway around the world, nightjar enthusiasts are experiencing much the same thing I did.