Nighthawks and Parking Lots

Nighthawks are a generalist species, meaning they have tried many habitats throughout their evolution. One innovation when grasslands started to disappear was the rooftop habitat. But as flat, gravel rooftops start to dwindle because new roofing materials without camouflage for nighthawk eggs are on the rise, nighthawks are finding new urban habitats, like parking lots. In my study, when nighthawks lost their rooftop habitat atop the Yankton Mall in South Dakota, nearby warehouse workers noticed a nest in the parking lot. To help them out, they placed orange construction cones around the nest and hoped for the best.

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The Nocturnal Biome

I used to think that nocturnal birds like the nightjars held onto an ancestral trait. It’s been a hypothesis that ancestral birds and mammals became nocturnal to avoid the high points of dinosaur activity. If that’s so, we now are starting to notice the return to nocturnal habitats to avoid the new dinosaurs, ourselves.