Have you seen the nighthawk recently in Northeastern Iowa? They’ve begun their annual migration as far as over 6,000 miles away to South America. I saw hundreds on the late afternoon of Labor Day just west of Cedar Falls.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via YouTube

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via YouTube

Migrating birds are so abundant this time of the year, they have begun showing up on weather radar in the Midwest.

As the nighthawks spend the spring and summer months breeding and caring for their young in the Midwest, they begin their journey south before the insects disappear with the cold. Because nighthawks are not actually hawks at all. They're ‘aerial insectivores’ --- they eat bugs. Since they rely on insects for food, they won’t be back until it warms up, usually in May. They can be found devouring beetles, moths, grasshoppers, winged ants, and many others.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has listed the common nighthawk is a species of concern.

The Iowa DNR lists the common nighthawk trending on the decline in the state.

Nighthawks are not the only birds heading south this time of the year.

Iowa has six species of swallows, which are also beginning their migration.  Tree swallows, bank swallows, cliff swallows, barn swallows, Rough-winged swallows, and purple martins can all be found in Iowa.

Huge flocks of grackles will form dark clouds moving across the fields. By the time these birds reach their destination in the southeastern United States, there may be 30 million birds in a flock.

Patrice Bouchard @patriceb via Unsplash

Patrice Bouchard
@patriceb via Unsplash


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