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Successful Nighthawk Nest Confirmed at KSC

August 8, 2012   |   Brett Amy Thelen

A Rare Sighting

Yesterday, we confirmed the presence of a Common Nighthawk nest on the roof of Elliot Hall at Keene State College, with the successful hatch & likely fledging of two chicks!

Nighthawk mother with chicks on rooftop nest in mid-July. (photo © Cheryl Child)

The KSC nighthawks, as seen through an office window on the second floor of Elliot Hall. (photo © Cheryl Child)

Our team of Project Nighthawk volunteers have been monitoring nighthawks above the skies of Keene this summer, in the hopes of documenting successful breeding of this state-endangered species. As it turns out, KSC staff at Elliot Hall had been watching a female nighthawk nest less than a foot from a second-floor office window all summer long — the mother nighthawk laid two eggs in mid-June, they hatched in early July, and they fledged in mid-July! KSC HVAC technicians took special care not to disturb the nest when they had to make repairs to a nearby rooftop air conditioning unit, and KSC staffer Cheryl Child provided confirmation by snapping some photographs (through the window) of the new mother, guarding her chicks.

Last Saturday, a Campus Safety Officer at the College also took a photo of one of the fledglings resting on a ground-level windowsill at Huntress Hall, proof that at least one of the chicks has successfully fledged.

Cause for Celebration

Here’s why this is so special:

  1. This is the first confirmation of a nighthawk nest in Keene since Project Nighthawk’s inception in 2007.
  2. This is only the second indication of successful nighthawk breeding in Keene in the last six years.
  3. This is one of only three confirmed nighthawk nests in all of New Hampshire in 2012.
  4. This is the first successful rooftop nest anyone has been able to confirm in the entire state of New Hampshire since we started looking in 2007. (The other two confirmed rooftop nests, in Concord, did not produce chicks.)
  5. In Concord, nighthawks have returned to nest again at successful nest sites, so we may be able to watch this gal raise her brood from the very beginning next year, now that we know where to look!

These birds will be migrating to South America any day now, but if you see one roosting on the KSC campus in the next few weeks, or if you’d like to volunteer for Project Nighthawk next summer, please drop us a line.