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Nighthawk Observed in San Francisco

Joseph Mailliard
Publication Information
Journal: 
Condor
Volume: 
21
Issue: 
1 (January-February)
Section: 
From Field and Study
Year: 
1919
Pages: 
40

Nighthawk Observed in San Francisco

On the evening of September 18, 1918, I happened to be standing at my bedroom window, on the upper floor of the house, absentmindedly looking at the sky, when what appeared for the moment to be a far distant but exceedingly erratic sea-gull came above the horizon and at once attracted my attenlion. Numerous gulls had been flying over without special notice, but this individual seemed to have gone crazy as it flew into the west, or else was forgetting how to fly. Just when it nearly disappeared from view it suddenly turned and flew back almost directly overhead, disclosing the fact that instead of being a gull it was a nighthawk. The white wing bars were visible, yet it was not possible to locate their position accurately enough to state the species, but it was presumably a Pacific Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor hesperis). On looking at my watch it was exactly 7: 20 P. M. The incident was noted down as a matter of interest and as a record of date.

Three nights after this, that is, on September 21, I happened to be at the same window at the same moment, and across the sky flew the same, or another, nighthawk, again proceeding westward. This time it did not turn, but disappeared in the western sky. I went out into the street to have a wider view, but saw nothing further. Impressed by this repetition the next evening saw me early in the street, and on the lookout for more developments. At precisely 7:21 a nighthawk appeared in the east and pursued the same course as before, again disappearing toward the ocean. Each time the bird's course was about over and parallel wilh Pacific Avenue or Broadway. The next few evenings were foggy or lowering and the bird was not, seen again.

Joseph Mailliard

San Francisco, October 1, 1918

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