By Alkali Springs Correspondent
This has been a beautiful week in the beautiful Bear Paws. In fact, if it ever got itself into a rainy pattern for a short time, and if judging by the Rocky Mountains is any sort of a pattern, or Canada for that matter, we will have a blanket of white before you know it.
A friend called the other day and said that for most of the summer she had had nighthawks in her yard at night. We remember them well because at Alkali Springs it seemed like we had scads of the birds and it took years for us to find out what they were.
We would sit outside at night and hear these sort of muffled booms in the sky above us. First we thought they were bats, but then someone told us that we had quite literally scores of nighthawks and they were "dive bombing" for bugs hundreds of feet and the noise we heard was the wind through their wings. Most interesting.
Our big old bird book is even more interesting on the subject of nighthawks.
"Like the Whip-poor-will, the nighthawk has always been counted a more or less mysterious, not to say uncanny bird. The term nighthawk' is applied to the family, has some justification in the case of the nighthawk for the bird's note certainly is not melodious. But the term hawk' is misleading for the bird is in no sense a hawk, but in reality is a flycatcher, and a very industrious and useful one."
"The booming noise they make is due solely to the rush of the air through the taut feathers of the partly spread wings in which, of course, any orifice would greatly impede the bird's flight."
"The purpose of this thrilling high dive is not apparent. Perhaps it is a plunge after a fly or a beetle, though it seems unlikely that the bird could descry an insect at the distance covered by the fall, and it could have no reason for continuing the descent after the prey had been captured. Many birds would be accused of taking this grand tumble for the fun of it, but a sense of humor seems very foreign to the nighthawk."
And to think that all that noise is made by a bird just some ten inches long.
These birds really see the world. They breed as far north as the Yukon and winter in South America from Brazil to south to Argentina.
But around here, they sure do liven up quiet Bear Paw evenings around the time that darkness arrives.
We have been spending a lot of time in Glacier with Beaver Creek Park closed. Maybe a column about Glacier next week. And then we cannot forget a column about Bee Lucke and C. L. Stuart and fires. Coming soon.