Barry Kent MacKayArt by Barry Kent MacKay
Art and Photo Presentation

In this section are copies of original works of art. All of them are dedicated to helping us live according to unconditional love and compassion, which is the foundation of our peaceful means of bringing true and lasting peace to all of God's creatures, whether they are human beings or other animals.

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)


Barry Kent MacKay bird art
(Artwork - 085)
Common Nighthawk
(Chordeiles minor)

The Common Nighthawk is not, of course, a hawk, but rather a nightjar, in the family Caprimulgidae, which includes species called Whip-poor-wills, Poorwills, Chuck-willís Widows, as well a wide variety of species called nightjars. They all have tiny beaks, large eyes, tiny feet, soft plumage and they all feature extremely cryptic colour patterns in various shades of brown, rust, tan and grey, often with bold white wing and tail markings. A few species have extremely ornate individual wing feathers. They have very large mouths, often (but not always, this species does not) have well-developed rictal bristles (hair-like feathers around the mouth, and are often most active at dusk or at night. They tend to have distinctive voices, in some cases, quite melodic, others less so. They feed on flying insects. At least one species can hibernate, others are migratory, and others are able to remain in their respective environments year-round.
The Common Nighthawk has a huge range, being found throughout most of temperate North America, as well as through Central America to southern Panama. They are quite migratory, wintering in much of South America east of the crest of the Andes. There are generally nine subspecies recognized, of which the one I illustrated, the nominate race, is the most widely distributed, being found breeding throughout most of temperate Canada, and much of the eastern and Midwestern U.S. It can be seen on migration in Bermuda and the West Indies, and so is a strong flyer, with long, pointed wings.
They show a wide range in weight with 80 grams being about average. They nest on gravel and bare ground or on leaf or pine-needle litter, or sand, and usually lay two eggs. They have adapted to nesting on flat gravel roof tops in my region, but the down side of that is that the Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) has, in recent decades, learned to nest on fat rooftops as well, and they eat the eggs and young of other species. This may account for a decline in numbers of Common Nighthawks, at least in my region. When I was young we used to see huge flocks flying over the city streets Ė they were easy to see because they would call with a very distinctive, nasal call. I rarely see such flocks these days.
The painting is life size and was commissioned. The patron was extremely specific about how he wanted the bird to appear, with the bird flying from left to right, others in the background, and a specific field with woods beyond in the picture. I have yet to hear if heís satisfied. Rhe painting is done in acrylics on Masonite panel.

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Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
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