Stone Bridge Nighthawk Watch

Four Harbors Stone Bridge Nighthawk Watch

A Community Science Initiative – Volunteers Welcome

In late August 2017, Four Harbors Audubon Society (FHAS) launched what has become known as the Goatsucker Initiative. The idea for the Initiative was sparked on October 6, 2016 when a great number of Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) were observed migrating over the pond at Frank Melville Memorial Park, and to the delight of all, dropped down to feed at very close range. That momentous day, two FHAS board members independently, but drawn together by the nighthawks’ aerial insect-catching maneuvers, watched and counted at the stone bridge. The following fall, FHAS voted to establish the Frank Melville Stone Bridge Nighthawk Watch, an annual census to estimate Common Nighthawk migratory numbers at this site, and one that we hope will contribute to better understanding nighthawk population trends.

The Goatsucker Initiative, is much more than counting nighthawks each autumn at the Stone Bridge. All three members of the Caprimulgidae (Goatsucker) Family on Long Island — the Chuck-will’s-Widow (Antrostomus carolinensis), Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus), and the Common Nighthawk — are in steep decline in New York State. It is our goal to prevent the permanent loss of this fascinating family of birds, as has been the outcome with so many of our other native species. 

Join us on the bridge from August 26 to October 6, 5:30 pm to dusk.

 Below are links to the nightly counts as well as an article that appeared in the Times-Beacon Newspaper.

Common Nighthawk Watch 2017

Common Nighthawk Watch 2018

Common Nighthawk Watch totals 2017 and 2018

Goatsucker Article in the Times Beacon Record

Petition to DEC