Goatsucker Initiative

Four Harbors Goatsucker Initiative

In late August 2017, Four Harbors Audubon Society began 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 were observed migrating over the pond at Frank Melville Park, and to the delight of all, dropped down to feed at very close range.  That momentous day, two of us, independently, but drawn together by the nighthawks’ aerial insect-catching maneuvers, watched and counted at the stone bridge.   The following fall, Four Harbors voted to institute the Frank Melville Stone Bridge Nighthawk Watch, a census to determine common nighthawk migratory numbers at this site, and one that we hoped would help to determine nighthawk population trends. 

The Goatsucker Initiative, a morph of this original plan, is so much more than counting nighthawks each autumn at the Stone Bridge. All three of our local nightjar species: chuck-will’s-widow, whip-poor-will, as well as 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 goatsuckers,  as has been the outcome with so many of our other native species. Our plan is to lobby for greater protections for all three members of the nightjar family. Four Harbors has already petitioned the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on their behalf.  This website page is devoted to our efforts, and you will find all news and updates posted in this location.

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

Common Nighthawk Watch 2017

Goatsucker Article in the Times Beacon Record

Petition to DEC