Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Mountain Stage and Nighthawks in the Mountain State

My wife and I fulfilled a dream a several years this past weekend when we journeyed south to Charleston to see Mountain Stage performed live at the Cultural Center. There was a packed audience to see Los Lobos and four other musical groups. Our favorite was The Joanna Connor Band.

After the performance we drove to the Fifth Quarter restaurant to get a bite to eat. As we walked across the parking lot, a Common Nighthawk was displaying in the last rays of daylight. This is my first sighting of a nighthawk this summer. When we moved to the Eastern Panhandle city of Martinsburg in the late 1980s, the calls of nighthawks were heard nightly on hot, humid summer evenings, but I have not heard them there since the early 1990s. I miss them. This is a phenomenon that has occurred across the country. Common Nighthawks in the eastern United States, for example, have been steadily declining at a rate of about 4.6 percent per year since 1966. As a result, breeding populations today are only about one-third of what they were just 35 years ago.


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