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Endangered Bird Nests Successfully at Keene State

From Brett Thelen, AVEO:

Tuesday, we confirmed the presence of a Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) nest on the rooftop of Elliot Hall at Keene State, with the successful hatch and likely fledging of TWO chicks! AVEO’s team of Project Nighthawk volunteers have been monitoring nighthawks above the skies of Keene throughout the summer in partnership with New Hampshire Audubon, in the hopes of documenting successful breeding of this state-endangered species. As it turns out, Keene State College staff at Elliot Hall had been watching a female nighthawk nest less than a foot from a second-floor office window all summer long – the mother nighthawk laid two eggs in mid-June, they hatched in early July, and they fledged in mid-July! KSC technicians took special care not to disturb the nest when they had to make repairs to a nearby rooftop air conditioning unit, and Cheryl Child provided confirmation by snapping some photographs (through the window) of the new mother, guarding her chicks.

Last Saturday, Campus Safety Officer Brendan Bosquet also took a photo of one of the fledglings resting on a ground-level windowsill at Huntress Hall, proof that at least one of the chicks has successfully fledged.

This is cause for celebration! Here’s why:

  • This is the first confirmation of a nighthawk nest in Keene since Project Nighthawk’s inception in 2007.
  • This is only the second indication of successful nighthawk breeding in Keene in the last six years (…the first being the Central Square fledgling back in 2009.)
  • This is one of only three confirmed nighthawk nests in all of New Hampshire in 2012.
  • This is the first successful rooftop nest anyone has been able to confirm in the entire state of New Hampshire since before 2007. (The other two confirmed rooftop nests, in Concord, did not produce chicks.)
  • In Concord, nighthawks have returned to nest again at successful nest sites, so we may be able to watch this gal raise her brood from the very beginning next year, now that we know where to look!

This nesting success is a hopeful sign for Keene’s nighthawks, and we wouldn’t have discovered it without our crew of dedicated, enthusiastic Project Nighthawk citizen scientists or the careful eyes of our colleagues at Keene State College. The nighthawks will be migrating to South America any day now, but if you see one roosting on the KSC campus in the next week or two, or if you’d like to volunteer for Project Nighthawk next summer, please contact me at or (603) 358-2065.

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Sarah Kossayda
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☎ 603-358-2119