She's got no rictal bristles to speak of, which is an interesting factoid about nighthawks. The closely related whip-poor-wills and chuck-will's-widows (all caprimulgids like the nighthawk) have giant rictal bristles coming out like whiskers. Go figure. Still thinking about that discrepancy.
Such gorgeous liquid eyes. When I found her they were perfect and rigor mortis had yet to set in. I think she'd been killed within a couple hours of my finding her, probably in the pre-dawn "rush hour" on my country road.
I hadn't noticed these cool white headlights on the leading edge of the wing, but I mean to look for them on the next migrating flock that floats over.
How about that herringbone underwing covert action?
Ahh. The pectinate (comblike) middle toenail. Used in preening. And you can see a filoplume hanging off it. So poignant, to think of her running through her feathers with her toes perhaps just before she fluttered into a truck grille. Well, as you can see, her tiny hooked bill isn't much good for preening. So she has a comb on her toe. I would so love to see how a nighthawk uses its pectinate nail.
I have often thought it would be handy to have a built-in hairbrush somewhere on a digit.
The right wing. Those white slashes are diagnostic for common nighthawk.
Beautiful underwing. In flight, common nighthawks look like drunken terns, zigging and zagging side to side up and down in pursuit of erratic insect prey. Or just because flying a straight line bores them.
I know the feeling.
So into the freezer with a date and place label she'll go, and thence to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, whose Zickefoose specimen collection is well over 100. I'd much rather be looking up at her than down. But she will not go to waste.