Reader Stephen Barnard from Idaho sent three photos of the common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor). As he pointed out to me, they’re closely related to the nightjar (they are both in the family Caprimulgidae), but they are much easier to spot. See?
Where are its feet? As Wikipedia notes:
Nighthawks have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically coloured to resemble bark or leaves. Some species perch facing along a branch, rather than across it as birds usually do. This helps to conceal them during the day. The female lays two patterned eggs directly onto bare ground.
They are mostly active in the late evening and early morning or at night and feed on moths and other large flying insects. The bill opens very wide and has a slightly hooked upper tip.
Nighthawks are similar in most respects to the nightjars, but have shorter bills and plumage that is less soft. Nighthawks are less strictly nocturnal than many nightjars and may be seen hunting when there is still light in the sky.
A further note on its flight:
The flight of the Common Nighthawk is erratic and jerky, as it attempts to prey on various flying insects. Its call is a short, harsh, buzzy sound. The white bands on its underwings are easily seen as it flies in the evening, at an altitude that is often well above the treetops. Also of note is nighthawks’ mating ritual. Males will gain considerable altitude, then perform a power dive; as they pull up from the dive, the wings make a sudden, low sound that is called “booming”.
To see this flight, as well as to appreciate how hard it must have been to take these photos, here’s a video of its hunting: