ll week I’ve been hearing Nighthawks calling as they fly over downtown Geneva. Loud, too. Sometimes their nasal “peent, peent” call sounded so loud they must have been just a dozen feet over my head. But somehow I never saw one.
Then last night, Carol and I went walking down toward the river at about seven o’clock. By the time we got to Second Street, I could hear that “peent, peent” overhead, but I still couldn’t see them. Carol was patient with me, even though I stopped every fifty feet or so — “That one was really loud! But I still can’t see it.”
She was patient with me, that is, until we got onto the State Street bridge, and I walked into her because I was looking up at the Nighthawks. “That hurt,” she said. I apologized, and then looked up again. Now I could see them everywhere.
Swarms of insects were rising up from the river — maybe Mayflies doing their mating flight, but I don’t know much about insects — thousands of insects, anyway. Hundreds of Chimney Swifts were flying over the river, chittering and flitting to and fro, feeding on the insects. And there were Nighthawks among the swifts, twenty or more of them, with their wings crooked back, fluttering back and forth, up and down the river, chasing insects and calling out “peent, peent!” No, more than twenty of them. Lots of Nighthawks.
Don’t ask my why I got so excited about Nighthawks last night. Maybe because of the flittery way they fly. Maybe because they only come out at dusk, or because they’re close relatives of Whipoorwills. Or maybe because they are one of the last migrants to come north, a sign that spring is coming to an end.
The sun set amid white and gold clouds. An hour later, the moon rose in the cool evening air, orange and huge on the horizon. Summer’s almost here.