N is for Nighthawks! While the name might lead one to believe these are Birds of Prey; any bird that eats other birds or animals, these motley-looking birds do not and are commonly seen near rocky desert outcrops, sometimes even sitting on deserted roads, waiting for insects to wander by so they can flutter up and have a meal.
By day they’re known to roost horizontally (as opposed to other birds) on tree branches or in the shade of scrub brush on the ground. Their haunting cry is a familiar sound on moonlit summer nights or at dwindling dusk when they’re making their eerily silent low-flight rounds. Speaking of sounds, I could probably have done an entire A to Z Challenge on sounds of the desert at night!
They can be seen in daylight but other than distinctive white wing-bands, their camouflage is such that they blend in well with the desert floor. Though it may seem as if these birds disappear from our region in winter, they are the only North American birds known to hibernate and can sleep for days and even weeks at a time. This particular fact was reportedly discovered by one intrepid birder who ran across a nighthawk he thought was sleeping, but when he returned several days later to find the bird had not moved he touched it, and the bird awoke! I think I’d have jumped out of my skin!