Now...essentially these are the same as the elevation itself is going to be the deciding factor. If you haven't tried it yet...come out to the desert and simply drive around after dark. Your headlights will attract em...just drive. Pretty easy to 'bird by car' this way. Driving along I take note of where I am and know the elevation. Lesser Nighthawks are below 5000' feet while common ones will range about 5000'.
So..as we start out from my house which is round 3000' feet, any nighthawk I find will be a lesser nighthawk, and the ones I fine closer to Madera Canyon proper, will be common nighthawks. It will be the ones 'in-between'; around 4000-4500'' elevation that I will have to worry about.
Sounds like a plan....off we go. Into the night to find who meets me in the night, for quite frankly I don't care about the morning as I will be asleep. We travel and get past most houses and find ourselves in the land of the 'wicked', at night that is. I like to think myself as being liberal and, as to be honest, I have what I need and no use just denying someone else an opportunity just because. But high country in Arizona means a bit more than just what people think of me, but rather, what I accidentally might stumble upon at night.
We travel on into the dark. Lights awaken our illusion of being alone...of being in the night. Flashlights upon us. We stop..... for it isn't just one light but actually several and from several directions, all aimed at us. I think....I think I tell ourselves that we have just 'stumbled a bit' onto what exists here in AZ at night, and all,...all to find a common or lesser nighthawk.
As one drives to Madera Canyon you see....you have a few options. You can continue up the gorge and into the Canyon where you elevate your height stature to above 6000' rather quickly and see the common nighthawk with ease, or...you do what we did and take the left turn. I know we didn't miss the left turn at Albuquerque as one would think if you remember the Hanna Barbara cartoons but we did take the left, and not just 'miss the left'
Strange as it might be though, we stumbled onto the 'right..... the right being Border Patrol and all decked out in what appears to us to be giant flashlights. But as a flashlight approached us, and then another....prying into the backseat with falsity, we were told that this is not too 'safe of a place to be at' ...whether we were birding or existing.
Now,....think of this. Not too safe of an idea? Really? Frankly, it is 'you' who make it a bit unsafe with your guns and lights and attitude while if you were not around; guess what....? We would have found our lesser nighthawks by now and if we did by chance happen to find a group of strangers making their way to a life, then so be it. We would be safe....After all we have 'locks on the doors'...
But the fact remains one unchanged or one that we could change and understandably so. We backed up and edged out and took the high route to Madera Canyon and saw Common Nighthawks. Perhaps as we came down and made our way to 'safety' we might have seen a lesser nighthawk. Not sure, but our minds were not on that, but rather just in the grasping of the morning. So not just 'meet me in the night' but we did now understand the 'morning aspect of it all'...