July 31, 2021

Not Extinct Yet


That is what I felt when I heard the distinctive call of a common nighthawk overhead. 


I looked up, and there it was, catching insects as it flew above me. 

It looked lonely, perhaps only because I know that the species has been in decline for decades.

A few days later in the same place I saw three nighthawks hunting and buzz diving together. 

Elation times three.

"Not extinct yet," I thought with a smile.

Numbers of common nighthawk over southern Canada have fallen about 70% since 1970.

This could be why.  

The insect apocalypse: ‘Our world will grind to a halt without them’


"Few people seem to realise how devastating this is, not only for human wellbeing – we need insects to pollinate our crops, recycle dung, leaves and corpses, keep the soil healthy, control pests, and much more – but for larger animals, such as birds, fish and frogs, which rely on insects for food. Wildflowers rely on them for pollination. As insects become more scarce, our world will slowly grind to a halt, for it cannot function without them."

No insects, no things that need insects to survive.

If the bottom of the food chain breaks down, eventually everything above that critical foundation will also fall.

All the way up to us.

And yet, there are the nighthawks, calling and soaring and insect-eating right above me.

It is possible, like the common nighthawks, that humanity might hold strong against current tendencies toward extinction, and survive until conditions on Earth improve for all life.

It may be unlikely, but it is one possibility.

The birds overhead give me hope that we will find our wings soon, and as a species take flight toward the better world we know is possible.

One that has room for nighthawks.

Status of the Common Nighthawk 

Status history: Designated Threatened in April 2007. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in April 2018.

The species is ranked as Not at Risk globally (G5), Apparently Secure (N4B) in Canada and Secure (N5B) in the United States. However, it is considered as Critically Imperilled (S1), Imperilled (S2), or Vulnerable (S3) in 14 of 48 states and nine of 13 provinces and territories in which it occurs. In the remaining provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario) it is ranked Apparently Secure (S4) or Secure (S5).

Threats and Limiting Factors

Widespread threats that may have an important impact include reduced abundance of aerial insects due to effects of agricultural and other pesticides, changes in precipitation and hydrological regimes, changes in temperature regimes, and increasing frequency of severe or extreme weather events. Several other threats have been proposed, but appear to be less severe or affect only a small proportion of the population.


  1. There is an elm tree within easy hearing distance of my apartment that fills with common grackles every morning at sunrise. Oh, the cacophany! After a few days of feeling aggravated at this early morning alarm from nature I decided to take page out my cat Rocky's book of living - every morning he sits on the windowsill with his head cocked, ears twitching when the symphony reaches fever pitch, just soaking it all in and listening. Smart cat. Now, instead of grumbling, we all welcome the new day together.


Comments will be printed after moderation to eliminate spam. We are proudly a no buying, no selling website.

We enjoy reading all comments, and respond when time permits.

If you put a name to your comment we can all recognize you for your contribution.

Thank you for visiting and commenting.