The bull bat, or nighthawk, is a bird that gets the name "bull bat" from its erratic flight pattern similar to that of a bat, according to "The Birds of North America." Other names for the nighthawk include mosquito hawks, night jars and goat suckers. While one of its names is "nighthawk," this bird isn't a true hawk but more closely related to swifts. This bird inhabits most of the United States, parts of Canada and South America.
Unlike true hawks, the nighthawk "lacks talons and a large beak," says Outdoor Alabama. This bird has a small beak, large head and has a wingspan up to 24 inches. Its gray to darker brown coloring provides camouflage when it rests on the ground. It has a distinctive patch near the end of its wings, which can be viewed when the bird takes flight. Males and females have a similar appearance, but females lack the white tail striping that males have.
Habitat and Nesting
Bull bats live in parts of North America during the summer. They migrate to the warmer parts of South America during the winter. Females generally lay eggs in areas with little vegetation. Females don't construct nests and will lay eggs on the ground or on rooftops. Females lay eggs in clutches of up to two eggs. It can take up to 19 days for eggs to hatch. Both males and females will tend to their young by offering insects to the chicks.
Bull bats take flight during the early hours of dawn and at dusk. Males engage in a death-defying courtship. A male plunges toward the ground and spreads its wings outward to lift its body upward before hitting the earth. During its dive, a booming sound can be heard as a result of the wind rushing through the bird's feathers, according to Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife.
Because these birds' legs are toward the back of their body, they tend to rest upon the ground or in trees because walking is difficult and standing upright impossible. These birds predominantly prey upon flying insects. They can consume massive quantities and up to 500 mosquitoes have been found in the stomachs of one of these birds, according to Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife.