Common Nighthawk

Chordeiles minor




Goatsuckers (Caprimulgidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White to pale olive buff with brown and gray spots

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground., 0-8 feet above ground, On fence rails and graveled roofs.

Nest Material:

No nest materials.





Common Nighthawk: Medium-sized, lanky nightjar with white-speckled, dark upperparts, black-and-white barred underparts, mottled breast, and white throat. Wings are long and dark gray with white bars, nearly covering tail when folded. Female and juvenile have gray throat patch.

Range and Habitat

Common Nighthawk: Breeds throughout the continental U.S., with the exception of the extreme southwest, and much of Canada. Winters are spent in South America. Well-adapted to urban life: flat-topped gravel roofs provide nesting habitat and lighting systems around buildings serve as foraging areas for insects.

Breeding and Nesting

Common Nighthawk: Lays two white to pale olive buff eggs, spotted with brown and gray, in a small ground depression or, in cities, on flat gravel rooftops. Female incubates eggs for approximately 19 days. Young are semi-precocial and start to fly at around 23 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Common Nighthawk: Feeds on mosquitoes, flying ants, moths, beetles, and other insects. Forages day or night on the wing, up to 600 feet above the ground, with its enormous mouth surrounded by bristles ideally suited for aerial capture; alternates slow, full wing beats with bursts of quick shallow beats while hunting. Sometimes feeds on insects attracted to lights. Drinks in flight, skimming the water surface with lower mandible.


Common Nighthawk: Call is made in flight, a repeated, nasal "peent." Wings produce a hollow booming sound when pulling out of a steep dive, lending to the common name of Boom Bat in the south.

Similar Species

Common Nighthawk: Lesser Nighthawk has white band on wing nearer wingtips, with primaries above the band showing buff spots.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
Lower mandibleX
The lower part of the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X