Common Nighthawk

Chordeiles minor

Order

CAPRIMULGIFORMES

Family

Nighthawks and Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Code 4

CONI

Code 6

CHOMIN

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Common Nighthawk is a nightjar that resides in the open country of North America, including widespread areas of the United States. This species may also be found in burned forest areas. They nest on the bare ground, and at times atop stumps or roofs. In winter months, the Common Nighthawk will migrate to South America, and rarely to western Europe. This species migrates in flocks. They hunt for food at dawn and dusk, catching flying insects on their wings. Due to maintained and increased populations of the Common Nighthawk, the current conservation rating of this species is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Common Nighthawk: Medium nightjar with white-speckled, dark upperparts, black-and-white barred underparts, mottled breast, white throat. Wings are long, dark gray with white bars, nearly covering tail when folded. Gray-brown legs and feet. Darting erratic flight with frequent changes of direction.


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.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"peeant", "beant"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Analyses of stomach contents have revealed a single bird eating upwards of 500 mosquitoes in a single day.
  • In the Southern United States, it is sometimes mistaken for a bat when spotted flying erratically at dusk.
  • The Common Nighthawk’s folk name is “goatsucker." This refers to the myth that this bird, with its large mouth, actually suckled goats.
  • A group of nighthawks are collectively known as a "kettle" of nighthawks.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Common Nighthawk

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Imran Kahn

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX
Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.
UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
BreastX
The upper front part of a bird.
GapeX
Also called commissure, it is the hinge where the mandibles meet.
Rictal bristlesX
The short and stiff feathers near the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X