Lesser Nighthawk

Chordeiles acutipennis




Goatsuckers (Caprimulgidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White to gray with gray, brown and lavender spots

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

18 - 19

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

No nest materials.





Lesser Nighthawk: Medium-sized nightjar with gray and white mottled upperparts, white throat, and brown and white mottled underparts with dark belly bars. Wings are dark with conspicuous pale patches visible in flight. Tail is dark brown and has thin white bars across top. Female has pale brown throat and spots on inner primaries. Juvenile has buff throat and smaller wing bars.

Range and Habitat

Lesser Nighthawk: This species breeds across central California, Nevada, and southwestern Utah south across New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, and into Mexico. A few individuals winter in southern Florida. They winter from mid-Mexico southward. These birds prefer large open areas, including arid and semi-arid lowlands.

Breeding and Nesting

Lesser Nighthawk: Two white to gray eggs, spotted with gray, brown and lavender, are laid on the ground among small pebbles, with no nesting material used. Incubation ranges from 18 to 19 days and is carried out mostly by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Lesser Nighthawk: Diet includes small insects such as winged ants, mosquitoes, beetles, moths, and grasshoppers; forages by flying close to the ground, catching insects in the air; nocturnal, feeds late into the morning.


Lesser Nighthawk: On breeding grounds, makes a rapid, tremulous trill "chack, chack." Also gives a number of eerie, toad-like calls.

Similar Species

Lesser Nighthawk: Common and Antillean nighthawks have white patches closer to the bend of the wings.


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

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
Inner primariesX
The inner primaries are a group of feathers closest to the body on the wing of the bird. They are generally covered partially by the secondaries.
The primaries are the flight feathers specialized for flight. They are attached to the "hand" equivalent part of the wing.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X