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Recent Sighting:

Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor

Order: Caprimulgiformes — Family: Caprimulgidae

Identification

The Common Nighthawk varies in overall color from gray in birds of the northern Great Plains, to dark brown in the eastern race. Usually seen in flight, it has long pointed wings, a slightly forked tail, white underparts with dark barring, and a white bar across the primaries. The male is also marked with a white tail band and white throat, while the female lacks the white band and has a buffy throat.

Voice

The call is a nasal ‘peent’ ‘peent’.

Length

9.5in

Behaviour

Hunts mostly at dawn and dusk but is often seen hunting during daylight too. Otherwise it will spend the day roosting, often in the open on a post or wire.

Migration

Migrates in large flocks. Spring movement is in April and May, and fall movement is in September and October. Winters in South America.

Habitat

In the summer it can be found flying over any open habitat, including prairies, marshes, forest clearings, mountains, towns, farms, suburbs and cities.

Food

Flying insects.

Population trends

Common, but declining in some areas, probably due to use of pesticides.

Where in US

In breeding season it is found throughout the United States and Canada, with the exception of the frozen northern tundra and the low deserts of the extreme southwestern United States. In the fall it gathers in large flocks and migrates to South America.

Nests

No nest is built. It nests on a bare site on dirt, gravel, rock or sand. The nest can be located on beaches, in forest clearings, cultivated areas or flat graveled roofs.

Eggs

2, white to pale buff, heavily spotted and speckled with gray and brown. Single-brooded.

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