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Nighthawk (Common)

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Chordeiles minor
Nighthawk (Common)


They breed from the Yukon, across Canada to Labrador, and south to southern California, Florida, and South America. They spend the winter in South America.


They can be found in open woodlands, fields and even in towns and cities.

Body Traits

They are a medium-sized bird with a large head and a tiny bill. They are very well camouflaged, with brown, black, and gray coloring and a striped (barred) chest. When they fly, you can see their long, pointed, bent wings and a bright white patch near the wing tip. Males and females look alike.


The male displays for females during the breeding season. He flies up high and then dives straight to the ground, but stopping before he hits and turning back up again. This sudden change in directions causes a booming sound that helps bird watcher know there is a nighthawk near.


They fly after insects in the early mornings and evenings looking like a big bat in the low light.

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They don’t build a nest. The female lays 1-3 eggs on the ground in an open place, where she warms (incubates) them for almost 3 weeks.

Common nighthawk color diagram
Common nighthawk diagram


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Caprimulgiformes
Family: Caprimulgidae
Genus: Chordeiles
Species: C. minor

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