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Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Birds Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)

General Description: Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) are medium-sized, mottled gray birds of the night. The wings are long, narrow, and pointed, with a white bar across the wing. The white bar is about half way between the wrist and the tip of the wing (in Lesser Nighthawks, the white wing bar is closer to the tip). The tail is deeply forked.

Males and females differ. Males have a white throat patch and a broad white bar across the end of tail. Females have a buffy throat patch and lack the broad white bar on the tail.

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)

Common Nighthawks usually fly at dusk and at night catching moths and other insects in the dark, but they sometimes can be seen flying high above the ground during the day. In particular, males display during the day where they "peent" and dive sharply to catch wind in their tail feathers and make a buzzing noise.

Poorwills also fly at night, but their wings are all brown, and the call is "poor-will."

Taxonomy: Caprimulgiformes, Caprimulgidae, Chordeilinae.

Favored Habitat: Open desert; also nest on flat urban roofs.

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)

Where to Find: Watch the open sky where they sometimes can be seen high above the ground. Lesser Nighthawks also fly at dusk, but usually quite close to the ground (below shrub level).

Comments: Common Nighthawks usually sleep during the day on horizontal tree branches or urban roofs, but they like fence rails too.

Note: All of these photos were taken in Oregon, far north of the range of Lesser Nighthawks.

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) Common Nighthawk male; note the white bar on the tail and white throat patch; also note the large gape on these birds.
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) Common Nighthawk female; note the buffy throat patch and lack of a broad white bar on the tail.
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) Common Nighthawk in flight. Note that the white bars on the wings are about half way between the wrist and the tip of the wing (compare with Lesser Nighthawk).
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Common Nighthawk male
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Common Nighthawk female
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Common Nighthawk female
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Fence rails are good places to look for Common Nighthawks
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Tree branches are good places to look for Common Nighthawks
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Rocky grounds are good places to look for Common Nighthawks

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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