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Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis


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Lesser Nighthawk
credit: Jerry Oldenettel/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Caprimulgidae, Nightjars view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has brown plumage overall, darkest on crown and palest and most finely marked on back and wing coverts. Primaries and secondaries are mainly dark, but with rows of buff spots and white band, the latter most obvious on underwing in flight. Tail is barred and appears squareended or only slightly forked. Has white throat patch and underparts are otherwise buff with dark barring. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but throat and wing patches are buff. JUVENILE Similar to adult.

Dimensions Length: 8-9" (20-23 cm)

Habitat Fairly common summer visitor (mainly Apr-Sep) to arid habitats in southwest.

Observation Tips Sometimes hawks insects around streetlights in desert towns.

Range Texas, Southwest, Southeast, California, Florida

Voice Male's call is a trilling whistle.

Discussion Recalls Common Nighthawk, but smaller and with relatively shorter wings and tail. Pale wing patch is relatively closer to wing tip than in Common. Also distinguished using voice. Plumage is more rufous overall; intricate patterning affords roosting bird superb camouflage on ground. More strictly nocturnal than Common Nighthawk and seldom seen in daylight, except when flushed by chance. Sexes are separable with care.