Protecting and enhancing the natural values of Salt Spring Island and its surrounding waters

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Common Nighthawk

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Common Nighthawk 2017-05-15T11:43:24+00:00

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Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor

The common nighthawk is a medium-sized bird (22-24 cm) with a large head and a very small bill. Nighthawks are typically crespuscular, flying at dawn and dusk to feed on flying insects. They are quite camouflaged, having a mixture of black, browns and greys through their plumage as well as barring on their chests. They have white wing patches near the tip of their bent wings that can be easily seen during their erratic flight patterns. Females have a light brown throat, while males have a white throat. Nighthawks winter in South America, and spend the summer breeding season throughout much of North America. They lay two eggs on open ground, building no nest. Sometimes they will nest on gravel roofs. The call of the nighthawk is described as a raspy, nasal “peent”. The males also make a booming sound as the air rushes through their wings when they dive dramatically at females, juveniles, or intruders. Nighthawks have recently been listed as Threatened, as they have been serious declines through much of their range.

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Photo credits: 1. Ren Ferguson 2. Laura Matthias

CLASSIFICATIONS
  • Yellow
  • Threatened