Common Nighthawk

Chordeiles minor
Range Map

Like many birds, the Common Nighthawk we can detect it by its call more readily than by sight. Its call is almost an explosion of electric-like sound. Males will also make a loud boom sound with their wings in diving flight. These birds migrate from their winter homes in most of South America fly to North America to raise the next generation, where we find them across nearly all the USA and most of Canada during summers.

Like many members of the Nighthawk Clan, these birds are most easily found during twilight. When they land on the ground, their camoflauge is so complete, they all but disappear.

Until my first trip to Texas in 2020, my only meetings with this species were in Oregon. My Texas encounter was with a bird, probably in migration on South Padre Island.

Science recognises nine subspecies of Common Nighthawk:

  • C. m. panamensis – breeds on the Pacific slopes of Panama and northern Central America
  • C. m. neotropicalis – breeds in southern Mexico and Central America
  • C. m. howelli – breeds in west central United States
  • C. m. hesperis – breeds in southwest Canada, the western interior of the United States
  • C. m. aserriensis – breeds from south-central Texas to northern Mexico
  • C. m. chapmani – breeds from southeast Kansas to North Carolina and southwards to Texas and Florida
  • C. m. sennetti – breeds in the northern Great Plains
  • C. m. henryi – breeds from south east Utah and southwest Colorado through mountains of west Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to northern Mexico
  • C. m. minor – breeds from southeast Alaska to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, and northern United States to Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Oklahoma

Click map markers to reveal further information