Lesser Nighthawk

Chordeiles acutipennis
Range Map

The Lesser Nighthawk breeds in open country from southwest United States through Central America to tropical South America. Those found in the USA mostly retreat from the United States and northern Mexico during the winter months and stay in southern Mexico, Central America and tropical regions of South America.

When I first met these birds at the Salton Sea, and I heard their song, I wasn’t sure what birds I was hearing. I knew it was like an Eastern Screech Owl, but the phrasing was almost a minute, instead of the owl’s song of a few seconds. The owl would have been far beyond its native range. When I listened to a recording of the Lesser Nighthawk, I knew it was my bird.

Today’s scientific community recognises seven subspecies of Lesser Nighthawk:

  • C. a. texensis breeds from southwestern USA to northwestern Mexico. They spend winter from the southern part of the breeding range, south through Central America and northwestern Colombia.
  • C. a. micromeris lives in the northern Yucatan Peninsula.
  • C. a. littoralis lives in southern Mexico, south to Panama.
  • C. a. acutipennis lives in Trinidad, Tobago and across northern South America, east of the Andes, and south to Brazil.
  • C. a. crissalis lives in central Colombia.
  • C. a. aequatorialis lives in Colombia, and south to Ecuador.
  • C. a. exilis lives in western Peru.

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