Lesser nighthawk

Lesser nighthawk
Chordeiles acutipennis

Photo by Pat Gaines (Flickr)

Common name:
lesser nighthawk (en); bacurau-de-asa-fina (pt); engoulevent minime (fr); añapero garrapena (es); Texasnachtschwalbe (de)

Order Caprimulgiformes
Family Caprimulgidae

This species breeds in the southern United States, from California to southern Texas, and also in most of Mexico and in some areas of Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela and northern Brazil. The more northern populations migrate south to winter along Central America and northern South America as far south as central Brazil, Bolivia and northern Chile.

These birds are 20-22 cm long and a wingspan of 50-55 cm. They weigh 40-50 g.

The lesser nighthawk is mostly found in tropical dry scrublands, but also in tropical high altitude scrublands, tropical wet grasslands and degraded patches of former tropical forest. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

They hunt at dusk and during the night, taking  small insects such as winged ants, mosquitoes, beetles, moths and grasshoppers.

The lesser nighthawk breeds in April-July. They nest on the ground, often among rocks or gravel, and the female lays 2 pinkish-yellow eggs with grey speckles. The eggs are incubated by the female for 18-20 days. The chicks are fed by the mother and fledge 20 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as scarce. In the United States the population has undergone a small increase in the last 4 decades, but this represents less than 50% of the species range and in other areas they are likely affected by habitat loss.

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