Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)


French: Engoulevent d’Amérique German: Falkennachtschwalbe Spanish: Añapero yanqui

Caprimulgus minor

J. R. Forster

, 1771,

no locality = South Carolina, USA


Formerly considered conspecific with C. gundlachii, but the two are sympatric in S Florida. Proposed races divisus (Colorado) and twomeyi (SE Oregon to S Idaho) are synonymized with hesperis. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. minor (J. R. Forster, 1771) – most of C & S Canada S to N & NE USA.
  • C. m. hesperis Grinnell, 1905 – SW Canada and W USA.
  • C. m. sennetti Coues, 1888 – CS Canada and NC USA.
  • C. m. howelli Oberholser, 1914 – WC & SC USA.
  • C. m. henryi Cassin, 1855 – SW USA and CN Mexico.
  • C. m. chapmani Coues, 1888 – SE USA (E Texas to South Carolina and S to Florida).
  • C. m. aserriensis Cherrie, 1896 – extreme S USA (S Texas) and NE Mexico (S to N Veracruz).
  • C. m. neotropicalis Selander & Álvarez del Toro, 1955 – E & S Mexico (S from S Veracruz) S to Guatemala and W Honduras.
  • C. m. panamensis Eisenmann, 1962 – Nicaragua S to Panama; possibly this race N to E Honduras and Belize.
  • Winters in N & E South America.

    Descriptive notes

    22–25 cm; male 46–107 g, female 49–101 g, average appears c. 80 g. Sexually dimorphic; at rest, wingtips usually extend well beyond tip of tail. Crown dark... read more


    Territorial/courtship call of male is a nasal “peent”, usually in flight; other calls... read more


    Favours open or semi-open arid country: savanna and open grassland, plains, grassland with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes moths, bugs, wasps, flies, mosquitoes, mayflies, caddisflies, gnats, flying ants, plant lice, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets... read more


    Breeds May–Jul in Canada, late Apr to Aug in N USA, late Mar to Aug in S USA, and mid-May to Aug in Central America. Occasionally... read more


    Highly migratory, breeding throughout North & Central America and wintering in South America,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and generally common throughout much of breeding range; widespread and locally fairly common in Mexico, where also a... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cleere, N. (2019). Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).