Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis)


French: Engoulevent minime German: Texasnachtschwalbe Spanish: Añapero garrapena

Caprimulgus acutipennis


, 1783,



Baja California population formerly separated as race inferior, but considered inseparable from texensis. Seven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. texensis Lawrence, 1856 – SW USA S to C Mexico (including Baja California); winters S to W Colombia.
  • C. a. micromeris Oberholser, 1914 – N Yucatán Peninsula, in SE Mexico.
  • C. a. littoralis Brodkorb, 1940 – S Mexico S to Costa Rica, possibly to Panama.
  • C. a. acutipennis (Hermann, 1783) – Colombia E through Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago and the Guianas to E Brazil, and S (absent from many parts of Amazonia) to N Bolivia and probably Paraguay and N Argentina#R.
  • C. a. crissalis A. H. Miller, 1959 – S Colombia (upper Magdalena Valley, in Huila).
  • C. a. aequatorialis Chapman, 1923 – W Colombia, W Ecuador, possibly also NW Peru.
  • C. a. exilis (Lesson, 1839) – W Peru and, rarely, extreme N Chile.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–23 cm; male 34–62 g, ­female 34–64 g. Sexually dimorphic; at rest, wing-tips reach tip of tail. Crown generally blackish-brown, rest of upperparts... read more


    Song of male is an evenly pitched trill or slow churr. Sings in flight, from perches or ground.... read more


    Typically all types of open country, including deserts and semi-deserts, scrubland, savanna and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes crickets, beetles, winged ants, moths, mayflies, termites, dragonflies, flies, mosquitoes and bugs. Forages in flight by... read more


    Breeds late Apr to Aug in SW USA, May–Jul/Aug in Mexico, possibly late Apr to Jul in El Salvador, Mar (perhaps) to Jul in Costa Rica... read more


    Surprisingly little known; many populations possibly largely sedentary. Race texensis... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to locally abundant throughout range. On North American breeding grounds, locally common in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas;... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cleere, N. (2020). Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis). 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 18 February 2020).