Common Nighthawk: Medium nightjar with white-speckled, dark upperparts, black-and-white barred underparts, mottled breast, white throat. Wings are long, dark gray with white bars, nearly covering tail when folded. Gray-brown legs and feet. Darting erratic flight with frequent changes of direction.
Range and Habitat
Common Nighthawk: Breeds throughout the U.S. Winters are spent in South America. Well-adapted to urban life: flat-topped gravel roofs provide nesting habitat and lighting systems around buildings serve as foraging areas for insects.
Analyses of stomach contents have revealed a single bird eating upwards of 500 mosquitoes in a single day.
In the Southern United States, it is sometimes mistaken for a bat when spotted flying erratically at dusk.
The Common Nighthawk’s folk name is “goatsucker." This refers to the myth that this bird, with its large mouth, actually suckled goats.
A group of nighthawks are collectively known as a "kettle" of nighthawks.
The Common Nighthawk is a nightjar that resides in the open country of North America, including widespread areas of the United States. This species may also be found in burned forest areas. They nest on the bare ground, and at times atop stumps or roofs. In winter months, the Common Nighthawk will migrate to South America, and rarely to western Europe. This species migrates in flocks. They hunt for food at dawn and dusk, catching flying insects on their wings. Due to maintained and increased populations of the Common Nighthawk, the current conservation rating of this species is Least Concern.