Lesser Nighthawk: Medium-sized nightjar with gray and white mottled upperparts, white throat, and brown and white mottled underparts with dark belly bars. Wings are dark with conspicuous pale patches visible in flight. Tail is dark brown and has thin white bars across top. Darting erratic flight.
Range and Habitat
Lesser Nighthawk: Uncommon in parts of California and Nevada, more common in southern New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Prefers large open areas, including arid and semi-arid lowlands.
Lesser Nighthawks catch flying insects on the wing, mainly foraging near dawn and dusk (crepuscular), sometimes at night with a full moon or near street lighting.
Adults flushed from the nest may try to distract the intruder or defend the nest site by aerial attack.
Young birds sometimes perform a defense display by opening up their mouths and spreading their wings, looking to appear threatening and looking larger than they actually are before they run off.
A group of nighthawks are collectively known as a "kettle" of nighthawks.
The Lesser Nighthawk is evaluated as Least Concern at this time. This terrestrial bird species is native to South America, North America and Central America. The range of the Lesser Nighthawk is more than 2 million square kilometers. The population of this bird species is nearing 6 million individual birds. At this time the Lesser Nighthawk is not facing any immediate threats or dangers. The prior rating of the Lesser Nighthawk was Lower Risk. This rating was downgraded in 2004 to Least Concern due to its range and population.