A slender, long-winged, partly nocturnal bird, widespread across North America. Adult is cryptically plumaged when perched, with long black primaries extending past tail, white wing spot underneath shoulder, softly-patterned upperparts marbled and spotted with brown and black tones, buffy or whitish underparts with horizontal black bars, short neck, large black eye, and short, black bill. Male has a white throat. In flight, note obvious white band at base of primaries. Variation in overall color; some individuals are gray, some are brown, and a few are dark rufous overall. Similar Lesser Nighthawk has buffy bars on primaries and, in flight, white band is closer to wingtip.
Length: 24 (cm) Wingspan: 61 (cm)
Typical call a single beent note, slightly buzzy and nasal. Displaying male makes a whoosh while diving in flight.
Open areas: fields, lakes, cities, clearcuts, woodland edges.
Crepuscular; roosts by day on tree branch or other solid perch, using cryptic plumage for camouflage. Often becomes active toward dusk, flying in last hours of daylight. Flight is wheeling, stiff-winged, erratic and somewhat bat-like, hence this bird is often colloquially referred to as a "bullbat." Nest is placed in gravel or loose soil, occasionally on gravel rooftop.
Catches insects on the wing, opening bill wide and using bristle-like feathers around gape as a net. Sometimes feeds on moths attracted to large lights.
Expanded Life History
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