Very similar to the widespread Common Nighthawk, Lesser Nighthawk shows subtle differences in shape, color, and the position of the white primary bar. The easiest distinction between the two species is voice. Upperparts are gray-brown, mottled with buff, brown, and black. Underparts are gray, turning buffy on the belly, with dark barring. The throat shows a white bar, more prominent on males. At rest, the wing tips extend just to the end of the tail (wing tips extend beyond the tail on Common). At close range, notice the buff spots on the primaries, and how the whitish bar on the primaries falls just beyond the end of the tertials. (On Common, the pale bar is hidden beneath the tertails.) In flight: The wing tips appear more rounded than on other nighthawks. The white bar (buffy on females) is located closer to the tips of the primaries, not near the base as on Common. Note the buffy spots on primaries and secondaries. Males show a white subterminal band on the tail, lacking on females.
Length: 20 (cm) Wingspan: 51 (cm)
Song is a long slow trill, similar to the trill of an Eastern Screech-Owl.
Open desert and scrub habitats.
Crepuscular; usually flies low over the ground or the tops of vegetation when feeding. Nests on bare ground. During migration and on wintering grounds, may appear in large feeding flocks.
Captures insects in the air.
Expanded Life History
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