Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Larry Master
Photo Copyright Larry Master

The lesser nighthawk, Chordeiles acutipennis, breeds in the southwestern United States (including southwestern Utah), Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Northern populations, including populations in the United States, migrate to areas south of central Mexico for winter. This species prefers open habitats, such as deserts and scrublands.

The female lays one clutch of two eggs; she then incubates the eggs for about 20 days. The young are tended by both parents and fledge at about three weeks of age.

As its name implies, the lesser nighthawk forages primarily at night, although it may also be active at dusk, dawn, and during the day. The diet of this species is composed almost entirely of insects.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.