Common Nighthawks

Common Nighthawks are found over much of North America, usually in open habitats such as cleared forests, fields and grasslands. They can also be found in urban areas, including cities. Common Nighthawks are easy to spot as they swoop over fields, streets, parking lots and other open areas as they pursue their insect prey. They are much more active at dawn and dusk than at night.

The species was once called the Booming Nighthawk, a reference to the remarkable flight display of the male birds. As they dive rapidly towards the ground, their primary feathers vibrate and produce a characteristic “booming” sound. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a 2:41 recording of the Common Nighthawk’s booming and their flight call here.

A Common Nighthawk rests while waiting for dusk to feed
I took this image of a resting Common Nighthawk this past Spring on 5 Mile Road in Lake County, Florida. It is rare to see one resting on a perch as they are more readily seen in flight. 5 Mile Road has been a good place to find these beauties for myself and several other photographers in Central Florida. This patch of Lake County has produced several sightings of Burrowing Owl, Swallow-tailed Kite, Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel, Gopher Tortoise and Coyote. Unfortunately, 5 Mile Road is a dirt road, which in the Florida summers is more likely to be a mud road. Proceed with caution if you plan to take a drive out there and the road has standing water on it.

See you out there!


  • Klaus

    August 29, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Good narrative and shot! Towards late afternoon you see them perching quite frequently at 5 mile Roseate Spoonbill on every available fencepost.

  • Michael Libbe

    August 29, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Roseate Spoonbill?