English and Scientific names:

Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis)

Number of individuals: 

1 female

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Cameron Parish

Specific Locality:

“Rutherford Oaks” a.k.a. Oak Grove

Date(s) when observed:


Time(s) of day when observed:  

Late afternoon, ca. 5:00-6:30

Reporting observer and address:

Paul Conover

Lafayette, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Mac Myers, Lainie LaHaye

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Good late afternoon light, bird forelit.

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss 10s, Nikon Fieldscope III 20-60, Nikon D50 with 200 mm.

Distance to bird(s): 

About 20 yards at closest. Most viewing at 50 yards or so.

Duration of observation:

Scattered sightings over about 1.5 hours. At times, perched bird was observed for 20 minutes or so at a time.


Oak-dominated woods with heavy understory surrounded by marsh to south and pastureland to north.

Behavior of bird: 

Perched except when flushed. In flight, glided from perch to perch with much flapping except when it would ascend. Bird seen well in flight from all angles as I glided to a perch, banked, fluttered, and redirected.


We flushed this bird 6 times, working with it for quite a while to get definitive looks.


A nightjar with white ‘nighthawk mark’ (alula?). Overall color pale grayish-brown with few distinct markings.


Perched bird with primaries concealed.


Throat appeared to have buffy ground color but was heavily mottled with darker brown. Thin line of pale buffy along lower edge of auriculars.


Underparts pale brownish with darker brown transverse bracket-shaped bars, about evenly barred dark and light. Underwing coverts and axillars similarly barred. Undertail coverts rich brown barred with dark brown, dark bars more widely spaced than on vent area.


Upperparts mottled with gray, brown, and buff. Buff tips to mantle feathers formed distinct V. Buff tips to wing coverts formed two weakly marked buff wingbars.


In flight, wings with 3-4 bands of pale buff spots proximal to a more distinct buffy-whitish band crossing the primaries. These rows of buff spots ran parallel to the wing band.


Tail evenly bared dark brown on buff, with no white or buff tail band.



not heard

Similar species:

A nighthawk by white alula, wing band.

Common Nighthawk eliminated by amount of buffy spots on primaries.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Photos, video.

Previous experience with this species: 

Seen out west a few times, seen once before in LA, I have studied many skins at LSUMNS over the years, and many pictures.

Identification aids:


This description is written from: 

Memory, photos.

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 



Date and time: 

November 3, 2009