LOUISIANA BIRD RECORDS COMMITTEE

REPORT FORM

 

1. English and Scientific names:Lesser Nighthawk, Chordeiles acutipennis

 

2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage): 1 male, plus 1 unknown

3. Parish: Cameron

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Specific Locality:Peveto Woods

4. Date(s) when observed: 05/11/2012

5. Time(s) of day when observed:mid-afternoon, then again at dusk

6. Reporting observer and address: Paul Conover, Lafayette, LA

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7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s): David Muth

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8. Other observers who independently identified the bird(s): I donít know who else got good looks at it.

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9. Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light): Shade, but well lit.††††

10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition):Zeiss 10s, Nikon D50 w/300 mm lens.†††

11. Distance to bird(s):I walked to within about 30 yards before the bird flushed.††

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12. Duration of observation:perhaps 2 minutes

13. Habitat: Remnant chenier woods adjacent to coast

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14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation:

 

David Muth and I were in the open parking lot area of the BRAS Peveto Sanctuary when a nighthawk flew in below the levels of the trees and began casting about for a landing spot.It settled on a live oak branch.

 

We both suspected it was a Lesser when we first saw it.I noticed its small size and somewhat falcon-like shape, gliding flight style beneath the canopy, and the fact that it was a very buffy male with paler brownish primaries than the Commons present.

 

We took some photos of the bird perched, then I walked up on it and managed to get one flight shot.The bird went into the woods and I didnít see it again, although I believe David and maybe some of the others with us did as well.

 

In the evening, when light was still in the sky, I watched 2 nighthawks that had similar shape, size, flight style take off and make a few drifting circles above treetop level before drifting away.They were flying together, but not in the choreographed flight the pairs and trios of Common Nighthawks were engaging in.Photos of one, included, show white bar very close to primary tip.

 

15. Description:Very buffy and brown nightjar with white bars across primaries and narrow white subterminal tail band.

 

The bird was alert and had its head raised.Overall size seemed somewhat small (but we had seen some pretty small female Commons that day that seemed in the same size range).Most noticeable visible marks were the white throat patch, and two rows of pale spots, one which was half of a pair that formed a sort of broad incomplete mantle V (I only saw one side, but Iím assuming the markings were symmetrical), and the other row formed by pale tips of lesser or median coverts.This covert row ran as a short pale horizontal line back from the bend of the wing.Primaries appeared slightly blunt-ended, and a worn brown color, not dark gray or blackish.Visible underparts of perched bird with buffy ground color and narrow dark brown barring.

 

Flight photo shows solidly buffy ground color to underparts, including undertail coverts.

 

Tail transversely barred buff and dark brown, bars distinct, buffy bars thicker.This pattern continued to tail tip, except last pale bar slightly thicker and white instead of buff.Terminal band of tail dark brown.

 

Spread wings with somewhat short arm, outer primary tips spaced like spread fingers at least some of time in flight.White bar on primaries apparently confined to 4 outer primaries, narrowing in rear, positioned on the primaries distally at about the tip of p6.Inner primaries and the secondaries mottled with buff spotting but pattern not detectable.Underwing coverts buffy barred narrowly with dark brown.

 

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16. Voice: none heard

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17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation):Buff spotting on inner primaries indicates Lesser.I expect male Commons to have brightish white ground color to undertail coverts. Wing shape with short arm and no clear-cut bend in hind-wing better for Lesser.White wingbar on primaries of Commons starts at the tip of the greater primary coverts; on this bird, bar began far distal to that.Extent and shape of wingbar seem better for Lesser.

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18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?): yes, by me and David Muth.

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19. Previous experience with this species:Pretty wide, as vagrants in state and in their typical range.††

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20. Identification aids: (list books, illustrations, other birders, etc. used in identification):

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a. at time of observation:

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b. after observation:

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21. This description is written from: memory and photo review.

22. Are you positive of your identification if not, explain: yes

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23. Date: 5/15/2013

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