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


2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage): 1, probably female

3. Parish: Cameron


Specific Locality:  Peveto Woods

4. Date(s) when observed: 04/18/2014, 04/22/2014

5. Time(s) of day when observed:  mid-morning

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

7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s): Mike Musumeche pointed it out to Mac Myers and me on 4/18.  On 4/22 several other birders saw and ID’ed it, including Myers, Van Remsen, Dan Lane, Michael Plauche, and Jon Dunn. 

8. Other observers who independently identified the bird(s): many observers in addition to those listed saw the bird on both dates, including Billy Jones and Gay Gomez.

9. Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light): In good light, including open sunlight at times.      

10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition):  Zeiss 10s, Nikon Fieldscope w/20-60 zoom, Samsung S4 cellphone for videoscoping.

11. Distance to bird(s):  The bird was about 25-35 feet up in a pecan tree on these days, and we were viewing it from about 50-60 feet from the base of the tree. 

12. Duration of observation:  I watched or filmed it for probably 15-20 minutes. 

13. Habitat: Remnant chenier woods adjacent to coast

14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation: 


Bird sat on smallish limb of a pecan tree, adjusting itself every now and then in response to light or approaching birders. It did not flush.


15. Description:  Compact brownish nightjar with white “nighthawk” mark at alula and buff spotting on primaries; on perched bird three distinct pale rows of spots evenly spaced on mantle and wing coverts, and wings equal to the tip of the tail.


Recurring motif of dorsal plumage an interplay of dark brown feathers with rich buff spots and tips, with buff often split by dark brown along feather shaft.


Head: Crown dark brown, buffy-and dark speckled supercilia, dark brown lores and auriculars but buff eyelids, buff-streaked and spotted malar and throat. Whitish inverted Y or T on throat largely hidden when feathers compacted at rest, buff-tinged around edges.


Mantle: Generally visible from scapulars down given angle of view. Ground color dark brown.


Three distinct rows of pale spots dorsally or laterally running parallel to body of perched bird:


Uppermost row: Broad pale rows of feathers on scapulars creating a ‘mantle V,’ with dorsal-most feather row of clear buff on outer half, dark shaft, and mostly dark inner half with at least some small buff interior spots visible on inner half.  This row overlaid a row of grayish feathering with darker vermiculation that resembled juvenile feathering, which in turn overlaid a row of rich buff feathers with broad dark shaft streaks and irregular dark barring.  


Middle row: Whitish-tipped feathers of the lesser coverts, without dark shaft streak.


Lower row: Formed by buff-tipped feathers of the median secondary coverts. Large buff ovals on either side of feather tip, split by broadly dark feather shaft.


Rest of wing mottled dark brown, pale buff, and grayish. Feathers of lesser coverts at ‘shoulder’ mostly dark brown speckled with small rich buff ovals on tips. Feathers between pale rows on lesser and median coverts largely gray in ground color with darker vermiculation, some buff ovals on tips. Greater secondary coverts mostly concealed, but appeared to be largely buff with broad irregular banding and shaft streaks.


Tertials grayish with darker vermiculations, appeared worn. These feathers are similar to if not juvenile feathers. 


Primaries brownish overall, appear worn. Grayish-brown wash to visible portions of outer primaries, contrasting with darker brown shaft area. Thin pale fringe of wear around edge of primaries, also a notch on one. Rich buff patches on primaries most visible on outer web of outermost visible primary, but also present on adjacent primaries; buff marks evenly spaced. On underside of opposite wing in photos, a large oval of whitish is visible on outermost primary.


Tail not seen well due to angle, but evenly spaced bars of dark and paler seen; exact pattern and color of bars not discernible.




Upper breast appeared mottled or vermiculated, not barred. Barring began at about mid-breast. Ground color of barred areas changed from whitish at extreme anterior end to warm buff. Barring across breast in form of thin but distinct dark brown bracket-shaped marks, pointed middle of bracket centered on feather shafts. Pale “bars” on breast about 2x the thickness of dark bars.  


Eyes dark brown, bill blackish, legs not seen. 



16. Voice: silent

17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation):  Other nightjars eliminated by white alula, other nighthawks eliminated by amount of buff spotting on primaries, and by the pattern of pale spots of wing coverts. 

18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?): yes, photos and video stills by me.   

19. Previous experience with this species:  Pretty extensive, annual in state, occasional elsewhere.    

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

a. at time of observation: discussed pattern of buff-tipped median coverts with Dan Lane during sighting on 4/22; I’ve always considered this a good field mark and apparently he does, as well.

b. after observation:

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

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

23. Date: 04/23/2014