The common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) was a relatively common breeder throughout BCR 14 but its populations are declining rapidly. It prefers large open grasslands, burned over woodlands and early stage large clearcuts. It is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in one or more states in BCR 14.

Habitat Needs

This bird prefers large open grasslands, agricultural fields, rocky outcrops, gravelly areas and flat gravel rooftops. It does not build a nest but lays its eggs directly on gravel. They are mainly nocturnal and feed on flying insects of various kinds.

Its territory size is about 25 acres.

Habitat Management Practices

Retain large openings with gravelly areas throughout the range of the nighthawk. The replacement of flat gravelly roofs with metal or rubbery material is thought to have had an impact on populations of nighthawks that were in the habit of laying eggs on the gravelly roof substrate.

Prescribed fire in communities such as pitch pine-scrub oak would provide habitat for this species if the fires were large enough, probably 25 acres or more. Large clearcuts on dry sandy and gravelly soils might also provide useable habitat for a short time, perhaps up to 5 years.

When assessing properties for management potential look for excessively to moderately well-drained soils such as Colton, Adams, Croghan, Masardis, Stetson and Masardis among others.

Additional Information

Forest Types