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Common Nighthawk Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Common Nighthawks are medium-sized, slender birds with very long, pointed wings and medium-long tails. Only the small tip of the bill is usually visible, and this combined with the large eye and short neck gives the bird a big-headed look.

    Relative Size

    Slightly smaller than an American Kestrel; larger than a Purple Martin.

    Relative Sizebetween robin and crowbetween robin and crow

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 8.7-9.4 in (22-24 cm)
      • Weight: 2.3-3.5 oz (65-98 g)
      • Wingspan: 20.9-22.4 in (53-57 cm)

Regional Differences

Eastern birds are browner than those from the northern Great Plains, which are silvery gray overall.