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eBird maps show where to look for Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk by Nick Saunders
Common Nighthawk by Nick Saunders

In “On the Move,” our regular column about migration, we present pairs of distribution maps from eBird that you can use to compare where interesting birds are at different times of year. We’re featuring Common Nighthawk, pictured above, in our June 2015 issue.

Common Nighthawk

June 2004-14 (left); October 2004-14 (right)
June 2004-14 (left); October 2004-14 (right)

These eBird maps show the distribution of Common Nighthawk in Canada and the lower 48 states in June and October from 2004 to 2014. The species, which was listed as a common bird in steep decline (PDF) in The State of the Birds 2014, breeds throughout most of North America, from northwestern Canada to Panama. Nighthawks spend the winter in southern South America and arrive in the eastern and central states and provinces from April to early May; western populations arrive later, from late May through early June. In spring, look for them along rivers and lakeshores and foraging above woodland clearings and prairies. Fall migration begins in late July and continues into early November. As the map at right shows, in October nighthawks are most commonly spotted in the central, eastern, and southeastern states. By November, most will have left the continent.

See eBird’s real-time distribution map for Common Nighthawk.

eBird is the real-time online checklist operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. “On the Move” is written by eBird’s Garrett MacDonald, Chris Wood, Marshall Iliff, and Brian Sullivan. Submit your bird sightings at

A version of this article appeared in “Birding Briefs” in the June 2015 issue of BirdWatching. Subscribe.

Read “The Uncommon Common Nighthawk” by Laura Erickson.

Read about the Nightjar Survey Network and other citizen-science projects that count nighthawks.

Originally Published

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