occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Breeding
Global Range: BREEDING: Florida Keys, Bahamas, Greater Antilles (east to Virgin Islands, including small cays off Cuba, Gomave, and Tortoe) and Cayman Islands. NON-BREEDING: presumably in South America. Regular spring migrant on Dry Tortugas (NGS 1983).
Length: 24 cm
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Open and semi-open situations. BREEDING: Lays eggs on ground in open area (Raffaele 1983).
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Arrives in Puerto Rico in April or May, departs usually August-October (Raffaele 1989). In spring and fall, migrants from other Greater Antillean islands and the Bahamas pass through Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (Raffaele 1989).
Comments: Usually feeds on flying insects high over fields and pastures in Puerto Rico (Raffaele 1983).
Life History and Behavior
Comments: Somewhat crepuscular; daytime activity most likely on overcast days (Raffaele 1983).
Lays clutch of 1-2 eggs (usually 1), May-June (Raffaele 1983).
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3B - Vulnerable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
The adults are dark with brown, grey and white patterning on the upperparts and breast; the long wings are black and show a white bar in flight. The tail is dark with white barring; the underparts are white with black bars. The adult male has a white throat; the female has a light brown throat. The most distinguishing characteristic to determine its identity from its closest relative the common nighthawk are the contrasting pale tertials near the back of the wings of a sitting bird. There are two color morphs, a gray and a rufous type.
Their breeding habitat is open country of the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas and the Florida Keys in the United States. They usually nest on bare ground, sometimes in raised locations including stumps or gravel roofs. They especially favor recently cleared areas in forests, airport fields, cane fields and pastures. The two eggs are laid directly on bare ground—there is no nest. Incubation is performed largely by the female and lasts for about 20 days. Young fledge at about 20 days of age.
The Antillean nighthawk migrates out of its breeding range after raising its young. It still remains unknown where the birds spend the winter.
They catch flying insects on the wing, mainly foraging near dawn and dusk (crepuscular) or sometimes at night with a full moon.
The call is a short pikadik usually heard overhead. The common nighthawk occasionally will make a similar call, but it is not as consistent.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Constitutes a superspecies with C. minor (AOU 1998). Often has been treated as conspecific with C. minor; AOU (1983) and Sibley and Monroe (1990) listed C. minor and C. gundlachii as separate species. See Stevenson et al. (1983) for differences between minor and gundlachii.