Nighthawk, an American bird of the goatsucker, or nightjar, family. Despite the name, it is not a true hawk. Nighthawks are mottled grayish brown, with white bands across their long, pointed wings. Their tails are slightly forked. They feed on insects, usually flying after their prey at dusk. The female lays two brown-speckled white eggs on the bare ground or on a flat roof.

NighthawksNighthawks are mottled gray-brown with white bands across their long, pointed wings.

The common nighthawk is nine to ten inches (23 to 25 cm) long. It breeds from Canada to the West Indies and winters in Mexico and South America. It is found in open woods and in cities. During courtship, the male makes a series of aerial dives ending with a booming sound created by air channeled through the wing feathers.

The lesser nighthawk, or Texas nighthawk, is eight to nine inches (20 to 23 cm) long and is lighter colored than the common nighthawk. It inhabits dry open areas in the southwestern United States. It winters in Mexico and South America.

Nighthawks belong to the family Caprimulgidae. The common nighthawk is Chordeiles minor; the lesser, C. acutipennis.