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The Lesser Nighthawk, scientifically known as Chordeiles acutipennis, is a fascinating bird species often found in the Mule Mountains near Bisbee, Arizona. This area provides a unique habitat for the species, contributing to its distinctive behaviors and adaptations.

Habitat and Distribution


The Mule Mountains, located in the southeastern part of Arizona, near the historic town of Bisbee, serve as an ideal habitat for the Lesser Nighthawk. This region is characterized by rugged terrain, with an array of grasslands and brushy areas that are crucial for the bird's survival.

Habitat Characteristics

Lesser Nighthawks in this area thrive in semi-arid environments, often found in open spaces with sparse vegetation. Their preference for lower elevations makes the Mule Mountains an excellent habitat, providing ample foraging opportunities and nesting sites.

Physical Description

Size and Appearance

The Lesser Nighthawk is a medium-sized bird, with a body length of about 8 to 9 inches and a wingspan ranging from 20 to 22 inches. It has a distinctive appearance with mottled gray and brown plumage, which offers excellent camouflage against the desert terrain.

Distinguishing Features

One of the key features of this species is its short, slightly forked tail and long, pointed wings. The bird's cryptic coloring is perfectly adapted to blend into the rocky and sandy landscapes of the Mule Mountains.

Behavior and Diet

Nocturnal Activity

As a nocturnal species, the Lesser Nighthawk is most active during the night, especially at dusk and dawn. Its behavior is adapted to the cooler temperatures and lower predator activity during these times.

Feeding Habits

The diet of the Lesser Nighthawk primarily consists of insects, which they catch in flight. Their feeding technique involves flying low over open areas, using their wide mouths to scoop up moths, beetles, and other flying insects.

Reproduction and Nesting

Breeding Season

The breeding season for the Lesser Nighthawk in the Mule Mountains typically spans from late spring to early summer. This timing allows the birds to take advantage of the increased insect population.

Nesting Habits

Rather than building traditional nests, Lesser Nighthawks lay their eggs directly on the ground. They usually choose a spot with minimal vegetation, relying on their camouflaged plumage to protect the eggs and chicks from predators.

Conservation Status

While the Lesser Nighthawk is not currently listed as endangered, its population is affected by habitat loss and environmental changes. Conservation efforts in areas like the Mule Mountains are crucial to ensure the continued survival of this unique species.


The Lesser Nighthawk of the Mule Mountains near Bisbee, Arizona, is a remarkable bird adapted to the unique conditions of its habitat. Its nocturnal lifestyle, diet, and reproductive habits make it a fascinating subject for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts in the region.

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