Common Nighthawk

Volunteers installing a nighthawk nest patch on the Concord Public Library, 2007, photo by Mark Suomala.

Common Nighthawk

Project Nighthawk is a statewide research initiative, coordinated by New Hampshire Audubon, aimed at conserving a state-threatened bird species, the Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor). Data from New Hampshire and the region show that nighthawks are declining throughout their range. Most active at dusk and dawn, the “peent” call of Common Nighthawks was once a familiar sound in cities and towns throughout New Hampshire, where they nested on flat, peastone gravel roofs and fed on insects attracted to city lights (everything from mosquitoes to large moths). In recent years, rubber and PVC have largely replaced peastone roofing, and nesting nighthawks have disappeared from many New Hampshire towns.

New Hampshire Audubon initiated Project Nighthawk in 2007 to investigate the potential for restoring nesting nighthawks in urban areas by placing simple gravel “nest patches” on flat rooftops in Keene and Concord. If the absence of nesting sites is a factor in nighthawk declines, biologists hope the gravel patches will lure the birds back. If not, then other factors such as pesticide use, accidental poisoning on their wintering grounds in South America, or migration hazards, may be contributing to their decline.

Video: Biologist and Nighthawk Watch Project Coordinator Becky Suomala takes us out with her for an evening of watching for Common Nighthawks in Concord, NH. Filmed on July 3, 2020.

Project Leader: Rebecca Suomala

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Founded in 1914, NH Audubon’s mission is to protect New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people. It is an independent statewide membership organization with four nature centers throughout the state. Expert educators give programs to children, families, and adults at centers and in schools. Staff biologists and volunteers conduct bird conservation efforts such as the Peregrine Falcon restoration. NH Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on NH Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call 224-9909, or visit