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Update August 18, 2003: added two more (one an obvious juvenile) from today at the same location, at the bottom of the page; based upon the appearance of the juvenile, I think birds 2 - 4 must all be adults - ?
These Common Nighthawks Chordeiles minor were photographed at the same rangeland location near Fort Worth, Texas in 2003:
1) May 14. I would call this an adult male (date; size of primary patch; white subterminal bar in tail.) Although warmer-toned on the nape and scapulars than "typical" males, the structure is almost standard, in that the long wings project obviously beyond the tail-tip, and the size of the last visible primary space (actually the P8-P9 gap) is large - at least as large as the preceding P7-P8 gap. One slightly odd feature is that P9 and P10 seem to be the same length (I noted this same feature on another bird seen at the same location.) I would have expected P10 to extend beyond P9 by a visible amount; I wonder if wing structure varies among populations (as opposed to randomly among individuals), and is linked to migratory distance?:

The next three birds were on August 14, and were within 50 yards of each other (and in the exact location of the above May bird):
2) I would call this an adult female (pattern of coverts and scapulars; small primary patch not reaching P10; lack of white subterminal tail band) - but I'd like to know if this is correct. A quite warm-toned individual on which the tertials appear contrastingly gray. The wings look oddly short, appearing to not reach the tail-tip, plus the last visible primary space (P8-P9) gap) is short - a little more than half the P7-P8 gap. As with the above May bird, P9 and P10 seem to be the same length. The primaries look to be in good condition - too good for an adult? I think that the well-marked coverts/scaps indicate an adult, but maybe this is a juvenile?

3) I am a little perplexed by this one: there seems to be a white subterminal band in the tail, indicating a male - yet there is no sign of the white primary patch on the wing, and I'd have expected an adult male to have the white on P10 visible, given the extent of this feather in view. I am again assuming it is not a juvenile because of the heavily-marked wing coverts, but perhaps this is not a reliable aging criterion? The overall color of this bird is more like a female/juvenile. As with bird 2) this individual seems to have quite fresh primaries with P9 and P10 equi-distant - but the P8-P9 gap looks to be more typical (longer than on bird 2)):

4) This individual was the most intriguing: It seemed to be quite short-winged/long tailed, with the tail extending obviously beyond the wing tips (I changed postion and confirmed it is not an artifact of viewing-angle; the wing-tips are almost touching each other rather than "crossed".) Also note the apparent molt boundary in the primaries between P5 and P6; the inner two appear round-tipped and fresh while the outer ones appear pointed and worn. My understanding is that Common Nighthawk molts its primaries on the winter grounds (Nov-March), while Lesser Nighthawk C. acutipennis molts its primaries on the breeding grounds in the summer (July-Sep.) Follow this link to two pics of a Lesser Nighthawk from Nicaragua (different subspecies?) in August; they seem to show the same pattern in the primaries as does bird 4). The tail seems to suggest it's not a male, and once more the well-marked scapulars and coverts suggest to me it's not a juvenile (plus the worn-looking outer primaries would not fit a juv.) The P8-P9 gap appears to be very short - less than half the P7-P8 gap:

5) August 18, 2003: This and #6 were seen at dawn flying in to roost in this tree, located just yards from the fenceposts pictured above. Both birds had obvious Common Nighthawk-like white primary patches visible in flight. This bird seems to be an adult female (extensive black patterning in coverts; worn and rather pointed primaries; lack of white in tail) and has P10 extending beyond P9 - but a fairly short P9-P8 space. Note how strongly buffy the underparts are, including the undertail coverts:

The pic below is from Aug 19:- same perch - different angle; the white primary marks are visible here, showing that they are absent from the outer three feathers:

6) August 18 2003: This clearly seems to be a juvenile (relatively plain coverts with no black in the lesser and median coverts; very fresh primaries with crisp buff edging). P10 extends slightly beyond P9 and the P9-P8 space is quite long. Again this bird was strongly buffy on the underparts, including the undertail coverts: