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COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Common Nighthawk in Canada

Existing Protection or Other Status Designations

In Canada, the Common Nighthawk, its nest and eggs are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (Environment Canada, 2004).

At the global level, the species is considered as secure (G5, last reviewed in 1996; NatureServe 2005; Table 1). It is also considered to be secure in the United States (last reviewed in 2000; NatureServe 2005; Table 1). However, it is considered critically imperiled (S1) or imperiled (S2) in five eastern U.S.states (Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Delaware). 

In Canada, the species is not on any species-at-risk list and is generally considered secure by NatureServe (2005, Table 1). It is also considered a low-responsibility species in Canada, because less than 10% of the North American population breeds in Canada (Dunn et al. 1999). NatureServe (2005) gives a rank of S1S2B in two Atlantic Provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island (Table 1). The General Status of Species in Canada gives the species an overall rank of 4 or Secure in Canada. It is considered 3 or Sensitive in AB, NB, NS, and PE and 4 or Secure in YT, NT, BC, SK, MB, ON, and QC (CESCC 2006).

Table 1: Rankings Assigned to the Common Nighthawk
(NatureServe 2005)
United StatesN5B
British ColumbiaS4S5B
Northwest TerritoriesSNRB
New BrunswickS4B
Nova ScotiaS4B
Prince Edward IslandS1S2B
Yukon TerritorySNRB

* S1 means that the species is critically imperiled due to extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences) or other factors, such as a significant decline that makes it vulnerable to extinction;
S2 means that the species is imperiled due to its rarity or to certain factors that make it very vulnerable to extinction, usually with 6 to 20 occurrences or few remaining individuals (i.e. 1000 to 3000);
S3 means that the species is vulnerable within a particular state or province because it is rare or uncommon, or because it is found only in a restricted range, or because other factors make it vulnerable to extinction;
S4 means that the species is very uncommon but that it is not rare and that it is of long-term concern due to population declines or other factors;
S5 means that the species is secure, because it is common, widespread and globally abundant.

is aglobal status rank; N is a national status rank; S is a subnational (state or province) status rank; B refers to breeding populations; N refers to non-breeding populations.

In most Canadian provinces, the species is not at risk and is therefore not monitored by conservation data centres (Yukon, Sinclair et al. 2003; Northwest Territories, L. Armer, pers. comm. 2005; British Columbia, K. Stipec, pers. comm. 2005; Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Environment, 2006; Manitoba, Manitoba Conservation, Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection Branch, 2006; Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 2005; Quebec, Ministère des resources naturelles et faune du Québec, 2006; Maritimes, S. Blaney, pers. comm. 2005). In Alberta, the species is considered a sensitive species because its numbers are declining due to the effects of pesticides on insect populations in urban and suburban areas (Alberta Government, 2003).

The Common Nighthawk is not on the Partners in Flight Watch List (Rich et al. 2004). However, the species is listed by Partners in Flight as a species of concern in six Bird Conservation Regions in the southern United States (PIF species assessment database, out of 34 Bird Conservation Regions where it breeds.