This widespread nightjar is considered the most common member of its family in the extensive tropical lowlands of the Western Hemisphere, but as is typical of most members of this family, our knowledge of the life-history of the Common Pauraque is sketchy. This nightjar forages at night in open areas, including quiet roads, catching night-flying beetles, its main prey, by “jumping” from the ground into the air to snatch these slow-flying insects (Oberholser 1974, Latta and Howell 1999).
DISTRIBUTION. During the 1987-1992 field work seasons of the TBBA project, atlasers found 14 confirmed, 28 probable and 28 possible breeding sites in the southern tip of Texas. Since this nightjar is resident in this state, most or all of the probable and possible sites may represent actual breeding. The resulting map below is comparable to the map in Oberholser (1974).
South of Texas Common Pauraques are resident in the lowlands of both coasts of Mexico and Central America and in South America south to Peru in the west and northwest Argentina in the east (Howell and Webb 1995, Am. Ornithol. Union 1998, Latta and Howell 1999).
SEASONAL OCCURRENCE. Common Pauraques are resident in Texas and breed from late March to August, based on egg dates from April 1 to June 28 and young about 1 week old found on August 9 (Oberholser 1974).
BREEDING HABITAT. Common Pauraques are resident in Texas from near sea level to135 m (440 ft), possibly to 195 m (640 ft). This nightjar usually nests in Texas in open, brushy woodlands dominated by Texas ebony, mesquite or live oak. The 2 cream buff to salmon buff eggs, variously marked, are laid on bare ground, occasionally in a shallow scrape or on fallen leaves, and sometimes hidden under a bush. Males and females alternate incubation bouts for 19-20 days (estimate; Oberholser 1974, Harrison 1979, Latta and Howell 1999).
STATUS. Common Pauraque is a common resident of its sooth Texas range (Lockwood and Freeman 2004).Three North American Breeding Bird Survey routes in south Texas reported relative abundances of 1.0-0.6 (Price et al. 1995). The similarity of the TBBA map to the map in Oberholser (1974) suggests no significant range change has occurred in recent years. Apparently the population of this nightjar in Texas is reasonably stable.
Text by Robert C. Tweit (2007)
American Ornithologists’ Union. 1998. Checklist of North American birds, 7th ed. Am, Ornithol. Union, Washington, DC.
Harrison, H. H. 1979. A field guide to western birds’ nests. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Howell, S. N. G. and S. Webb. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, New York.
Latta, S. C. and C, A. Howell. 1999. Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis). InThe birds of North America, No. 429 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Lockwood, M. W. and B. Freeman. 2004. The TOS handbook of Texas birds. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Oberholser, H. C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Price, J., S. Droege, and A. Price. 1995. The summer atlas of North American birds. Academic Press, New York.