Common Poorwill
(Phalaenoptilus nuttallii)


Picture of bird
© Dick Cannings
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

In Canada, the Common Poorwill occurs in low numbers in the southern interior of British Columbia, and in the Cypress Hills region of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Due to its secretive nature and nocturnal habits, there are few data available to determine the species' population status. The species was classified by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as "Data Deficient" in 1993. There have been no updates since that time. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Data Deficient1993 
SARA (Canada)No Status  
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500 - 5,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

In the 1980s, there was a negative change point in the Breeding Bird Survey population trends of swallows, swifts, and nightjars across most of North America (Smith et al. 2015). Although several species of aerial-foraging insectivores have shown widespread declines in Canada (Nebel et al. 2010), insufficient data are available to determine whether the Common Poorwill is also affected, or whether any conservation action is required. The species appears to be susceptible to car strikes while foraging along roadsides (Woods et al. 2005). The British Columbia Poorwill Survey, a local version of the United States Nightjar Survey, will provide useful information which may help determine population trends in future.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship