So, have you ever wondered why birds chirp at night? A birds’ chirps can wake anyone up in the morning, but you do not expect to hear them at night since they need sleep like the rest of us. Understanding why birds chirp at night may allow you to cope with your night-time disturbance.
While most birds are diurnal and sleep during the night, some nocturnal birds chirp only at night. Some birds chirp at night as a warning sign, while others do it to communicate. Here, we discuss what birds chirp at night, highlight seven reasons birds chirp at night, and whether it is normal.
About Nocturnal Birds and Triggers
The majority of birds do not sing at night but there are exceptions. Unlike daytime birds, nocturnal birds like nightjars and owls sing at night. The kinds of night bird sounds can vary depending on the species of bird callings, from the hoot of the Horned Owl to the song of a Whip-poor-will to the frightening screech of a Barn Owl.
Along with owls, other nocturnal songbirds are nightjars, corncrakes, and nightingales, all of which migrate with short and well-defined migration periods during the spring and summer months. In addition to the true nocturnal species, sedge warblers and the reed are also active at night.
Expert Tip: Nocturnal or diurnal birds follow daily cycles of light and dark.
Early morning sunlight and the bird’s internal clock trigger the dawn chorus. The dawn chorus is usually led by robins and redstarts, with sparrows and many finches joining in at the end. The sunset chorus follows the same pattern, but in reverse. A dawn chorus occurs when birds wake up without enough light to feed, so they sing instead.
In addition to light, some other triggers can cause robins and other birds to sing at night. A bird will suddenly burst into song whenever loud noise is heard, such as fireworks, thunder, earthquakes, or even a sudden shaking of a nest.
Even the evening song of nightingales, to which the Robin is distantly related, can trigger the bird to join in the singing.
Low Light Intensities
Some birds sing even at low light intensities, and they continue singing until after the last rays of light have faded in the evening, so it is reasonable to assume that the singing period could extend into the night.
Many birds such as song thrushes and dunnocks switch from day into night-time, but the undisputed kings of night-time songsters are robins. As insectivorous birds, robins are well adapted to fending for themselves under dim light and they feed well into the night under artificial light.
What birds chirp at night?
Many bird lovers know the chorus of their favorite birds. By identifying these nocturnal musicians, birders can improve their bird-by-ear skills and gain a unique perspective on bird communication. There are many factors that contribute to why certain bird species have a specific chirp tone.
Expert Tip: The body size of a bird influences its chirp rate during the night. Therefore, birds tend to chirp at a higher rate when it is nighttime since they tend to sleep through the day while being active during the night.
Below is a list of birds that are vocal at night and their chirp tone.
The Northern Mockingbird is probably the best known of the night-singing birds, as it has an extensive repertoire of imitations. The birds sing from high perches and can be found in suburban and urban areas in the Caribbean and North and South America.
The Northern Mockingbird sing multiple notes and sequences, frequently switching tunes to show off their incredible vocal abilities.
Thanks to the highly camouflaged plumage of this species, it can often be heard more easily than seen. During the day, these nocturnal birds usually roost quietly, but they sing loudly at night and end their songs with chants.
The Whip-poor-will active, even sequence of long notes that resembles the bird’s name can happen at any hour of the night.
Depending on the season and migration timing, the reddish-brown Hermit Thrush can be found in Mexico and Canada. Often singing early in the morning or at night the Hermit Thrush sings with musical warbles and whistling. Birds may sing all night long during early spring and late fall.
The song of this backyard bird is familiar to North Americans, and it often appears in the dawn chorus. When songs are part of courtship rituals during the spring, pollution from cities and suburbs can easily induce this bird to sing all night long.
Expert Tip: The bird may spend much of the year in its range, but it can still sing in the fall and winter, whatever the weather might be like.
The raspy croaking calls of the Black-crowned Night-Heron can be heard all night long, despite their lack of a musical song. This adds a creepy element to the wetlands, marshes, and swamps these birds call home. Black-Crowned Night-Heron can be found throughout the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
At first glance, the common nightingale may appear ordinary, but it sings a song that is anything but ordinary. It is found throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa. There are over 200 songs in the Common Nightingale repertoire, and the bird can sing most of them in one night.
Even though the bird is demure and often hides in dense vegetation, its distinct song and flute-like sound are recognizable, and it rarely gets tired of singing.
Even though this massive, warbler-like bird has an eye-catching yellow breast and throat it prefers to hide in thickets. Sometimes, when it is eager to sing, it will venture into the more open territory and captivate listeners with its whistling chatters, warbling whistles, and raspy notes.
Spring is the only time these birds sing, and you can often hear their songs at night.
European Robins are small songbirds with a powerful voice, and they defend their territories all year. Bright suburban or urban lighting entices these birds to sing at night. Bird lovers can enjoy the light whistling sounds and the breezy chirps.
Expert Tip: When artificial lighting is not present, the European Robin sings most often in the morning and late at night.
A Killdeer’s voice can sound like a chattering, frantic song, even at night. During migration in late fall and early spring, the birds will often chirp while in flight at any time of day. To hear the killdeer song, birders must listen for its characteristic call near barren fields or shallow water, the ideal habitat for foraging and nesting.
The black rail songs are distinctive song-like chirps. They can be found in the United States. The Caribbean, and South America. The Ki-Ki-Kooo call has a pipe-like, rich tone, which may be repeated over and over during the night. As these birds are humble and reclusive, hearing their songs is easier than it is to spot their dark plumage in the dark.
Barred Owls have a mournful hoot call with longer notes at the end, and they can be heard throughout their ranges, which span Canada, the United States, and the Pacific Northwest. These large owls often sing as soloists or pair up in duets during the breeding and courtship seasons.
The Barred Owl sings for hours after dark, calling to one another throughout the night repeatedly.
The barn owl inhabits every continent except Antarctica, which makes it one of the most widespread owl species. Despite being active at any time of the night, their loud, rasping screech is not a musical song.
Expert Tip: Additionally, they use leaking chatter and whispery calls to attract attention. You may hear these strange sounds throughout the night if you install barn owl boxes.
Why do birds chirp at night? 7 Reasons
1. Seeking Mates
To find a mate, most birds sing and chirp. Bird noises can be heard at night during the spring breeding season. Male birds sing to attract females. In general, females prefer to mate with males that sing complex songs. Expect little nestlings to arrive soon if you live near a loud male bird.
2. Baby Birds
Baby birds are helpless hatchlings and nestlings. Their parents must care for them constantly. Why do baby birds chirp at night? Baby birds are known to chirp to signal their parents that they need attention, much like a human baby would. The parents of multiple nestlings spend most of their time outside, searching for food.
When the parents hear these chirps, they know they have to return to the nest. These chirps can indicate the nestlings are sick, scared, hungry, thirsty, or cold.
3. Claiming Teritory
As birds need a good area to survive, they are very picky about their territories. A suitable territory will provide shelter, food, water, and a nesting site. Once a bird finds a suitable territory, it wants to cling to it.
Birds signal their claim to territory by chirping and singing. Birds even use songs to negotiate the boundary of their territories. The birds will make a lot of noise if another bird tries to encroach on their territory.
There is something about food that gets birds excited, and they will make all kinds of noise when it’s available. When social birds find a new food source, they signal the flock. If there are several birds around a newly discovered food source, they will chirp and fight over it.
Expert Tip: When they get extra food, birds sing and chirp more.
This is thought to be a good signal that male birds provide for female birds. Birds could also be singing because they have extra energy from the food.
Birds become very noisy when they are in danger. The birds chirp loudly as an alarm signal when they are distressed by predators and loud noises. In addition to alerting other birds in the area to danger, the action can also provide protection for other birds in the vicinity.
As a result of these warning chirps, other birds respond by increasing their noise levels.
Active birds can easily become disoriented during the day. As a result, they chirp throughout the night. This is mostly due to light pollution. Urban street lights can confuse birds. They cannot distinguish between artificial light and daylight.
Noises or movements that are too loud can also confuse birds. As a result, they begin chirping and singing early from their rest.
7. Find The Flock
The moon and stars help migrating birds find their way at night. Many birds chirp at the same time during their migration. Officially, these chirps are known as flights calls. Birds use these flight calls as teamwork strategies. It helps them stay together in a strange environment and keeps them safe from predators.
Is it normal to hear birds chirping at night?
Birds chirp at night and during the day. The songs are more apparent at night because other living beings have settled for the night. It seems like a strange thing to hear, but it is a natural occurrence and has apparently led to many myths and legends.
And yes, this is normal and not a cause for concern. Birds practice chirping at night to perfect their bird calls. Baby birds practice chirping to help them communicate with one another.
Have you ever heard an enormous flock of birds chirping together? Birds may do this behavior to count the number of birds in their flock. When gathered, the volume of noise gives the flock an idea of their population numbers. With this knowledge, get an idea of how easy or difficult it will be to compete for resources, such as food and water.
In this article, we have shown you seven reasons why birds chirp at night? The answer is simple, they communicate. Likely nocturnal birds are using these chirps to share after sunset. The reasons for this may include protecting territory, signaling danger, seeking a mate, learning new skills, or interacting with the flock.
These are the most common species of night-noising birds. You will now know more about the birds in your area next time those chirps keep you up at night. If you have ever heard or seen birds chirping at night, please share your observations below.