Birds That Sing At Night: Species, Songs And Their Meanings

Tanya Parkhi
Nov 16, 2022 By Tanya Parkhi
Originally Published on Oct 25, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
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Robin erithacus rubecula standing on a branch.

You may be familiar with the comforting sounds of birds singing outside your bedroom window.

However, you might have wondered which birds are making these sounds. If most birds are awake during the day, then which birds are singing in the middle of the night?

If a bird has ever kept you up at night, then it's time to get acquainted with n0cturnal birds - birds that sing at night. Mostly more common during the spring and summer months, many species of birds tend to sing late into the night for a variety of reasons.

With some of their songs being beautiful and haunting to others being straight up unbearable, here is your guide to the most common birds that sing at night, and an insight on what it means.

If you enjoyed this article, do check out our pages on tropical mockingbird facts and birds that mate for life.

What birds can I hear singing at night?

There are several birds which you might hear singing at night, depending on your location and type of setting. Here are some of the most common artists of the night.

Northern mockingbird: one of the most familiar songbirds, the Northern mockingbird has made quite a name all over North America.

These birds often sing notes, tones and sequences in groups of three, and are adept at singing many different tunes.

Mockingbirds are great at mimicry (hence the name) and will copy the songs of many other animals like hawks, jays, frogs and even humans! They love being the centre of attention, and will perch upon a high tree branch, belting out tunes in the middle of the night.

Unpaired males have been known to sing for 24 hours during the breeding season, and the typical Northern mockingbird can learn around 200 songs during its lifetime!

The only way to stop mockingbirds from singing is to somehow bring females into their vicinity for them to mate with- otherwise it's up to you to drown out the incessant noise for a good night's sleep!

Hermit thrush: this little reddish-brown bird has one of the most pleasing and beautiful songs of all the birds in North America. It has a melodious, lilting voice, which can be heard in the late evening or early morning, its range extending to nightfall during the early spring and fall months.

American robin: this familiar robin is quite common and can be found in suburban backyards, singing through the night. Though it can be heard all year round, it is most active in spring, during the breeding season, with these birds using song to attract a mate.

Though it used to exclusively sing at dawn, urban light pollution has confused this poor species into singing throughout the night, its familiar song ringing through the city.

Eastern whip-poor-will: these nocturnal birds are named after the series of calls they make, their chanting song rising up at the end. Being highly camouflaged, they are easier to hear than find, and their screeching song can be heard repeating over and over throughout the course of the night.

Common nightingale: everyone has heard of the nightingale, a prolific songbird found across Africa, Europe and Asia. At first glance this plain bird may seem anything but extraordinary, however once they open their beaks they can sing for hours!

Their beautiful, flute like voice carries over a large range at night, their huge repertoire of songs being put to good use.

Males can be heard singing their hearts out during the spring and summer months, in attempts to woo females. Unfortunately, the population of this bird species has been dwindling in Britain due to habitat loss, seeing a 57% decrease from 1995-2009.

Barred owl: these well known nocturnal birds are very vocal at night and can be heard calling out to each other. Barred owl birds have a low, mournful hooting voice with a wide range of notes.

A solo barred owl can sing for hours, or they can pair up for soulful duets during the breeding months. They can also make an unusual caterwauling noise, which can be quite startling when heard out of the blue!

Black rail: black rails are a type of reclusive swamp bird that can be found in Northern America and parts of South America. They have a distinctive ki-ki- koo-koo song which has rich pipelike tones.

They also have black plumage, which is very difficult to spot at night and are quite tiny, so you are more likely to hear them before you see them!

Yellow-breasted chat: though these bright breasted birds command attention with their beautiful yellow plumage, they prefer to stay in the shadows. When in the mood to sing however, they will wander out into the open and burst into raspy, warbling notes with whistling undertones.

They are not exactly nocturnal, however can be heard singing at nighttime during springtime.

Their song has been likened to mocking laughter by birders. Sadly, the yellow-breasted chat population is rapidly declining due to the tearing down of forests and thickets, leading to habitat loss for these birds.

Black-crowned night heron: these wading birds can be found in a variety of marshes, wetlands and swamps all over the world. Though their notes are not musical, they can be heard raspily croaking to each other throughout the night.

Their voices have been said to add a certain eerie element to the dark swamplands, making them a horror fans paradise!

Common loon: common loons are a Northern American waterfowl known for their haunting, mournful song. They have a deep, wailing wolf-like yodel, which can be heard in the dark of night. These birds are facing declining population due to water pollution and mercury poisoning by consuming toxic fish.

Killdeer: the killdeer is a type of shorebird with a sharp, piercing voice which can sound like frantic chattering. They often call mid-flight, and their calls extend into nighttime during the breeding period in spring and while migrating during the winters.

They can be heard near shallow water or open country such as barren fields, which is their natural habitat.

Upland sandpiper: this prairie bird can be heard vocalizing during the day and well into the night during the breeding period, which occurs during the spring in North America. It has a beautiful whistling, melodious voice which travels over the grasslands in lilting waves.

Great reed warbler: these insect devouring songsters inhabit Africa, Asia and western Europe, and can be found singing non-stop during nighttime in the breeding season. The male's powerful, melodious songs can last from 20 seconds to 20 minutes and be heard until quite far away.

What does it mean when birds sing at night?

Though you may mostly hear nocturnal birds singing at night, it is not uncommon for diurnal birds to join in the action as well from time to time. The continuous use of lights in urban areas, be it streetlights, billboards or even the ones in our homes, at night has led to what is known as light pollution.

This may sometimes confuse birds into thinking that it is dawn, and set them off.

You are sure to hear non-stop chattering of all sorts outside your bedroom window during the spring, which is incidentally the breeding period for many bird species. Unpaired males often sing to attract a mate, and their songs can continue well into the night until they find the bird of their dreams.

Many diurnal species such as blackbirds and cardinals tend to change their activity from day to night immediately before departing on their winter migration.

Birds also defend their territory through song, and many species such as Robins sing when intruders come too close, to let them know that they are encroaching.

Another reason for many other diurnal birds starting to sing at night has a lot to do with living in urban areas. According to researchers, these birds sing more at nighttime to not compete with the usual sounds of the day, such as cars, other animals and the hustle and bustle of the city.

Robin erithacus rubecula standing on a branch.

What time do birds go to sleep?

As birds cannot tell time as we humans do, they depend on the natural cycle of the rising and setting of the sun to know when to go the bed.

Diurnal birds often rise in the early morning, which is when you are sure to hear the most chirping, and roost when the last rays of the setting down go out.

Nocturnal birds follow the opposite schedule, rising to hunt after the sun sets and retreating into dark, shady nooks with the onset of the new day. Birds also tend to nap quite a bit during the portion of time when they are awake, restoring their energy after time spent foraging and hunting for prey.

This affects the time they sing, as they use their calls as a mode of communication and defend their territory from other birds.

Can you hear birds at night?

Yes, you can hear many birds singing at night if you listen.

Depending on where you live and the amount of noise in the surrounding areas, it is possible to relax and listen to the sounds of the night, which includes the songs of many birds.

If you are a night owl, you might find it very peaceful to listen to birds singing, as their beautiful voices form an orchestra which can be enjoyed by all.

Birds cannot be stopped from singing at night as it is a part of their natural routines, the only thing you can do is try to enjoy their music, or drown out excessive sound by closing your windows, putting up bird nets or wearing earmuffs to bed.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Birds That Sing At Night: What's The Matter With The Songsters!

then why not take a look at Are Maggots Flies? Fascinating Fly Life Cycle Facts For Kids, or Can Dogs Eat Turnips? Healthy Turnips Can Be Your Dog's Next Good Food?

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Written by Tanya Parkhi

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya Parkhi picture

Tanya ParkhiBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.

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