For many people, it might be strange hearing birds chirping at night. Interestingly though, this is quite normal behavior for many different types of birds. Read this article to understand why birds chirp at night and to learn many other interesting facts like:
- Why do birds chirp in general?
- Why do birds chirp at night?
- Which birds chirp at night
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Why Do Birds Chirp At Night – Interesting Facts
Why Do Birds Chirp?
To answer the question of why do birds chirp at night, we first need to understand why birds call at all. This seems like such a simple question, but how many of us really know the answer?
Well, it’s not because they are in a good mood, or feeling musical. For birds, singing is an important part of survival and birds chirp for a few different reasons. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of bird vocalizations and what they mean.
Early mornings and late afternoons are a time when the males of many bird species can be heard singing. The most important reason for their song is to tell other male birds in the area that they are still there.
A singing warbler, for example, is basically announcing to other warblers that: ‘I am a warbler, I am me, this is my territory’. So by singing, he is defending his territory to keep other males out.
Bird songs also help him to attract mates, and act to reinforce a pair’s bond. In some kinds of birds, the male and female birds sing together in a duet for this reason.
Birds also make other, less musical sounds. These shorter sounds are usually known as calls and they can be used for quite a few different reasons.
Did You Know?
There are certain bird species that can learn and remember over a hundred different songs. For instance, Northern Mockingbirds are known to memorize hundreds of songs. And they are incredible learners. They have been observed copying tunes and sounds from other bird species. Mockingbirds aren’t the only prolific singers from class Aves. Male western meadowlarks also keep a diverse repertoire of songs numbering between 50 to 100.
Alarm calls are sounds that birds make when there is some form of threat nearby. This could be something like a stalking house cat, a hunting snake, or a falcon flying overhead. These alarm calls are how birds react to alert their mates, and other birds in the area, of danger so that they can also get to safety.
Birds use different alarm calls for different threats. When birds see something like a sharp-shinned hawk flying overhead, which poses a real danger to any songbird, they use a soft alarm call. These calls can be heard by other songbirds, but not easily pinpointed by the hawk.
Other threats, like snakes and cats, for example, are only dangerous when the birds aren’t aware of them. For this reason, birds will chirp loudly and boldly when they find those animals. These alarm calls often bring many birds into the area and they then all join in ‘shouting’ at the threat.
Contact calls are another, non-musical bird sound that you might hear. These calls are used to keep birds from getting separated from each other so that they always know where their partners or group members are.
When a pair or flock of birds are out foraging, they will often call softly from time to time to make sure they’re still within hearing distance of each other. This behavior ensures that every member of the flock is able to pick up on the all-important alarm call in case a predator comes along. If a predator arrives and that pair or flock gets a fright and flies off in different directions, they can use a louder contact call to find each other again.
Another important reason for contact calling is so that birds don’t crash into each other when in flight. Birds that fly together in flocks will make flight calls repeatedly so the others know exactly where they are while flying. This is especially important in birds that fly at night like ducks for instance.
One of the most persistent calls you are likely to hear from birds is the begging of chicks in the nest. The cries of baby birds are a strong stimulus for the parent birds to provide food.
Part of this might be because the parents know that predators might hear the chicks begging. If you’ve never heard this kind of bird call, it often sounds like a soft and continuous peeping sound and the baby birds are basically saying: ‘feed me, feed me!’
Once they reach fledgling age, however, they will start to experiment with the different calls made by their species. They will also learn the meaning of different calls at this stage of their lives and start to mimic their parents’ calls.
It can be very easy to find a nest full of baby birds by just listening to the noise they make. These youngsters have no sense of danger or time and can sometimes be heard chirping at night. Chicks might also call loudly if they fall out of the nest, and their parents will often join in with agitated calls that sound similar to alarm calls.
Why do birds chirp at night?
Now that you know a little bit more about why birds chirp and call, we can move on to why do birds make noise at night.
Most birds do not sing at night, although there are exceptions. Nocturnal birds like owls and nightjars will sing at night rather than during the day. These nocturnal bird chirps vary depending on the kind of bird calling and you might hear anything from the hooting of a Great Horned Owl to the nocturnal vocalizations of a Whip-poor-will, or even the scary screeching of a Barn Owl.
Some birds that are most active during the day will also sing at night. Birds like blackbirds and mockingbirds are good examples of day birds that sing at night. These birds tweeting at night works well for them because it is much quieter then, so their calls travel further and can be heard better.
Because sound is such an important way for birds to communicate, the rising amount of noise in urban areas in modern times can make it difficult for birds to hear each other. Scientists have found that bird calls at night are being heard more and more often because built-up areas get quieter after dark.
Diurnal birds might also use alarm calls at night if a predator like a prowling cat has been spotted. So if you wonder why birds chirp at night in your area, your family pet might be the cause.
Which Birds Sing At Night?
Many kinds of birds might sing after dark. Here is a short list of birds that you might hear at night:
- American Robin
- Hermit Thrush
Did You Know?
There are birds that sing at dawn instead of at night. These birds typically break into song around 4 AM or an hour before the sun rises. Here’s a short list of birds that are dawn singers:
- Eurasian Blackcaps
- European Robins
- Song Thrushes
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do birds chirp at night?
Birds that make noise at night might have a few different reasons for doing so. The most common reasons for birds to call at night are for territorial reasons, to alert other birds to danger, and to keep in contact with each other.
What bird sings at night?
There are quite a few different birds that chirp at night, but the most often heard are owls, nighthawks, whip-poor-wills, killdeers, blackbirds, and mockingbirds.
Do birds sleep at night?
Most birds are active during the day only and sleep at night. These birds are said to be diurnal. There are some birds, however, that are awake at night (nocturnal), and sleep during the day.
There’s always something new to learn about birds and their behavior. That’s part of what makes them such fascinating animals to watch. After reading this article, hearing loud birds chirping at night should no longer be a great mystery to you. Happy bird watching!