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Birds Chirping at Night: 7 Species With Nocturnal Activity

northern mockingbird on edge of a bird bath

Last Updated: September 19, 2022

Some birds are more active during the daytime, while others display nocturnal activity, like night singing.

Let's face it; most people enticed to birdwatching is because of their melodious songs.

Even those birds singing in daylight hours sound more enchanting when they sing at night.

With that in mind...

You might sometimes wonder, why do birds chirp at night if they can sing during the day? Maybe you're even curious which among these chirping birds you can find in your area. Let's dive deep into details to learn more about these birds singing at night.

Do Birds Chirp At Night?

Many bird species find evening the best time to sing because of reduced ambient noise. So, yes, birds do chirp at night, as much as some of them also do during the day.

Some birds, especially the young ones, chirp at nighttime while developing their cognitive capacities.

Like the common nightingale, several species can remember different songs. Owls have this particular spookiness they heard while they were young. It even helps biologists identify the perplexity of a bird song and how birds learn singing from other birds.

About 56% of bird species belong to the songbird group, order Passeriformes. Birds belonging to this group are also well-known as perching birds and are the most skillful singers.

Bird songs are melodic and pleasing sounds to the human ear and are usually complex and lengthy.

However, many skeptics claim that any musical notes you can find in a bird's chirping sound are meaningless. But according to some naturalists, birds sing because they are happy and enjoy singing.

Why Are Birds Chirping At Night?

It is not unusual to hear birds chirping at the first ray of sunlight. Many are familiar with the dynamic sound of the dawn chorus. Likewise, listening to some of these creatures sing at night is not uncommon.

But why do birds chirp at night? You probably wonder like many others out there.

Some would say that birds sing to defend their territory. However, males and females of any species protect their habitat with simple calls, not songs. You will hear migrating birds calling as they move to Central America or South America outside their nesting season.

Also, fewer birds would compete with their vocals at such times, and some would sing out of habit. Aside from that, mating is another reason birds do nocturnal singing at night; they sing to attract a potential mate.

Singing is a way for a bird male to communicate their intention and location to a female bird. Birds interact with other birds through their song to meet their mating needs. These creatures use their vocals to keep a flock together, find a food source, and threaten predators.

Different Species Of Birds Chirping At Night

1. Northern Mockingbird

northern mockingbird at night

This mocking bird is famous for its drastic territorial behavior. The creature naturally defends its hunting ground, nest, courtship, or roosting area. It sings continually with unmistakable eagerness to display its song repertoire.

The Northern mockingbird also has the impressive ability to imitate other species' sounds.

Furthermore, this mockingbird is among the diurnal birds that actively sing even at night. Unlike the male's complex notes, you can also hear its female chirping with clear voices and only do so during spring.


2. Barred Owl

perched barred owl

The barred owl is among the wild birds actively vocal at night. Its song mnemonic is particularly famous with many people, birder or not. You will also hear the larger-sized females singing, which is how you'll notice the male bird has a lower voice.

Aside from vocalizing, these creatures make other noises, one of which is the eerie sound.

Once you start looking where the sound came from, you will be astonished that it came from two barred owls hooting.


3. American Robin

orange and grey bird

Like the European robin, the American robins have this reputation of chirping to protect their winter feeding habitats. Its loud voice will awaken you in the chilly morning air. If you hear these robins sing in unison, you will likely notice how each of them makes distinct sounds.

This robin is a common bird across North America that you will hear twittering in suburban backyards.

Its song varies from one that may chime like a mechanical rhythm, an exceptional pitch, or a reverberating sound with no particular melody.


4. Eastern Screech Owl

two Eastern Screech Owl perched on a log

Many individuals know that only owls have this particular spookiness in the appearance and voice of all the nocturnal birds singing at night. Not to mention how the Eastern screech-owl, for instance, has a hair-raising call while rotating its head in a complete circle.

This head rotation that owls commonly do is partly an illusion and a structural anomaly.

The owl's head only appears to be rotating to the front and around to the opposite shoulder in one swift movement. Hence, the illusion of turning in a full circle, when in truth, this nocturnal bird can only rotate its head by 270 degrees.

Like the great horned owl, the Eastern screech-owl offers excellent listening opportunities at night. In comparison, the song of screech owls sounds like a drooping neigh, while great horned owls have a series of long and short hoots.

You will hear many of the latter's songs at local parks and walking trails during the hooting season.


5. Yellow Breasted Chat

adult Yellow Breasted Chat on a log

The yellow-breasted chat is among the territorial-holding diurnal birds in North America. However, such a bird is more active during the breeding season in spring, and the males are ones who often sing at night.

As its name implies, this chattery bird is effortlessly recognizable with its vividly yellow breast, thick bill, dark olive upperparts, long tail, and white underparts.

It breeds in thickets in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri or the Little Bennett Regional Park in Maryland with other migratory birds.

You will recognize this bird's chirp as one with strange monosyllables of hoots, squawks, mews, gurgles, and pops. It sounds more like mere chatter if you listen closely to its calls and tireless chirp all night.


6. Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush on a dead limb

Let's not forget about the heavily-streaked hermit thrush with its ascending dual-fluted rhythmic sound. Numerous people, even the nonbirders, hail this thrush as America's nightingale, with up to 200 different songs.

This elusive creature earned many praises for its seemingly ethereal pitch, similar to the harmonic sequence of human music.

This reddish-brown virtuoso is not one of the nocturnal birds you will generally hear sing at night. You will only hear its song from the core of the conifer stands in the late evening or at dawn during early spring and late fall.

It mainly feeds on insects, but you can sometimes see it eating berries in winter. Further, both male and female thrushes feed their baby birds, but only the male birds take charge of choosing and defending a nesting ground.


7. Eastern Whip-Poor-Will

Eastern Whip-Poor-Will on a tree

Why are birds chirping at night, like the Eastern Whip-poor-will and many others?

You would hear this fascinating creature vocalizing at night because it courts a potential mate after sunset. This bird is very dynamic in utilizing the first and last light of day for hunting insects they usually scoop out of midair.

It's more active at night because this bird loves the silence that comes with darkness, and there are also minimal predators at such times.

The whip-poor-will's presence is inconspicuous when roosting at daytime and likes to inhabit open woodlands, deciduous and mixed forests, and the savannahs. Its male bird uses all its energy to attract mates and protect its territory.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why are birds chirping at 2 am?

What does it mean when birds chirp at night, especially in the wee hours, like 2 AM? You will typically hear a harmonious wave of bird songs as the first light of dawn sweeps the globe. Such cheerful melodies are well-known as the "dawn chorus".

Birds sing during the wee hours as part of their breeding cycle and territorial defense. Although, some people say there could be spiritual messages behind this bird behavior. It's either an indication of a change in season, symbolizes transformation, or foretells good fortune.

Hearing these birds chirp at precisely 2 AM could mean you have been paying less attention to all the spiritual signs around you. It might be a call to be more sensitive to our lives changing seasons and prepare accordingly for whatever is coming.

How do you stop chirping birds at night?

Most people enjoy hearing birds at night and look forward to hearing their melodic songs. But let's face it, not all birds sound like a chirping nightingale. Some have scary vocals like the black-crowned night heron.

So you probably wonder, why do birds sing at night, even the awful-sounding black-crowned night heron? This bird, in particular, only sings at night due to its nocturnal feeding habit.

Despite this heron's chirp being a nuisance to some, there's no way you can stop it or even the other nighttime songbirds. However, you can use an ultrasonic repeller that produces sounds to drive away these songbirds, or you can also try looking for a quality white noise machine.

Bird netting is another option you can use before the mating season begins. It is the perfect time for this process since most nocturnal birds chirping is because of some nighttime rendezvous.

What bird is famous for its weird noise at night?

There is no doubt that owls are famous for their late-night bird chirp. Most birders and hobbyists refer to their kind as creatures making an eerie, weird noise at night. Every chirp or noise in an owl's vocabulary has a precise meaning, to mark territory or attract a mate.

Listen to the notable sound of a barred owl in this video:

Do birds chirp at night, even if they are diurnal?

On some occasions, you might chance upon a diurnal bird vocalizing at night, which is not unusual but not as familiar as twittering birds in the day. However, some birds get disoriented due to the increasing light pollution, building expansion, and streetlights.

Some birds would confuse the busy streets and lights and think it's already morning. Thus, they become needlessly active when these birds should be resting.

Final Thoughts

In today's world, where music catches the attention of many, it's a good thing that most would still appreciate the natural beauty of bird songs.

Why does a bird sing at night? It is a common question that birders and nonbirders often ask, and we hope to have addressed this accordingly through this article.

A bird chirping at night meaning could vary for several individuals. However, the mystery behind it all makes nighttime singing among birds even more enjoyable. If we take some time to learn more, maybe we will start hearing music in every bird's song.

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