What do birds do at night? Your complete guide
If you’ve heard birds singing and tweeting at night, or perhaps you’re wondering what exactly they get up to in the early hours of the morning, we’ve answered some of your most-asked questions. Of course, some birds will be sleeping at night just like us, but you’d be surprised at how many wild birds are active during the night.
Diurnal vs nocturnal species: do birds sleep at night?
If you’re asking yourself “do birds sleep at night?”, then the short answer is yes, most do. Like humans, most birds are diurnal which means they are active during the day and sleep at night. However, there are many birds that are nocturnal, such as owls, nighthawks and night-herons – also known as nocturnal birds of prey.
If you’ve heard birds singing and tweeting during the late hours of the night, our guide can help you understand why.
Where do birds sleep at night?
Most birds, including small garden birds, are known to take shelter high up in the trees or in cavities, if the hole is big enough. They might even huddle together in a small place if it’s a particularly cold night. If you’re looking to provide a safe place for the birds in your garden to sleep, a birdhouse will do the trick. Don’t forget to grab some of their favourite bird food, such as our suet for birds!
Waterfowl such as ducks and geese are known to float on the water to sleep, while wading birds like herons and flamingos will stand in the water.
What time do birds go to sleep?
Diurnal birds, such as the collared dove and the blue tit, go to sleep as the sun sets, and will often awake when the sun rises. This is because their body clocks have been finely tuned (as ours once were) to do so. However, just like humans, birds can be disrupted by artificial lighting such as streetlights.
Why can I hear birds singing at night?
If you’ve been hearing strange bird calls at night, and you’re pretty certain it’s not a nocturnal owl, it could be down this street lighting. It’s common for birds in urban and suburban areas to be woken from their slumber by artificial lighting. Birds like the robin, the song thrush and the hedge sparrow are all known to sing well into the night when they are disturbed.
Robins are one of the first birds to start singing in the morning and are often one of the last to stop singing at night – they have even adapted to hunting for food when it’s dark. Sedge and reed warblers are also well known for singing a chorus or two during the night.
Do birds fly at night?
Nocturnal birds do of course fly at night but it’s not common for other birds to fly at night unless they are disturbed. If disturbed, you might see a bird flying to another safe spot to sleep, such as another tree or garden. However, there is such a thing as night migration for some birds. Sparrows and thrushes are known to fly at night when migrating south to avoid any dangerous predators.
If you spot any wild birds at night (or during the day) don’t forget to log them on our Birdspotter map!