If you’re a birder, you’ve wondered what are the birds that are active at night. After all, many birds we see during the day are tucked away in their nests or roosting when the sun goes down. But there are still plenty of interesting nocturnal birds to be found!
Owls, Nightjar, and Kiwi birds are some notable examples of night birds. These birds hunt or prey during the night. However, these birds aren’t active during the day, resting somewhere in the bushes or their nest.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the common species that are active at night, as well as what time of year you can expect to find them out and about. So if you’re looking for something different to do with your birding hobby, consider heading out into the darkness and seeing what you can find!
What Birds are active at night?
While most birds are active during the day, there are also a number of species that are active at night. These nocturnal birds often have special adaptations that help them to hunt and navigate in the dark.
In addition, many night-flying birds are also known for their striking calls, which can often be heard in the darkness. While they may not be as well-known as their daily counterparts, these nocturnal birds are an important part of the ecosystem.
Here are some of the most interesting night-flying birds you may not have heard of before.
A common nocturnal bird that we all know about is the owl. These birds use their exceptional sight and hearing for hunting during the night. However, at night, the view of these birds hardly comes to aid.
At night, they’re stealthy and can spot prey from noise. When they find a target, they use their sharp bills to drill through the skull and eat flesh. That’s how they live during the night.
Note that owls can eat small birds or other creatures at once. The great-horned owl species can find prey easily with their exceptional hearing. Saw-whet owls are also a great example of a night bird.
2. Tawny Frogmouth
These birds feed on small insects and bats. Tawny Frogmouths rest during the day and become active at night, just like most birds.
Frogmouths mainly look for insects and beetles near water sources and the ground. If they can’t find any insects, they can go for more giant animals like a bat. These birds are available in Australia, Asia, and some parts of Europe.
Frogmouths look like owls. So, anyone can get confused when seeing them from far. However, nightjars are closer to frogmouths in appearance and other characteristics.
3. Common Nighthawk
After sunset, the Common Nighthawk begins seeking prey. Moths and insects are the primary food source in the early morning hours.
They are most active between sunset and sunrise. Common nighthawks roost in protected sites near their hunting grounds early morning. People can spot them on billboards or on the top of stadium floodlights. It’s indeed a striking sight for bird lovers.
These birds prefer to perch on large trees or poles, where they can often be seen. It’s where they move their heads quickly from side to side while keeping a firm perch in search of prey.
4. Black-crowned Night-heron
The black-crowned night heron is better known as the night heron in Eurasia. These nocturnal birds only eat water creatures like small fishes, frogs, etc. Black-crowned Night-herons need to hunt at night, so we placed them on the list of birds that are active at night.
Unlike other nocturnal birds, these birds will only go hunting when they’re hungry. However, they’ll stay quiet at night on a full stomach and rest during the day. These birds love to surprise their prey by waiting quietly at the sea or river shore. They’ll quickly pounce and eat upon spotting a fish or frog close to their territory.
5. Common Nightingale
One of the most exquisite night birds is the common nightingale. Whenever they’re active, they’ll sing throughout the area. However, they mostly love to hunt and feed on small insects at night. These are probably the prettiest of the birds that are active at night.
Their singing nature makes them the best night birds out in the world. They’re widely available in Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia
Nightjars are diverse, and they’ve got over 200 species worldwide. They have a very sharp vision and use it for exceptional hunting. During the night, they’ll move from forests to meadows and grasslands.
These birds mainly feed on insects and other small creatures like beetles. However, they won’t mind eating bats when necessary. Overall, nightjars are famous nocturnal birds in the world.
7. Stone Curlew
Stone curlews are common in Africa, Asia, and Australia. These birds are most active at night. It is thought that Stone Curlews spend most of their active hours hunting for food at night, where they can hear exceptionally well.
However, they explore a range of environments during the day, such as wetlands with thick grasses. Aside from earthworms, they also consume other insects.
8. Yellow-breasted Chat
Another songbird that is just like the nightingale birds is the yellow-breasted chat. These birds actively sing during the night. However, when necessary, they’ll stop singing and look for food.
They feed on small insects, just like most the nocturnal birds. They’re native to North America. But, you can expect them to breed in different parts of Canada and Mexico. Due to their singing nature, some people don’t mind calling them nightingale songbirds.
9. Kiwi Bird
This bird is nocturnal and native to New Zealand. These birds are symbolic of the country and many other places.
One of the fascinating factors about these birds is that they don’t make much noise at night. Instead, they’ll look for food quietly by coping with the environment.
When these birds feel a predator is following them, they keep calm. Overall, their exceptional eyesight is the main reason they can hunt food at night.
10. European Robin
The European Robin is an orange-breasted bird. It is a little in size and brown in color. Their preferred breeding grounds are across Europe and northern Asia. Open woods, scrublands, orchards, parks, and gardens are good places to look for it.
These birds sing all year long, especially during the spring. Avoid them in the spring season because that’s the most active time. To protect their area from other robins, they will sing when they find a mate. European robins are one of the birds that areactive at night.
11. Virginia Rail
These birds are quiet. They’re active at night hunting food with minimal noise. However, they can make loud noises when they feel endangered.
Note that these birds are only found in North America. They’re exceptional among the Rail birds due to their calmness during hunting.
They have a unique sense of their prey. So, these birds can easily hunt during the night. With pointed bills and strong legs, they’re the sturdiest nocturnal birds.
12. Hermit Thrush
This bird is from the Turdidae family and has over 360 species worldwide. The hermit thrush is one of the few migratory birds that are active at night. They migrate both during the night and daytime. In between migration, they’ll only hunt food at night.
After staying for a few days in each region, they continue their migration all over again.
13. American Robin
One of the few birds that sing from dusk to dawn is the American Robin. These birds have beautiful melodies, and they’re attractive to many bird lovers worldwide.
They’re not active at night for food but to attract their opposite mates. So, mating is the primary reason these birds stay up at night. If you want the visual of these birds, start looking around in the early evening.
What Birds Fly Around At Night?
Not all night birds fly at night. But, depending on the situation, every night bird usually flies during the night at some point. Sparrows aren’t nocturnal, but they’ll still fly at night if they feel threatened. The Hermit Thrush will fly at night for migration among the nocturnal birds.
What Bird Flies At Night And Makes Noises?
European Robin and Yellow-breasted chat will fly at night and make noises. However, birds like American Robins and the Hermit Thrush will sing at night actively. Overall, most nocturnal birds will make noise at night except for a few. For example, the Virginia rail birds are quiet at night. They only make noise when they feel endangered.
What Are Small Birds Active At Night?
Common Nightingale, Kiwi bird, and Night Parrot are three notable examples of small birds that stay are active at night. Also, True Owl and Jungle Owlet are one of the few small owls that stay up at night.
There you have it, a comprehensive guide on nocturnal birds. These are some of the most active birds that are active at night. Now that you know about them try to look for these birds the next time you go out at night. If you’re lucky enough, you might get to see one or two of them.