Why Do Birds Sing At Night?

Singing Robin

A number of our readers have written to let us know that they have been woken up during the night by bird song.

Nocturnal bird song can be quite common in cities and urban areas and until recently it was thought that light pollution from street lighting and office buildings was the main reason for birds singing late into the night and early morning.

However, researchers at Sheffield University have suggested the high levels of noise in towns and cities during the day is drowning out the mating calls of some birds also forcing them to sing at night. The study was part of a project to find out the effects of urbanization on biodiversity.

Despite nightingales being the most famous of all nocturnal singing birds, the most common singer in the UK’s towns and gardens is in fact the robin. Robins sing all year round and many reports of nightingales singing in the middle of the night during winter have in fact turned out to be robins.

Robins are one of the first birds to start signing in the morning and one of the last to finish at night so are used to singing in low levels of night. Other birds that sing at night are nightjars and corncrakes, but these are summer visitors so you won’t hear them during the winter months.

Find out more about the habits of 10 nocturnal birds.

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