Eagle Owl Raptor

What Birds Are Active At Night? A Comprehensive Guide!

There are many types of birds, and some of them have been observed to be active at night. There are a few different reasons why this happens.

Some species are nocturnal, meaning they fly or hunt for food during the nighttime hours. Some migrate during these times because it’s easier to navigate in darkness without any light.

Birds have a variety of adaptations to help them see in the dark, such as special cells called “rods” and “cones.” These specialized cells allow them to see better than we can in low light.

Some birds have also developed an acute sense of hearing and smell which helps them find food sources while flying at night. 


Great Horned Owl
Photo by Bicanski on Pixnio

Owls are a common nocturnal animal, meaning they are active at night. Owls have excellent hearing and use it to find prey or predators. They also rely on their sense of sight as well, but the majority of owl species hunt in the dark so that they can be stealthy like the great-horned owl or the northern saw-whet owl.

There are some owl species who do not fit this pattern though; these owls live during the day such as barn owls and screech owls.

Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny Frogmouth
Image by Steve Bidmead from Pixabay

Frogmouths are nocturnal, meaning they become active at night. During the daytime they relax and at night come out to eat. Frogmouths typically hunt for insects on the ground in tall grasses or near water sources, as well as small mammals like rodents and bats that live near these places.

They can be found throughout most of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, Asia and some parts of Africa.

Common Nighthawk

The Common Nighthawk is nocturanal and begins hunting late evening to early morning feeding on moths and other large flying insects. They are most active from dusk until just before dawn, when they roost in sheltered areas close to their hunting grounds.

These birds often sit at the tops of tall trees or poles, where they scan for prey with quick side-to-side head movements while still maintaining a steady perch.

Black-crowned Night-heron

Night herons are usually not active at night, but they will come out to look for food when there is a full moon. Night herons wait by the shore at night to surprise their prey. They primarily eat small fish, frogs, and other water creatures.

Although these birds do occasionally feed during the day, they are most active in the evening or early morning hours when it is dark outside. The Night Heron can be found along many waterways in Florida 

Common Nightingale

Common Nightingale
Image by shifa kaynat from Pixabay

The Nightingale is a small bird that sings. It is one of the first birds to start singing in the mornings and one of the last to stop singing at night.

The Nightingale’s song has been described as “the most beautiful sound in nature.” Nightingales are found all over Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. They live in fields, orchards, parks and gardens with dense shrubs for nesting sites. 


Nightjars are active at night, contrary to what their name might suggest. The nocturnal birds feed mostly near dawn and dusk and use sharp vision to detect prey from a distance. Nightjars live in forests, meadows, grasslands, deserts and mountains.

There are over 200 species of Nightjars in the world. These birds can be found living in forests, meadows, grasslands, deserts and mountains. Though they do not have a very diverse diet they primarily

Stone Curlew

Stone Curlew
Image by Judy Cronje from Pixabay

Stone-curlews are seen in  Africa, Asia and Australia, and are mainly active at night, this is because their prey can’t see them so easily in the dark. They’re one of the few species that have been seen hunting by moonlight and in darkness during full moons or near total eclipses.

Stone Curlews are primarily nocturnal birds with very good hearing. They spend the day in a wide variety of habitats including marshes with tall grasses or dense reeds for cover.  Their main diet consists of earthworms, but they also eat insects.

Yellow-breasted Chat

The Yellow-breasted Chat is a bird species that are diurnally active and known to sing often at night. The name of the song varies, but they are commonly referred to as Nightingale Songbirds.

They are native to North America and breed in Eastern Canada from Quebec eastward into New Brunswick, south through the United States down to Texas, then southwest through Mexico into Central America. 

Kiwi Bird

Kiwi is the native name for a group of around five species of flightless birds endemic to New Zealand. The kiwi is an iconic symbol of New Zealand, and a national emblem in some other countries. Kiwi birds are nocturnal which means that they come out at nightfall and  forage for food.

Kiwi have adapted many interesting ways to cope with being a nocturnal bird including making little noise, having excellent hearing, strong eyesight when it’s darker, or camouflage feathers.  Kiwi feed on earthworms, larvae, insects and invertebrates in the soil by using a long beak-like tongue called a proboscis.

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Eastern Whip-poor-will
Image by dalmoarraes from Pixabay

The Eastern Whip-poor-will is a nocturnal bird that is very rare doing most of its hunting at night when the sun goes down. It lives in areas east of the Rocky Mountains and south to Florida, west as far as eastern Texas and northern Arizona, and north into Canada.

Their preferred habitat are forests and, woodlands and eat mostly insects, small mammals, frogs, lizards, centipedes and millipedes. The Eastern Whip-poor-will also makes some interesting sounds including: buzzing wings during flight; high-pitched “seet” calls as they hover over potential prey

European Robin

European Robin
Image by David Reed from Pixabay

The European Robin is a small, light brown bird with an orange breast, that lives in Europe and Northern Asia. It can be found in open woodland habitats, scrublands, orchards, parks and gardens.  In the spring, European Robins are often heard singing at night. The reason for this is that during this time of year, they are very active and territorial.

When they have found a mate, they will sing to protect their territory from other robins who might want it as well. This means that when people hear these birds singing at night in the springtime, it’s a sign that winter is over and the season has changed!

Virginia Rail

Virginia Rail are secretive by nature and more often not seen but heard at night making grunting noises. The Virginia Rail is a member of the Rallidae family which includes other rails such as the Black Rail,  King Rail, Clapper Rail, American Coot, and Black Crake. This bird is only found in North America with most sightings in coastal regions of Eastern Canada to the Western Gulf Coast of Texas.

Mostly active during nighttime hours, it can be difficult to observe this elusive bird due to its habitat.  Virginia Rails are one of the few birds with a long pointed bill and strong legs to stand on wet marshy ground and reach for food underwater or on land. Their diet consists mainly of insects, earthworms, snails, slugs, seeds and berries.

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush
Image by CSJoyner from Pixabay

Hermit Thrush is a migratory bird that moves from one region to the other. It has been observed by researchers and wildlife enthusiasts that this species is most active at night when they migrate, only stopping for a few days in each region before continuing their journey.

The hermit thrush belongs to the order of turdidae which includes over 360 different types of birds. 

American Robin

American Robin
Image by Veronika Andrews from Pixabay

Birds are known for their beautiful melodies that they produce in the morning and evening. What is not as well-known is that many birds sing at night, especially during springtime when it may be a courtship ritual. American Robins have been found to sing from dusk until dawn with their singing often becoming more frequent after sunset.

It has been hypothesized that this nighttime singing may serve a variety of purposes such as attracting mates or repelling competitors.