Do Birds Fly at night? | 7 Reason Why Do Birds Fly At Night

do birds fly at night

You must have seen birds flying at night. Have you wondered why do birds fly at night? The research indicates that at night, several birds lead lives just as exciting as those they lead by day. The regularity at which a bird flies at night will rely on whether they are nocturnal or diurnal. The prior one will fly every night to conduct its daily activities, while the latter will only fly at night if they are migrating.   

Do Birds Fly At Night?

Yes, birds fly at night. Flying is a habitual mode that all birds will do. Although every bird can fly at night, the frequency will depend on many factors. The maximum number of birds you will notice flying at night are nocturnal, the most active after sunset. In North America, these birds make up around thirty percent of all bird species. 

Now, the nocturnal birds will fly at night as the diurnal birds will fly during the day. Nocturnal birds live away from urban regions and are primarily available in woodlands or near water. While diurnal birds, active during the day, will aim to sleep as much as possible at night, enabling them to rest and resist predators. 

Diurnal birds do not have eyesight which is conditioned to low light levels. It implies that night flying is not natural to them except for the survival impulse.

What Types of Birds Fly at Night?

Most birds that fly at night are nocturnal species. But, some species are crepuscular, which means they are most active at sunset and sunrise. 

Nocturnal bird types, like nighthawks, owls, herons, and frogmouths, are very active during the night. They hunt, forage, care for their young and do other activities essential for survival in the night hours.

7 Reasons Why Do Birds Fly At Night?

Stay Safe from the Predators 

Diurnal birds will primarily rest at night, but one aspect is sure to make them fly at night, and that is any indication of danger. If a bird feels a predator is close, it will become very loud and fly off to flee from the threat. The truth that birds can fly implies they will be eligible to reach areas most predators cannot get.

To Fulfil Diet Needs

Birds will fly during the night to find food. Nocturnal birds are generally found foraging during the night. It is when a ton of insects will be active for the birds. Flying around enables the birds to accomplish various behaviors in which they can grab insects down to attack and kill prey. Food helps birds with enough power to fly around during their active hours.

Find Mates 

Natural birds fly at night to find mates. Springtime can be hectic for birds to finish flying exhibits as it’s prime breeding season. Male birds use numerous flying methods, such as diving, wing flapping, and feather flashing. It enables them to attract the awareness of female birds. These flying exhibits will often occur alongside lots of chirping and singing. The males with detailed displays are impressive to the females and most inclined to mate with them.

To Protect Their Region

Birds will select a region of land that they contend as their span of territory. It is very carefully chosen to give them a reasonable opportunity of surviving. An adequate territory will provide birds with food, water, and shelter. Adequate territories are in great demand, and once a bird discovers an adequate one, they do not like to give it up. Flying at night is a way that birds can protect this territory. 

Enhance Their Flight

Nocturnal birds will perform what diurnal birds perform but during the night. It comprises young chicks learning to fly. Nocturnal birds must incorporate instinct and practice to improve their flying skills, and they will do this under the cautious eyes of their parents at night. Learning how to fly enables nocturnal birds to remember to withstand as adults. It provides them the opportunity to find shelter, freedom to forage, find mates, defend territory and protect themselves.


Some birds will deliberately migrate at night, whether nocturnal or diurnal. Many songbirds will depart at night as the moon helps them navigate. The night is a much more reasonable time for some birds to migrate as night brings a calmer and cooler environment. It enables birds to preserve energy as they do not need to work so heavily.


Birds are competent animals and will understand a lot through socializing behaviors. Birds require a lot of mental impulses when interacting with other birds. Socializing can enable young birds to learn how to find food, fly, and interact with each other. Hunting and taunting other birds is a widespread form of flight play that birds will perform. 

11 Birds That Fly At Night 

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl is a strictly nocturnal owl that actively chases at night. These quiet hunters fly over the ground or even in the water to hunt prey such as rabbits, mice, and ducks. They use their outstanding eyesight and hearing to discover and capture their prey in the nighttime. You can see these owls throughout North America in several habitats, including deserts, cities, forests, backyards, and grasslands.


Nightingales are prominent songbirds with influential singing voices varying from trills and whistles to gurgles. These birds fly at night during migration. You can find them in Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, where they migrate according to the season.  


Killdeers are fascinating birds as they can be active day or night. Usually, during the non-breeding season, you will notice them flying around at night to find food. It is because of the high amount of insects and the deduction of predators.

Yellow Warbler 

These are bright yellow birds around 4.5 inches and reside across central and northern North America. These are nocturnal birds, and they migrate during the fall and spring. Nighttime migration is widespread among birds needing to avoid predators. Nonetheless, they still must be cautious of owls and crashing into houses.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbirds occasionally seem never to get sleep. These birds are famous for singing during the night to entice mates and protect their territories. You can see them flying gradually around their territory at night to persecute any birds that interfere. These birds are widespread in Mexico, Canada, and throughout the US.

Barn Owl

Some owls are crepuscular; the barn owl is a precisely nocturnal species. These owls are the most widespread worldwide and can be sewn throughout the U.S, except for regions with high elevations. As their name indicates, they will roost in barn houses and reside in forest edges, cities, farmland, and other open areas.


Herons are very active at night and generally use dark hours to attack prey at the water’s edge. They will fly to water sources overnight to gain a good food supply.


They are nocturnal birds of prey. They are built to fly at night and have big eyes for seeing adequately in the dark. But not all species of owls are nocturnal ones, and the most widespread owl species is the great horned owl.


Several shorebirds are crepuscular because low and high tides make it difficult for them to get their food.  Shorebirds you will see flying at night are the oystercatchers, American woodcock, and stilts.


They are another nocturnal variety of birds. They are loud birds that like to chase insects in the dark. Popular nightjars flying at night are common poor will, whip-poor-wills, and nighthawks.


During summer, waterfowl birds are more active at night. This transitions once the winter weather arrives. Waterfowl will primarily fly around for food at night. Few species of waterfowl are thought to be modified to night feeding to prevent human activity during the day.

Which Bird Migrates At Night?

Birds usually migrate between a winter and a summer home. Migrating is risky and uses a ton of energy. So the gifts have to be greater than the dangers of staying put. 

Frequently, birds migrate north where excess insect food is available in summer to grow rapidly. But during winter, there are no insects. So they migrate back to the tropics, where they can find insects. Swifts, Swallows, Falcons, Cranes, Pelicans, Loons, Hawks, and Hummingbirds migrate mainly during the day. Many other bird species migrate at night. Migrating birds fly at several heights. Several flies between 5,000 feet and 20,000 feet. 

Flying non-stop for a period of time is energy-intensive and builds heat. So flying at night at taller elevations keeps birds cooler. 

Night migrant birds include insect eaters such as flycatchers, warblers, and tanagers. Seed eater birds migrate at night, too. These are buntings, cowbirds, sparrows, and grosbeaks. Fruit-eating migrants include thrushes, orioles, and waxwings. Also, ducks and geese migrate at night. Many birds begin migrating after the sun sets. Numerous birds keep flying until dawn, relying upon the weather.


So the answer for do birds fly at night? Is yes, nocturnal birds are very active during the night hours.  The frequency of this will rely on the species of birds. There are two kinds of birds that are nocturnal and diurnal. 

Nocturnal birds are more active at night than other birds during the day. It helps them to find food, shelter, and mates. However, nocturnal birds are not the only ones active at night. Every bird will fly during the night as a survival means to flee from predators. Migrating birds will frequently fly at night as it delivers them many advantages, such as safety from predators and saving energy.


Can bird see at night?

Yes, several nocturnal birds can see in the dark. Huge eyes obtain more ambient light than humans are conditioned to see.

What causes birds to fly at night?

Birds generally active during the day get lost, which can steer bird migrations at night. Pollution is the most widespread reason for the confusion in birds, and diurnal birds can be disoriented at night because of houses and street lights in urban regions.

Which bird is active at night?

Nocturnal birds are inclined to be sighted in the early morning. Some of the nocturnal birds are owls, nightjars, herons, night parrots, nightingales, and nighthawks.

Do black birds fly at night?

Yes, black birds fly at night. These birds take to the skies between dusk and midnight, shifting from day to night activity.

Can birds see in the dark?

Nocturnal birds can see in the dark and have a highly advanced sense of night vision, facilitating them to fly in darkness. In contrast, other birds are adapted for daylight vision with limited eyesight at night.

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Dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of the natural world, Andrew Daniel brings content for birds that are authentic and researched through reputable sources. Andrew Daniel combines all his experience, knowledge, and passion for updating the audience regarding the different habits of birds.