12 Birds That Chirp at Night

Birds That Chirp at Night

Hearing the sweet sound of chirping birds has a calming effect on most of us. All bird species have their own reason and schedule for chirping. Some sing dawn chores that wake us up in a warm manner. Others chirp during the day or in the evenings when most of us are too busy even to notice them. However, if you hear a bird singing in the middle of the night, wouldn’t you feel weird? After all, nights are meant for rest and sleep, right?

Well, not necessarily. Just because we use our nights for resting doesn’t mean that the birds have to oblige. Some birds are only awake at night and, thus, sing when we sleep, such as owls.

However, there are other reasons behind birds chirping at night as well. Some birds do it when they feel threatened or disoriented, while others do it to warn their partners about a possible danger. Chirping also plays an essential role in the courtship of some bird species.

Today, we are going to talk about the birds found in the United States that might disrupt your sleep with their midnight songs.


Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Scientific name – Strix varia
Body length – 40-63 centimeters (16-25 inches)
Weight – about 610 grams to 1.5 kilograms
Wingspan – 96-125 centimeters (38-49 inches)
Lifespan – about 10 years
Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – not globally threatened

The Barred Owls are more commonly referred to as “Hoot owls”. Endemic to the eastern part of North America, these birds have an overall grey body with heavily streaked underparts. Their mantles have white bars, with several white spots on their covert wings. Their call is a series of eight hoots that sounds like “ok ok ok ok ok buhooh”.

Why do the Barred Owls chirp at night?

Owls are known to be nocturnal birds that sleep through the day and venture out at night. That’s why it is obvious for them to chirp at night when they are most active.

Barred Owl Sound




Scientific name – Charadrius vociferus
Body length – 20-28 centimeters (7-11 inches)
Weight – about 70 to 121 grams
Wingspan – 59-63 centimeters (23-25 inches)
Lifespan – about 10 years
Diet – omnivore, insectivore
Conservation status – least concern

Killdeers are one of the larger members of the plover family that are found all over the Americas. Their upper body is mostly covered in brown with rufous fringes.

Behind their eyes is a white stripe that covers their forehead. Their underparts are entirely white with the exception of two black breast stripes. They have a nasal note to their calls, which sound like “deee”, “tyeee” or “kil-deee”.

Why do the Killdeers chirp at night?

The Killdeers forage at night because of the abundance of insects as well as to avoid any predators. This is probably why you can hear them chirping at night.

Killdeer sound


Common Nightingale

Common Nightingale

Scientific name – Luscinia megarhynchos
Body length – 15-16 centimeters (5-6 inches)
Weight – about 25 grams
Wingspan – about 25 centimeters (10 inches)
Lifespan – about 1 to 8 years
Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – least concern

Also known as “rufous nightingales”, the Common Nightingales are small passerine birds that are not natural inhabitants of North America but have been introduced to the continent.

Although initially they were included in the family of thrushes, they now belong to the family of the old-world flycatchers. They are only slightly larger than the European Robins in size and have a faded rufous body with a reddish tail. Their underparts range from white to dull yellow in the shade.

Why do the Nightingales sing at night?

Whenever you hear the Nightingales singing at night, it is always a male. Males do it as a part of their courtship ritual in order to attract a mate.

Common Nightingale call


Black Rail

Black Rail

Scientific name – Laterallus jamaicensis
Body length – 10-15 centimeters
Weight – about 29-39 grams
Wingspan – 22-28 centimeters
Lifespan – about 2.4 years
Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – threatened/endangered

Found in the scattered parts of North America, the Black Rails are mouse-sized members of the rail family. Just as their name suggests, their body is entirely black with white speckles all over their back and wings.

Their beaks and legs are black as well, with only their irises being red. These birds are opportunistic feeders and can eat seeds, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.

Why do the Black Rails chirp at night?

Only the male Black Rails sing at night in some areas. It is a habitual practice for them.

Black Rail sound


Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Scientific name – Tyto alba
Body length –  33-39 centimeters (13-15 inches)
Weight – about 224 to 710 grams
Wingspan – 80-95 centimeters (11-17 inches)
Lifespan – about 4 years
Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – least concerns

Although the Barn Owls don’t belong to the family of the true owls, they are the most beautiful as well as the most widespread owl species in North America.

Their face is heart-shaped, which looks rounder and more adorable due to the lack of ear tufts. They have a pale body that ranges from brown to grey in the shade, with their upper parts being darker than their underparts. They feed on shrews, crickets, termites, toads, and even bats if they are available in the locality.

Why do the Barn Owls chirp at night?

Barn Owls, like all the other owls, are nocturnal birds and, thus, chirp at night.

Barn Owl sound



Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Scientific name – Nycticorax nycticorax
Body length – 58-66 centimeters (22-26 inches)
Weight – about 727 to 1.04 kilograms
Wingspan – 115-118 centimeters (45-46 inches)
Lifespan – about 10-15 years
Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – stable

The Black-crowned Night Herons are medium-sized stocky birds that belong to the family of herons. These birds are widely distributed across the world except in extremely cold regions, as well as in Australia.

They have a white-grey body, with the exception of yellow legs, red eyes, and a black cap and back. Inhabiting both freshwaters as well as salt-water wetlands, these birds can stand still for hours in the wait of their prey. They mainly feed on fish and other aquatic creatures.

Why do the Black-crowned Night Herons chirp at night?

The Black-crowned Night Herons are different from the other Herons due to their nocturnal feeding habits. It is only because they are awake at night to feed, and due to that, it is possible to hear them sing at night.

Black-Crowned Night Heron Call


Yellow-Breasted Chat

Scientific name – Icteria virens
Body length – 17-19.1 centimeters (6.7-7.5 inches)
Weight – about 20 to 33 grams
Wingspan – 23-27 centimeters (9.1-10.6 inches)
Lifespan – about 5 to 8 years
Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – endangered

Although the Yellow-breasted Chats were once placed in the family of the new world warblers, they are now the only members of the Icteriidae family. They are the only songbirds that are found in North America.

As their name suggests, they have bright yellow throat and breast, with white underparts and dark olive upperparts. Around their eyes are prominent white rings that distinguish them from the other songbirds. Although they feed both on insects and berries, wild grapes and blackberries are their favorite.

Why do the Yellow-breasted Chats sing at night?

The song of the Yellow-breasted Chats is a mix of whistles, hoots, clucks. Although they’re diurnal birds that usually sings usually in the evening, it is only during springtime that they begin to sing at night. It is, thus, safe to assume that their sing is relevant to their mating behavior.

Yellow-Breasted Chat sound


Hermit Thrush

Scientific name – Catharus guttatus
Body length – 15-18 centimeters (5.9-7.1 inches)
Weight – about 18-37 grams
Wingspan – 25-30 centimeters (9.8-11.8 inches)
Lifespan – about 10 years
Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – least concern

The Hermit Thrushes are the small members of the family of thrushes that are endemic to North America. They have a compact, stocky body with long wings and brown upperparts. Their underparts are mostly white, with a heavy streaking around their chest.

They also have a reddish tail, pink legs, and thin, white eyerings. The song of the Hermit Thrushes is endlessly melodious and sounds much like a flute. It has often been described as the finest sound in nature. They feed on berries and other wild fruits during winter, while during the summer and spring seasons, they eat insects.

Why do the Hermit Thrushes sing at night?

The Hermit Thrushes are not regular night-singers but only do so in spring, i.e., their breeding season. It is because the nightly songs are a part of their courtship rituals.

Hermit Thrush sound


American Robin

American Robin

Scientific name – Turdus migratorius
Body length – 23-28 centimeters (9-11 inches)
Weight – about 77 grams
Wingspan – 31-41 centimeters (12-16 inches)
Lifespan – about 2 years
Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – least concern

The American Robins are small birds that belong to the genus of true thrushes. These birds are among one of the most widespread bird species in North America.

Both of their sexes look almost alike, with the males being heavier and more brightly-colored than their female counterparts. They are highly social birds who gather in large flocks at night.

Being omnivores, they are equally dependent on both fruits and berries as well as insects. These birds often end up becoming prey to snakes, domestic cats, and hawks.

Why do the American Robins chirp at night?

The American Robins are not naturally night-chirpers. In fact, they only chirp at nights when they are startled or disturbed by a bright light or a loud sound. For these birds, chirping is a reaction to any sudden stimulus.

American Robin sound


Eastern Whip-Poor-Will

Eastern Whip-Poor-Will

Scientific name – Antrostomus vociferus
Body length – 22-27 centimeters (8.7-10.6 inches)
Weight – about 42-69 grams
Wingspan – 45-50 centimeters (18-20 inches)
Lifespan – about 4 years
Diet – insectivore
Conservation status – threatened

Endemic to North America, the Eastern Whip-poor-wills are medium-sized members of the nightjar family. They are popular for their brilliant camouflage body because of which they are often heard but seldom seen. These birds have a diet that is entirely dependent on insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, moths, stoneflies, wasps, fireflies, etc.

Why do the Eastern Whip-poor-wills chirp at night?

Although it is only on rare occasions that one hears the calls of the Whip-poor-wills, it is understandable. They are, in fact, nocturnal birds that sleep during the day. Thus, they can only chirp at night, the only time when they are awake.

Eastern Whip-Poor-Will sound


Northern Mockingbird

Scientific name – Mimus polyglottos
Body length – 20.5-28 centimeters (8.1-11 inches)
Weight – about 40-58 grams
Wingspan – 31-38 centimeters (12-15 inches)
Lifespan – about 8 years in the wild; 20 years in captivity
Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – least concern

The Northern Mockingbirds are the only mockingbird species that are found in North America. They are the members of the new world family of passerine birds (mimids) that have dark grey upperparts and paler underparts. Their bills are black in color with parallel white wing bars on flight feathers.

Why do the Northern Mockingbirds chirp at night?

The Northern Mockingbirds are typical diurnal birds that have no business being noisy at night, except in the breeding season. If you hear a Northern Mockingbird chirping at night, it is probably because they are looking for mates.

Northern Mockingbird sound


Common Loon

Common Loon

Scientific name – Gavia Immer
Body length – 66-91 centimeters (26-36 inches)
Weight – about 2.2-7.6 kilograms
Wingspan – 127-147 centimeters (4.2-4.10 feet)
Lifespan – about 9 to 15 years
Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – least concern

Also known as the “great northern diver”, the Common Loons are one of the larger members of the loon family. Both sexes of these birds look alike, although the males are much heavier than their female counterparts. They have a broad black head with black wings with white underparts and a wide, grey bill with a pointed edge.

Why do the Common Loons make noise at night?

If you can hear the Common Loons calling at night, it is probably the tremolo you’re listening to. Common Loons are known for producing this peculiar call, which sounds a lot like a crazy laugh. However, the reason for the tremolo is quite serious.

A Common Loon produces a tremolo only when it feels threatened. Also, these birds are known to call at night when they are lonely.

Common Loon sound


Birds that chirp at night (final thoughts)

Although bird-chirps are mostly considered to be a cute thing, when it wakes you up in the middle of the night, it doesn’t seem so great anymore. Many people living in the suburbs who have mockingbirds or around their houses complain of these chirps incessantly. Now that you know which of the bird species are the troublemakers, you can have more peaceful nights.