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10 Birds That Fly at Night

barn owl

Are you curious about birds that take to the skies when the sun goes down? This article explores the fascinating world of birds that fly at night. From their unique adaptations to their haunting calls, we’ll uncover the secrets of these elusive creatures.


Owls are the most well-known birds that fly at night. They are nocturnal predators that hunt small mammals, birds, and insects. They can swoop down on their prey with their keen senses and silent flight without being heard or seen.

One of the most remarkable features of owls is their ability to fly silently. Their feathers are specially adapted to reduce noise, allowing them to sneak up on their prey undetected.

The leading edge of their wings is serrated, which helps to break up the airflow and reduce turbulence. In addition, their feathers are covered in a soft, velvety layer that absorbs sound.

Owls also have incredible night vision. Their eyes are large and forward-facing, which gives them binocular vision and excellent depth perception. They have a high concentration of light-sensitive cells in their eyes, which allows them to see in very low-light conditions. Some species of owls can see in almost complete darkness.

Another interesting fact about owls is that they have asymmetrical ears. This means their ears are different sizes and positioned at different angles on their heads. This allows them to locate the source of a sound with incredible accuracy. They can even hear the movement of prey beneath snow or leaves.

Some of the most common species include the barn owl, the great horned owl, and the snowy owl. Each of these species has its own preferred habitat and prey, but they all share the same incredible adaptations that make them such successful nocturnal hunters.


Nightjars are medium-sized birds with long wings, short legs, and very short bills. They are nocturnal or crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk.

One of the most interesting things about nightjars is their unique hunting style. They mainly hunt at night by resting on the ground or perching on trees before flying up to catch aerial insects, such as moths.

They have a wide beak that helps them catch insects on the wing, and their wings are specially adapted for silent flight, allowing them to sneak up on their prey without being heard.

Nightjars are also known for their distinctive calls, which can be heard echoing through the night. Their calls can range from soft purring too loud, churring noises depending on the species. Some species even have a mechanical-sounding call that resembles the sound of a sewing machine.

There are many different nightjar species, each with its unique characteristics. For example, the common nighthawk is a type of nightjar that is found throughout North and South America. It is known for its erratic flight patterns and sharp, electric peent call.

On the other hand, the European nightjar is a bird of the heathlands and open woodlands of Europe and Asia. It has a distinctive “churr” call and is known for its cryptic plumage, which helps it blend in with its surroundings.

Black-crowned Night Heron

These birds are stocky and relatively small compared to other heron species. They’re most active at night or dusk, when you may see their ghostly forms flapping from daytime roosts to forage in wetlands.

During the day, adult black-crowned night herons are striking in grey-and-black plumage and long white-head plumes. They breed in colonies of stick nests, usually built in trees near water. Both parents incubate the eggs, and once the chick’s hatch, both parents feed them by regurgitation.

Black-crowned night herons are primarily coastal and most often forage along tidal creeks, pools, and mudflats. They feed on various prey, including fish, crustaceans, insects, and amphibians. They’re also known to eat small mammals, reptiles, and birds.


These birds are famous for their varied song, including imitations of other birds and even sounds from their environment. You might hear a mockingbird singing all day during nesting season and often all night as well.

Mockingbirds are slender-bodied grey birds that apparently pour all their colour into their personalities. They are known for their bold and confident behaviour and will flagrantly harass birds that intrude on their territories, flying slowly around them or even attacking them.

Mockingbirds are also known for their intelligence. They can recognize individual humans and often respond aggressively to those they perceive as a threat. They have been known to attack people who get too close to their nests or young.


If you live in North America, you’ve probably seen a killdeer bird before. These graceful plovers are common to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and parking lots. They are known for their tawny colour and distinctive red eyes.

One of the most interesting things about killdeers is their behaviour when it comes to protecting their nests. They often pretend to have a broken wing to lure predators away from their eggs or chicks. This clever tactic has been observed in many bird species, but killdeer are particularly good at it.

Killdeer are also known for their distinctive call, which sounds like “killdeer, killdeer.” This call is often heard at night, as killdeer are nocturnal flyers. They are also known to be active during the day, so you may see them running across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt every so often to check their progress or to see if they’ve startled up any insect prey.

These birds are omnivorous, meaning they eat both insects and seeds. They feed on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, fly larvae, and many others. They also eat spiders, earthworms, centipedes, crayfish, snails, and small amounts of seeds.


Petrels are fascinating seabirds that belong to four different families in the order Procellariiformes. They are known for their tubular nostrils, which help them to navigate through the open ocean. Petrels are also among the few birds that fly at night.

These birds are adapted to live at sea and spend most of their time hunting for fish and other marine creatures. They have a keen sense of smell, which helps them to locate food in the vast ocean. Petrels are also known for their long wingspan, allowing them to fly long distances easily.

One of the most interesting things about petrels is their breeding habits. Most species only return to land to breed, primarily on coasts and on small, isolated islands. During the breeding season, petrels gather in large colonies and engage in elaborate courtship displays.

Petrels are also known for their unique vocalizations. They use a variety of calls and songs to communicate with each other, both on land and at sea. Some species of petrels can even produce a low-frequency hum that can be heard underwater.

Yellow Warbler

This bird is a widely distributed warbler, nesting from the Arctic Circle to Mexico, with closely related forms along tropical coastlines.

Yellow warblers are around 4.5 inches long and are bright yellow birds. They are also nocturnal flyers when they migrate in spring and fall. This is common among birds wanting to avoid predators, such as hawks.

The Yellow Warbler’s diet consists mainly of insects, and is known to eat fruits and seeds. These birds are also known to be monogamous, meaning they mate for life.

Tawny Frogmouth

If you’re looking for a unique bird that flies at night, the tawny frogmouth is one to watch. These medium-sized birds are part of the nightjar family and are known for their long wings, stout bills, and short legs.

The tawny frogmouth is often mistaken for an owl, but it’s important to note that they are not owls. One of the most interesting things about tawny frogmouths is their ability to camouflage themselves. They have a mottled brown and grey plumage that helps them blend in with tree bark, making them difficult to spot during the day.

They also have a unique posture where they sit upright on tree branches, which makes them look like a broken branch or a knot on the tree.

Tawny frogmouths are found in Australia, where they are a common sight in urban areas and gardens. They feed on insects, small mammals, reptiles, and birds. They are also known to eat small snakes, which they swallow whole.

Regarding breeding, tawny frogmouths are monogamous and typically mate for life. They lay their eggs on a flat surface, such as a tree branch or stump, and the male and female take turns incubating the eggs. Once the chick’s hatch, both parents take care of them until they are ready to leave the nest.

Alder Flycatcher

If you are interested in birds that fly at night, you might be curious about the alder flycatcher. This small bird spends its summer catching flying insects in northern thickets. It is part of the Tyrant Flycatcher family, including the willow flycatcher and the least flycatcher.

The alder flycatcher and the willow flycatcher are so similar to each other that they were considered one species until the 1970s. The only differences apparent in the field are in their voices. The Alder Flycatcher has a distinctive “fitz-bew” call, while the Willow Flycatcher has a “fitz-bew” call with a descending pitch.

The alder flycatcher is a migratory bird that breeds in the northern parts of North America and winters in Central and South America. It is a small bird, measuring about 5.5 inches in length, with a wingspan of about 8.5 inches. It has olive-green upperparts, a white breast, and a yellowish throat.


If you’re looking for a bird that sings at night, the nightingale is one of the most famous. This small passerine bird is best known for its powerful and beautiful song. Nightingales are found in Europe, Asia, and Africa and are known for their distinctive singing voice.

Nightingales are often considered a symbol of love and romance, and their song has been the inspiration for many poems, songs, and stories. In fact, the nightingale’s song is so beautiful that it was once believed to have magical powers.

Nightingales are known for their ability to sing with incredible clarity and range. They have a repertoire of over 200 different songs and can sing for hours on end. Their song is made up of a series of notes that are repeated over and over again and can be heard from up to 600 meters away.

Despite their beautiful singing voice, nightingales are actually quite shy birds. They are more often heard than seen and prefer to stay hidden in dense vegetation. Nightingales are also known for their incredible migratory abilities and can travel up to 6,000 miles during their annual migration.