Are your local birds singing through the night? Here’s a list of the likely culprits

By eNature


Is something (or someone) keeping you awake these spring nights?  Waking you up before sunrise?

Many questions come to eNature about night birds calling and other weird and incessant noises in the dark.  It seems that there’s a lot of activity taking place when most of us expect our birds to be resting.

So what’s going on?  And who’s making all that noise in the dark?

Depending on the kinds of calls, and you location in North America, they could be any of at least four bird species.


Whip-poor-wills and their relatives are famous for calling their names, over and over again, sometime into the thousands of times without stopping. Unless you like to fall to sleep to the call of the whip-poor-will, it can become annoying.


Northern Mockingbirds are well known night callers, especially if there is a full moon. Enthusiastic mockingbirds can stay up ALL night, mimicking every bird song in the book as well as other sounds such bells, whistles, and sirens. These are birds that can try the patience of the most committed bird-lover!

Black_crowned Night Heron

If the call is coming from a wetland, it is probably one of the two night-herons, the Black-crowned or Yellow-crowned. They make squawks and cackles, and sometimes scary noises that will wake the heaviest sleeper.


Owls make another kind of noise in the night, which can range from the hooting of great horned owls to the whinnyings of screech-owls.

All of these birds are protected by state and federal laws, and nothing can or should be done to disturb them, not matter how annoying they are. The best solution is to either enjoy them, or to put plugs in your ears.

This advice may not help you get through the day at work..  but most of us prefer to think of those late night sounds as the glorious sound of spring.

Are you hearing your local birds’ and their squawks, chirps or cackles in the night?

We always love to hear your stories!

To listen to these bird calls and many others, please visit the Birding Audio feature. »

And be sure to use the Local Guides to find out which birds are in your neighborhood »