MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Why do non-nocturnal birds sometimes sing at night?

Date: Tue Aug 24 10:56:34 1999
Posted By: Steven Williams, Staff, Special Education, none
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 935460076.Zo


Many species of birds use their songs to attract perspective mates.   The 
instinctual drive to this end sometimes overrides the usual night/day 
agenda. Early June, the time you observed this, is the onset of mating 
season for several birds. 

Typically, in order to get a jump on the competition, a bird will sing from 
the crack of dawn well into twilight.  But if the moon is shining or there 
is a nearby street lamp, some birds (in particular, the Mockingbird) will 
sing all night long.  Mockers also use their songs to mark territory.  

Mockingbirds imitate other birds. and can have a repertoire that includes 
dozens of calls. Their uncanny recreation of songs often include Robins, 
Jays, Gulls, Sparrows, and sometimes even the squeal of car brakes.  I 
would hazard a guess that many, if not all, of the calls you were hearing were 
being generated by Mockers. 

To learn more about Mockingbirds, follow this link:

As the season progresses and the birds get down to the business of raising 
young, the night songs subside and we can all finally get some sleep 
without closing the windows.   

I hope this helps to answer your question.

Steven Williams

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