how to stop birds chirping at night

How to Stop Birds Chirping at Night: Read This First

What to do about a bird that sings all night long? If you’ve ever tried to sleep through birds chirping at night, you can extremely frustrating. So do you know how to stop birds from chirping at night?

The best ways to stop birds from chirping at night are to either protect yourself from the sound by using a white noise machine or extra insulation or to scare the birds away. We find investing in a white noise machine to be the most effective way to cover up the sound birds make at night.

Let’s learn more about how to stop birds from chirping at night!

White Noise

If your partner’s snoring isn’t loud enough, there are a few mobile phone apps that provide white noise. Mockingbirds generally cause disturbances in spring and summer. At this time of year, you may already be using a fan or climate control. A fan can work to drown out all but the most intrusive noises. 

The range of sounds from an app, and a variable volume, gives far more control than a fan’s noise. At the same time, a white noise app would most often be used to provide a calming background soundtrack. In addition to drowning out the harsh calls, these sounds can actually serve a dual purpose. 

Deterrent Sounds

There have been reported successes using the sound of a steam locomotive to deter Mockingbirds. A steam engine’s rhythmic noise is not dissimilar to the whooshing sound of a bird’s wing beats. 

A wing flap could be the only forewarning of an attacking owl in the darkness. It is understandable that nocturnal Mockingbirds would be sensitive to sounds in this frequency range.

Some suggested using a natural predator recording, such as the Red-Tailed Hawk, could deter the birds. But, as if to add insult to a lousy night’s sleep, the cheeky birds mockingly adopted their natural enemies’ call.

The Mockingbirds may realize that the Red-Tailed Hawk is a daytime predator. Therefore using its call as a nighttime deterrent is unsuccessful. On the other hand, the Mockingbird in question may never have come into contact with a Red-Tailed Hawk. In this case, it is likely that a Mockingbird would not know to associate the call with danger.

Bird Netting

Bird netting is used to protect fruit trees from birds that can decimate agricultural crops. It can be used at home too and could help with bird-induced insomnia. Netting must be used in advance of the mating season before the birds start nesting. It must also be checked every morning and evening for any small birds that have gotten caught up. 

If a mockingbird is causing the problem and you cover his favorite tree, he is likely to just move to your rooftop. 

Why Do Birds Sing at Night?

Some birds are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night. There are not many nocturnal songbirds, but there are some reasons diurnal birds may sing during the night too. Just like humans might cry out when startled from a deep sleep, birds are no different. 

Author Note: A loud noise, or vibration, such as a truck passing a bird’s nesting tree, could startle a bird awake. When woken in this manner, a bird will often sing out a warning or territorial song. It can take some time for the bird to fall asleep again. Thus the singing may continue for a few minutes.

Birds are very susceptible to light, especially songbirds who sing with the rising and setting sun. In an urban environment, the constant bustle and activity, coupled with an ambient streetlight, can affect birds’ sleeping habits. 

Both American and European Robins are often found singing throughout the night in cities. They have been confused by the electric lights of the city. In addition to this, there is another theory for why urban diurnal birds sing more often at night.

Birds and City Noise

Cities are noisy and busy at all times, but the noise and activity are much more prominent during the day. Urban songbirds are less likely to be heard by a potential mate during the day. It is believed that diurnal birds are adopting later hours, so there is less background noise. 

Songbirds’ brains actually change depending on the season. In the spring, the part of a bird’s brain that deals with communication enlarges. This is to recognize and remember the varied songs that draw mating pairs together.

Humans need a few uninterrupted hours of REM pattern sleep before they are adequately rested. Migratory birds can sleep uni-hemispherically in SWS (slow-wave sleep). So half the brain sleeps, while the other half keeps an eye open. In addition, birds can catch a few seconds of REM sleep while remaining in the air. It is probable that other bird species are not as reliant as us humans on long REM pattern sleep periods.

What Birds Sing at Night?

Colorful parakeet birds in the twilight

In the case of “Who caused the all-night disturbance?” Mockingbirds are the usual suspects. Lonely males sing beautiful and varied melodies hoping to entice a mate. They can be relentless too. Returning for the mating season to the same rooftop, sometimes for years, before he finds his perfect female. 

Mockingbirds learn songs from their parents but also copy other sounds that they hear, hence their name. The assortment of melodies a rural mockingbird sings can be a relaxing lullaby, but urban birds adopt a different repertoire. When you have to be up for work, and the bird is imitating your car alarm, the tune is not so enchanting. 

Mockingbirds are protected under the migratory bird treaty act,’ and as such, it is illegal to harass them.

Other Birds That Sing at Night

American Robin

The American robin can be another midnight caller, despite being a diurnal bird. The American robin is often seen at all times of night due to an urban setting’s streetlights. The males call to attract a female in springtime but can continue to sing throughout the year. 

Author Note: Robins stay close to their home range year-round. If you continue hearing birdsong through fall and into winter, you probably have a permanent resident.

Eastern Whip-Poor-Will

Another bird that enjoys singing late into the evening is the Eastern Whip-Poor-Will. This nocturnal member of the nightjar family relies on brown camouflage to hide during the day. Whip-poor-wills repeat their characteristic song every several minutes and can continue all night. 

Hermit Thrush

The Hermit Thrush has a white breast with a speckled reddish-brown neck and flight feathers. It sings late into the night and is one of the earliest to add its voice to the dawn chorus. In spring and fall, these birds sing so late into the evening and start very early. It can seem like the darkness passed instantly, hearing the same song as you wake up.

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Sleeping time for the Barn owl

The Black-Crowned Night Heron is found in wetland areas and has a raspy croaking call. The call of this Heron is recognized by birders worldwide as this bird is found on every major continent. The black crown of the Heron is easily spotted against the contrast of its white face. 

Author Note: The Black-Crowned Night Heron has quite a cute face. Its cheeks are reminiscent of a marsupial with a mouth full of nuts. The light blue-gray wingtips and the dark blue-gray flight feathers make this a very attractive bird.

Yellow-Breasted Chat

We all know people who talk incessantly. Birders familiar with the Yellow-Breasted Chat know that it is not just people who suffer from verbal diarrhea. Not only can these birds chat the entire way through a movie. They can sing all night long as they try to attract a mate in the springtime.  

Killdeer

Killdeers are shorebirds that sing a chattering tune at almost any time of day or year. They are migratory birds that sing while flying to maintain contact with the flock. Killdeers sing at any time of the day or night, but their song is most frequently heard around their natural habitat. 

Black Rail

Black Rails are another shorebird that is found in the southeast of the country. The song of the Black Rail is common on the Texas coast and wetlands. These small dark birds are much easier to hear than to see. Black Rails are small, shy birds that prefer running and wading through their habitat to flying above it. 

As with many shorebirds, the Black Rail has not been having an easy time recently. Coastal or waterfront property is often double the price to comparable housing away from the water’s edge. Due to this, many of the natural habitats that are relied upon by shorebirds are being destroyed.  The species was recategorized from threatened to endangered in 2012 in New Jersey.

Northern Territories

A pair of Hooded Pittas (Pitta sordida) roosting on a branch

In summer, the northern states experience very short nights. Sometimes it can feel as if the birdsong at dusk can continue into the dawn chorus without even stopping. If you have shrubbery or small trees close to the house, that could be a draw for these seemingly nocturnal songbirds. Covering these with bird netting could help. 

Outside Lights

Many urban birds are affected by the streetlights that brighten our towns and cities through the night.   

In a suburban yard, it is possible that you could be adding to the problem unwittingly. If you have lights on in your garden during the night, it could confuse birds affecting the times they sing. Birds are very sensitive to light, and garden lights can result in extended dawn and dusk choruses.

Conclusion

There are a number of birds that may interrupt your beauty sleep, but the most likely culprit is the Mockingbird. It may not be easy to identify him while he imitates other birds and sounds. Mockingbirds will generally sing for 2 or 3 months in Spring and Summer. This period will be shorter if he does successfully attract a mate. 

Their songs can be loud and irritating, and he may return year after year to deny your sleep. If you cannot learn to love his songs, play him one of your favorites, he might just learn it. We hope you enjoyed this article on how to stop birds chirping at night.

Fly high friends!

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