Most birds chirp during daylight hours and sleep at night. However, it's not uncommon to hear a bird chirp in the middle of the night. Nightingales are often thought of when a bird sings at night, but the bird you hear chirping after dark may be a mockingbird, a whip-poor-will or an owl.
He Sings Late and Loud
The male nightingale sings long into the night. The beauty of the nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) is in his loud and melodious song, as he hits a variety of notes. Found in Europe and Asia, he's about 6.5 inches long and has a plain brown body with a buff colored underbelly and a reddish colored tail. The thrush nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) sings with short chirping notes, and sounds similar to a frog.
He Mimics Many Sounds
The northern mockingbird sings from February through November, day and night. Unmated males are often heard singing during the full moon. A slender gray bird, the northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is 8 to 10 inches long. His black wings each have two white bars and a bright white patch on them. Seen throughout North America, the mockingbird has a loud, shrill call and sings long, intricate melodies. He mimics many sounds, including those of other birds.
He's Seldom Seen
The whip-poor-will is most active around dusk and dawn. About 8 to 10 inches long, with a short beak and medium-long tail, his body is brown, black and gray speckled and he has a black throat. Well-camouflaged, the whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferous) is seldom seen, but he's often heard calling out his own name during the night. Found from central Canada to the Atlantic Coast, and south to Oklahoma and Georgia, he spends his winters in the southeastern United States and Central America.
He's Found Almost Everywhere
The owl is a nocturnal predator, flying at night in pursuit of insects, rodents, small mammals and other birds. He may hoot, screech, chirp, trill or whistle. Found throughout the world, except in Antarctica, there are more than 150 species of owls in a variety of colors and sizes. The owl has a round face with large eyes and a hooked beak. Some owls have feather tufts, resembling ears, on top of their heads.
Karen Mihaylo has been a writer since 2009. She has been a professional dog groomer since 1982 and is certified in canine massage therapy. Mihaylo holds an associate degree in human services from Delaware Technical and Community College.