When birds sing at night, they are usually nocturnal singers. This does not only include songbirds, as you can see from the following list of nocturnal birds.

Feldschwirl (Locustella naevia)

  • Size: 12 to 12.5 centimeters long
  • Color: olive brown striped top; yellow-whitish underside; red-brown legs
  • favorite places to stay: open landscape areas; wet meadows, swamps and moors; Riverbank; pagans
  • Song: “sirrrr” similar to grasshoppers
  • Special features: protected bird species because it is threatened with extinction; sing day and night; prefers ground contact and fewer flights

Gartenrotschwanz (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)

  • Size: 13 to 14.5 centimeters long
  • Colour: black throat and beak; gray neck and head area; orange-red chest; white belly; white feather stripes over eyes; Females less contrasting with beige, reddish-brown coloring
  • preferred places to stay: parks and gardens; light deciduous forests
  • Singing: begins high-pitched fluting, melodic; followed by short, raspy syllable repeats two to four times; finally longer trilling, fluting, partly scratching, splashing sounds
  • Special features: insect, larvae and berry eaters; migratory birds; breeds in (semi) caves
Note: When nocturnal singers are migrating, they sometimes startle diurnal birds of all species from their sleep. ‘Scolding chatter’, warning sounds and chirping communication with conspecifics are then a normal response to the birds singing at night.

Lerchen (Alaudidae)

  • Size: 14 to 19 centimeters long
  • Color: species-dependent; predominantly brownish; males usually larger
  • preferred places to stay: open landscape areas
  • Vocals: rolling; “prriit” or “prrli”; imitates other bird songs
  • Special features: Insect and grain eaters; over 90 different species; actually diurnal, nocturnal only in bright/illuminated areas; Short-distance migratory birds with flight song

Nachtigall (Luscinia megarhynchos)

  • Size: about 16.5 centimeters long
  • Color: Plumage-top reddish-brown; chestnut uppertail; white to pale grey-brown underside
  • Preferred habitats: in dense bushes, at the edges of forests, in wet areas
  • singing: various; single- and double-tone stanzas with trilling, chirping, or fluting sounds in close succession; high and low pitches; sometimes quiet, sometimes loud
  • Special features: only “true” Nightsinger; ground-hopping locomotion with raised tail; unmated males sing at night from mid-May; Singing early in the morning at dusk to protect the territory

Nachtreiher (Nycticorax nycticorax)

  • Size: up to 65.5 centimeters long
  • Colour: grayish white; skull, neck and back black; thin decorative white feathers on the back of the head; gray wings, yellow legs, dark beak
  • preferred habitats: wetlands; near bodies of water of any kind; likes in reeds and trees
  • Vocals: rough-toned, loud “quoakkk”
  • Special features: active at dusk and at night; also forages during the day during the breeding season; plunders nests of songbirds, among other things

Schleiereule (These albums)

  • Size: between 30 and 35 centimeters
  • Colour: light brown wing and tail plumage with black dots; white, light beige body; white heart shaped face
  • preferred locations: agricultural areas near villages and towns
  • Singing: similar to loud screeches
  • Special features: is up to 15 years old; carnivore; site-loyal; no typical spring ears
Note: Owl-birds do not count among the ‘classical’ songbirds. But since their calls go through the night, they still belong to the category of night singers.

Sumpfrohrsänger (Acrocephalus palustris)

  • Size: about 13 centimeters long
  • Colour: light brown on crown, neck and back; wings and shoulders brown; juveniles reddish brown; white throat; yellowish-white chest area
  • preferred places of residence: dense reeds , in bushes, on grain-cultivated areas near water sources
  • Song: imitates other bird calls; lively talkative; whirring, rough sounds
  • Special features: migratory bird; Song distinguishes it from twin species “Reed Warbler”

Uhu (Bubo bubo)

  • Size: up to 75 centimeters
  • Colour: various shades of brown with darker markings; light “V” marking on forehead; large orange-red eyes; dark beak
  • preferred locations: gravel pits, forests, quarries, mountain ranges, less often in urban areas
  • Song: territory calls from autumn until the following year (new brood); courtship calls from February; sounds like “bu-hoo” “u-huu”; hoarse “chriää” and loud “gräck”
  • Distinctive features: females are smaller and heavier than males; large feather ears; heavily feathered legs; often breed in buildings

Waldkauz (Strix aluco)

  • Size: about 40 centimeters
  • Colour: yellow-brownish; brown-black eyes; brown beak
  • preferred locations: open areas with trees such as sparse forests; possibly buildings
  • Song: territory calls from autumn until the following year (new brood); courtship calls from February; typical sound “bu-bu-buuu-buu-buh”
  • Special Features: Cave Breeders; females smaller and heavier than males; threatened with extinction; equally active at dusk and at night

Waldohreule (Asio otus)

  • Size: between 30 and 40 centimeters
  • Color: light, yellowish-brown; dark longitudinal and thinner transverse stripes on abdomen; grey-brown marbled/mottled wings and back; bright yellow pupil border
  • preferred locations: open landscapes with low stature or bare areas; meadow landscapes; bog areas; graveyards
  • Vocals: dark, pleasant, quiet; Lure and territory calls: clear, repeated “huhh” every two to eight seconds
  • Special features: Age up to 30 years; triangular shaped feather ears; crepuscular and nocturnal; long feather ears; Risk of confusion with tawny owl

Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)

  • Size: between 24 and 28 centimeters
  • Colour: Gray-brown, banded, spotted, mottled plumage; lighter cheeks; bright, cross-banded underside
  • Preferred habitats: open, dry and warm landscapes
  • Song: purring, rattling calls; Courtship call: long “örrrörrr-örrr”
  • Special features: belongs to the migratory birds; particularly active nocturnal singers during twilight; Hidden/camouflaged on branches and densely overgrown ground during the day

frequently asked Questions

The so-called “city birds”. These include, above all, the blackbird, thrush, tit, sparrow and swift. They are no more nocturnal songbirds than the larks. It’s the bright light from street lamps, garden lights and spotlights at events that keeps city birds from sleeping. This turns night into day for them, which they spend flying around and singing. A full moon can also brighten up the area considerably.

Between September and November, many birds migrate south to warmer areas. These include geese, ducks, gulls and blackbirds. These are diurnal but prefer to fly at night because it is cooler for “sweaty” flights. Their singing or their calls are mainly used for communication with each other. This can be heard at night as they gather, take off and fly over areas.

Only those that don’t migrate away for wintering. If they are not classic songbirds, you will mainly hear calls to protect their territory during the winter months. Courtship and mating calls usually begin in February at the earliest. City birds can also sing in winter when they are in heavily lit areas.

No. Nocturnal activity is unnatural for all birds, which belong to the diurnal species, and is therefore unhealthy. They lack the night’s sleep in which they have to generate energy. Lack of sleep makes them weak, susceptible to disease, and easy prey for their predators. You should always bear this in mind if you leave lights on outdoors at night.

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