Have you heard the sound of birds come evening? While most species are content singing during the day, several species of birds are more content vocalizing at night.
It should come as no surprise that the most common nighttime bird sounds come from the owl family. While the large Great Horned Owl is most vocal on cold winter nights, the smaller Eastern Screech Owl can be heard giving its distinctive whinnying call throughout the summer.
Content nesting in backyards and woodlots, these cavity nesters can be very easy to locate as soon as one recognizes their call.Though it is a bit late this season, you can lure Eastern Screech Owls to your yard by placing an appropriately large nest box high in a secluded tree.
Another common nighttime bird sound is the incessant song of the Northern Mockingbird.This stereotypical Southern bird is quite abundant in our area, and has no problem singing all day and all night.
The mockingbird gets its name from its ability to incorporate with surprising accuracy other birds’ songs into its own repertoire. One can often hear a mockingbird singing loudly its repetitive song in the bright light of a full moon as if it were broad daylight. When not singing, mockingbirds can be identified by the stark white coloration on the wings and tail, which are usually flashed when hunting for insects.
The mockingbird is very comfortable living around humans, and generally avoids denser woodland in favor of yards, fields, and gardens. Much like its close relative the Gray Catbird, it frequently allows close approach and can become quickly accustomed to people.
On your next evening walk around the block, keep your ears wide open for the distinctive and enchanting songs of these two common nocturnal birds.
William Haffey is currently a seminarian for the Diocese of Bridgeport, and has a background in avian ecology and has birded extensively in the United States and Latin America.