Which birds fly at night | 7 birds with comprehensive guide

Which birds fly at night? Birds are known for their ability to fly during the day, whether it’s an orange chest bird or other, but many people wonder if they also fly at night.

The answer is yes; some birds do fly at night. These birds can navigate and hunt for food, even in the dark.

In this article, we will explore why birds fly at night and the adaptations they have that allow them to do so.

This article also provides a comprehensive guide to the most common birds that fly at night and the unique adaptations that allow them to do so.

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[|] Reasons Why Birds Fly at Night

There are a few explanations for why birds take to the skies at night.

Many birds fly at night when they’re migrating to their winter homes as it’s cooler and there’s not as much wind, making it easier for them to fly. 

Other birds fly at night to steer clear of predators and look for food since many bugs and small animals come out at night


[|] 7 Types of Birds That Fly at Night

Which birds fly at night? Lots of different kinds of birds have become super good at flying in the dark. 

They can use the stars to navigate and get food even when it’s pitch black outside. Some of the most common night flyers and their special skills include:

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1. Owls


Owls are the most famous birds that soar in the dark.

Owls are the most well-known birds that fly at night. With their distinctive hoot, owls are often associated with mystery and magic.

But, did you know that not all owls fly at night? Some species are diurnal (active during the day), while others are nocturnal.

These birds have adaptations that make them well-suited for life in the dark.

Owls are known for their ability to hunt at night. They feed on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.

Some species of an owl will even hunt in open fields, using their keen eyesight to spot their prey from the air.

They have excellent vision and hearing, which allows them to hunt for prey even in the dark.

Owls possess big, front-facing eyes, enabling them to observe dimly lit settings. They can spin their heads up to 270 degrees to better view what’s around them.


2. Nightjars

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Nightjars are part of the Caprimulgidae family. Like owls, they’re birds that fly around in the dark.

These secretive birds can be found all over the globe and are famous for being so hard to spot. They have big eyes, short beaks, and lengthy wings – pretty cool, huh?

Their soft plumage helps them blend in with their surroundings, and they have long, narrow wings that allow them to fly at high speeds.

Nightjars have a unique call that sounds like the “chuck-will’s-widow” and are masters of the air, using their powerful wings to fly in complete silence.

They use their excellent eyesight and hearing to locate their prey in the dark.

Their peepers are huge, letting them see in dim light, plus they can also fly without a sound, which helps them nab their food without getting spotted.


3. Swifts


which birds fly at night?  A different type of bird that takes to the skies after dark is swift. 

These creatures are known for their lightning-fast speed and superior aerial maneuverability.

Swifts are found worldwide and are well adapted for life on the wing. Swifts are small birds that belong to the Apodidae family.

They have long, narrow wings that allow them to fly at high speeds, making them one of the fastest birds in the sky.

They have a streamlined body that helps reduce drag and can fly for hours without stopping.

They are migratory birds and fly thousands of miles every year.

They can fly at high speeds, even in low light conditions, and they feed on active insects at night.

Swifts have long, slender wings that let them zip through the sky quickly and efficiently, plus they have good eyesight that helps them spot prey in the dark.


4. Night Herons


Night herons are birds that belong to the Ardeidae family.

They are well adapted to fishing at night and have excellent vision, allowing them to see their prey even in the dark.

Night herons have long, sharp beaks that assist them in nabbing fish and other little aquatic critters.


5. Parakeets


Parakeets are birds that are native to tropical regions.

You can often spot them flying around in the dark, looking for something to eat. 

They’re recognizable because of their vibrant colors and the noises they make.

Parakeets have strong, sharp beaks that help them break open tough seeds and nuts, and they’re also pretty good fliers, able to fly around even in the dark.


6. Chimney Swifts


Which birds fly at night? Chimney swifts are birds that belong to the Apodidae family.

They’re famous for their speedy flight and skilled turns, and you can often spot them flying around at night looking for bugs to munch on.

Chimney swifts have short and round wings so they can fly fast and effectively, and their vision is great, which helps them spot their food even in the dark.




The American woodcock is a truly one-of-a-kind bird, famous for its night-flying abilities. You’ll spot these birds all over North America; they look and act differently from the rest.

They have short, round wings and long, straight bills and can fly short distances and perform aerial displays.

They have excellent eyesight and hearing, making them well-suited for life in the dark.

American woodcocks feed on insects and earthworms, which they locate with their excellent sense of hearing.

They use their long bills to probe the ground in search of food.

American woodcocks are known for putting on a pretty cool show at dusk and dawn – their aerial display.

During the show, the bird will soar into the sky and swoop back down to the ground, making a familiar “peent” sound.


[|] Detail of Unique Birds That Fly at Night

Night-flying birds have a few features that let them soar in the dark. These include:

  • Excellent Vision

Birds that fly at night have incredible eyesight, enabling them to keep their eyes peeled even in dim conditions. 

Vision is especially important for owls and nightjars that need to spot their prey in the dark.


  • Good Hearing

Birds that fly at night have great hearing, which helps them find their prey even in the dark. 

Finding prey in the dark is especially useful for owls who rely on their hearing to find food that isn’t visible.


  • Large Eyes

Lots of birds that take to the skies when it’s dark out have big peepers, which help them pick up as much light as they can. 

Big peepers are especially crucial for birds like nightjars and swifts since they need to be able to see clearly in dim conditions to go after their dinner.


  • Silent Flight

Certain birds, such as nightjars, can fly around without making a sound at night, which makes it easier for them to snag their dinner without alerting their prey. 

Flying without making a sound is especially essential for birds who go after insects since loud noise can easily scare them away.


  • Good Navigation

Birds that fly at night are really good at finding their way around even when it’s pitch black out. 

They mix their eyes, ears, and other senses to ensure they don’t crash into anything.


[|] Conclusion

Which birds fly at night? Nighttime birds are truly amazing! 

They have awesome eyesight, super hearing, and other special traits that allow them to hunt and find food in the dark.

Some birds you might see flying around at night are owls, nightjars, swifts, night herons, parakeets, chimney swifts, and American woodcocks.

Whether you are a bird watcher or just someone who appreciates nature, it is well worth learning more about these amazing creatures.

Certain birds take to the skies at night to migrate or dodge predators, while others fly around searching for insects or other nocturnal creatures to eat.

Thank you!


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[|] Are birds scared at night?

It’s not true that birds are scared of the dark. 

Some of them fly at night to avoid predators or get some grub, as there are plenty of bugs and critters around at night.

Other birds fly at night to go to their winter homes, as it’s cooler and there’s less wind, making it easier to fly. 

It all depends on the type of bird and its special features.


[|] Do all birds fly at night?

No, not all birds can take flight during the dark of night. Certain types of feathered friends can handle it, but others need to be cut out.

Owls and nightjars, for example, are active when the sun goes down. They have bigger peepers and special feathers that help them see and hunt dimly. 

On the other hand, songbirds are usually up during the day and hit the hay at night. 

It all depends on where a bird lives, what it does, and what it needs to stay alive to determine whether it can fly at night.

Dr. Asfand Yar is a distinguished ornithologist and wildlife biologist with a Ph.D. in Ornithology and an M.S. in Wildlife Biology. With over two decades of experience, he is a recognized authority in avian research, specializing in bird migration and conservation within the European Economic Area (EEA). Dr. Asfand extensive academic background and fieldwork have resulted in numerous publications, contributing significantly to the ornithological field.

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