About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What birds see at night

Where do the birds go at night? Can they see in the dark? ~ Baldwin Place, New York

As the sun goes down, the activity at our birdfeeders comes to an abrupt halt. Some birds head for a perch in leafy bushes, evergreens, vines or dense brush piles for the night. Starlings and pigeons can roost under bridges. Ducks often sleep while floating. Woodpeckers can hook their claws into tree bark or retreat into holes to sleep. Chickadees and titmice also roost in tree holes, bird houses or roosting pockets for safety and warmth.

At this time of year other birds may be preparing to fly through the night to their warmer wintering grounds. The numbers and variety of birds appearing in your yard can actually change every morning as species such as warblers, vireos, orioles, grosbeaks, tanagers, buntings and sparrows all migrate south.

Vision is an important sense that helps birds fly safe. This is why most birds are only active during the day. However many species migrate at night to avoid the heat of the day, windy conditions, and predators.

Scientist are still trying to understand how birds are able to perceive not only the visible range but also the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, and their other adaptations that allow for the detection of polarized light or magnetic fields. Even with specific modifications to their visual system to help them migrate at night, they often collide with brightly lit man made objects like skyscrapers, lighthouses or oil platforms.

The migration of the most birds are made up of a series of long nocturnal flights alternated with days of rest and feeding in favorable rest stops. And if they choose your yard to stop over, hopefully you’ll have fresh water, food, and shelter to make their journey a little easier.

Related Articles:
- How do Birds Migrate? http://bit.ly/nNCI6d   
- Migration vs. Hibernation http://bit.ly/n0z040
- What birds migrate from Michigan? http://bit.ly/qa0CVU
- Solving the Mysteries of Migration with Wind Tunnels http://bit.ly/qg0F53
- How many birds would you say die or get injured during migration? http://bit.ly/r5o3NQ

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