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everquesterinman

Night singing birds in tennessee.

32 posts in this topic

I have lives in East tennessee all my life. and have worked the graveyard shift (1030pm-7am) for the last 17 years. In those past years I have found it more helpedful and healthy to just stay on my work shcedule even on my days off. So being that I live mostly in a world of silence and darkness you tend to see and hear alot of strange things most folks during the day will never witness. One such thing has just started happening this summer and I was wondering if aynone here could help me understand it. At different times during my nights up at home you might find me on my front pourch. I usually find this very relaxing because of the almost DEAD like "pin drop" silence you experiance in the area i live in. BUT this summer for some reason anytime i go out there pass midnight...be it 1am...3am...5am...2am...The birds are singing away like it dawn or midday?? and i dont mean a churp here and there or an owl...I mean LOTS of birds singing. Now dont get me wrong. It is reather peaceful BUT to me unusual. I hate to seem stupid but is this normal behavior for birds in this area? (or any other for that matter). To me these sound like red birds blue birds canary type maybe even some swallows? birds I didnt think were Nocturnal? I must head back into work this evening but i can record them and place them on here on a video if that will help. Just let me know what you think? Thanks

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The only explanation I can give is that the birds start singing in the middle of the night because of the artificial light all around them.

Maybe they do it already when only one lamp post is shining it's light on them, I don't know.

It may be that after many years of artificial lighting the birds have finally adjusted to it, and changed their diurnal rhytm.

I have noticed the same here, in Holland, btw, but I live in a city.

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From what I understand this has been happening in quite a few cities in quite a few countries.. It seems that the birds cannot hear each other due to noise, so at night when all is quiet they tend to sing and mate to each other. They wait till all is peaceful and then do their communication. I would love to hear them singing at night, they would lull me to sleep... :)

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From what I understand this has been happening in quite a few cities in quite a few countries.. It seems that the birds cannot hear each other due to noise, so at night when all is quiet they tend to sing and mate to each other. They wait till all is peaceful and then do their communication. I would love to hear them singing at night, they would lull me to sleep... :)

I was going to go with the typical, "Maybe its mating season...", thing, but this is way cooler. I have never thought of something like that. If it were the occassional chirp, I would have said maybe bats, since I used to have them all around my house, but it was stated that it was full songs. I'm going to have to go outside at night now and see if I can hear them around here.

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:huh: This happened to me at a home is used to live in around the mid eighties. I had already lived there for about 10 years when it started. I thought maybe they were Nightingales. Although I don't know if those birds are named that because they sing at night. I actually had some really strange bird stuff going on there, come to think of it. Once, I was home alone during the day and feeling depressed, when all of a sudden, my entire porch railing was covered in black birds, shrieking like some kind of devils for all they were worth! My railing was at least 12' long and it was covered in those blasted birds. They stayed for half an hour. I was really wigged out by them. It never happened any other time. And on two different occasions, I had a gorgeous small hawk land on my lawn at the base of one of my trees. It just stayed there for about 10 minutes, looking at me as I sat on my porch. I still wonder about that.

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Street light has a lot to answer for in regards to birds being out at night. Screws up the circadian rhythm.

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It's funny that you mention that. My husband and I live in Tennessee and have noticed the same thing...it is unusual. In the spring we always have the windows open at night and this spring they have been so noisy that we started closing the windows. Now that the cicadus (catydids as we call them) have started chirping at night the birds have quieted down. *shrugs*

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Posted (edited)

Hmmmm.... It's past mating season for all intents and purpose. And most bird species mate in the daylight hours anyway.

The only logical explanation I can come up with is that there is an increase of predators in the area which is causing them to call out to each other in the nighttime hours. By in large, birds roost and sleep at night with a few exceptions like owls.

Even in places like Alaska where it's light all summer, birds still roost and sleep at night mostly. So I don't think it's the light from cities etc... although I suppose it's possible, just not very probable.

I dunno, odd for sure, but I'm placing my bet on an increase in predators in the area.

There are no Nightingales in North America... they're migratory through Europe, Asia and Africa. And yes, they do sing at night and during the day. (on every other forum I belong to my screenname is usually Nightingale :) )

The Crazy Bird Lady of UM.. MissMelsWell :P

Edited by MissMelsWell

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Hmmmm.... It's past mating season for all intents and purpose. And most bird species mate in the daylight hours anyway.

The only logical explanation I can come up with is that there is an increase of predators in the area which is causing them to call out to each other in the nighttime hours. By in large, birds roost and sleep at night with a few exceptions like owls.

Even in places like Alaska where it's light all summer, birds still roost and sleep at night mostly. So I don't think it's the light from cities etc... although I suppose it's possible, just not very probable.

I dunno, odd for sure, but I'm placing my bet on an increase in predators in the area.

Street lighting, which is a well known cause and has been observed in many song birds.

With human activity you would actually most likely have a decrease in predator activity in both day and night.

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Street lighting, which is a well known cause and has been observed in many song birds.

With human activity you would actually most likely have a decrease in predator activity in both day and night.

We've lived in the same neighborhood for more than twenty years and there are no more street lights than there has ever been.

Predators are a more likely explanation. My neighbors have been complaining about all of the feral cats infesting the area. We have humanely trapped eight in our yard so far this year.

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Posted (edited)

We've lived in the same neighborhood for more than twenty years and there are no more street lights than there has ever been.

Predators are a more likely explanation. My neighbors have been complaining about all of the feral cats infesting the area. We have humanely trapped eight in our yard so far this year.

The change in lights doesn't matter it has been seen all over the world.

Cats have been there longer than the street lights too and they have never forced diurnal birds into nocturnal habits. Street lighting has been established to do this however.

Also being about a night would make the birds become targeted by the cats more often,

Edited by Mattshark

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The change in lights doesn't matter it has been seen all over the world.

Cats have been there longer than the street lights too and they have never forced diurnal birds into nocturnal habits. Street lighting has been established to do this however.

Also being about a night would make the birds become targeted by the cats more often,

Well, I know better than to argue with you because you'll claim to be right until the cows come home. :D

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The thing is folks this is going on every where in East Tennessee (where i live) Let take the smokey mountains where me and my wife take drives very often in the middle of the night where there is nothign but moonlight and stars and still they SING ! as stated before i have lived in this area my whole life and this IS the first year this has happen. I just find it strange. and COOL ! look for my post because i will be placing the activity on this site in the form of a video this up coming weekend. and i will make sure to include serveral different areas of east tennessee not just my houses area.

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I hear birds singing at strange hours at my house, too (I'm in Virginia, your neighbor). My great grandmother had a mockingbird that always sat outside her bedroom window and sang at odd hours of the night. I hear birds up at all hours (hours that I shouldn't be up ;) ). Mattshark hit the nail on the head when he said screwed up circadian rhythms.

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Posted (edited)

Well, I know better than to argue with you because you'll claim to be right until the cows come home. :D

:P I'm not just arguing for the sake off, I got do a whole course on this during my degree.

everquesterinman: The birds will move about though and lights elsewhere could be affecting (or you are hearing nocturnal birds)

Edited by Mattshark

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I was going to go with the typical, "Maybe its mating season...", thing, but this is way cooler. I have never thought of something like that. If it were the occassional chirp, I would have said maybe bats, since I used to have them all around my house, but it was stated that it was full songs. I'm going to have to go outside at night now and see if I can hear them around here.

Unless your hearing is entirely more acute than my own, one doesn't hear bats "chirping." In fact, bat's vocalizations are beyond human hearing parameters.

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Ya, but birds still sleep in places well north where the sun doesn't set at night like Alaska. It can be rather eerie to be up at 2am, it's still light, and no birds chirping, they're roosting.

After raising tropical birds for many years and living next door to a national bird preserve (mostly for blue herons, but other birds were protected there as well) we only heard those birds chirping or even screaming at night when the owls would fly in and disturb them or when the fox and coyotes were making pests of themselves. The birds would twitter all night long. At times, the owls would attack the herons at night and the cacaphony late at night was unbareable. 60 blue herons screaming at a barn owl is a VERY unpleasant sound. LOL. But there was no question that the song birds would twitter endlessly when predators creeped into the area. When there were no predators, all was quiet over night. For three years, there was basically nothing for me to do out there except watch the rookery next door and tend to my parrots at my house.

My parrots would on occasion would sleep with the full spectrum lights on because I'd forget to turn them off. Not a sound out of them. There was only twice when they made noise at night... once before an earthquake and another time when a rat got into the aviary. Even with the lights on all night, they were typically quiet.

I'm still betting on predators.

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Now that the cicadus (catydids as we call them) have started chirping at night the birds have quieted down. *shrugs*

The cicadas haven't started their chorus yet, here in eastern Nebraska. Locally, growing up, they were (incorrectly) known as "locusts." Still, I know they're cicadas. Katydids are very different, a rather greenish, grasshopper-like insect. (Google the cover art of Steely Dan's Katy Lied album.) Not saying that's not what you folks know cicadas as, there in your area.

linked-image

Katydid

linked-image

Cicada

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Posted (edited)

Folks LISTEN.....THESE are birds OK. I mean I am NO bird expert by no means I know robins, red bird, blue bird sparrows, and raven and thats about it. By the way I have stood under 2 huge tress in my yard looking up at these birds singing. Hundreds of them in one tree with nothing around in sight. And as stated before you can drive anywhere in the town I live in (or surrounding counties) and hear alot of the same thing....and it let me say this too. I have been out at 8pm...its not happening....10pm nope still not happening....11pm....nope try again...this is only happening during the hours of midnight to 6am. As the sun comes up in my home if you are standing in the living room its like someone has taken a HUGE spot light and pointed it right through my home. Once the sun comes up the birds singing tappers off and about an hour later it is dead silence.

Edited by everquesterinman

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That actually makes perfect sense... it's light until nearly 10pm this time of year, the nocternal hunters don't really come out until after midnight. If you have increased rat activity, owls, cats, maybe even cicadas, and even yourself... they may start to twitter at each other. In some cases, there are still parent birds with young in the nest this time of year, although most should have fledged by now, but a few may have double clutched. Most song birds start their roosting process around 6pm I've noticed. They're usually settled in by 8pm even thought it's still light out.

My parrots and the rookery would get REALLY loud between 5pm and 6:30pm "calling their flock home to roost" I used to make a point to take a walk at around 5pm so I didn't have to listen to my parrots and the herons go BONKERS around that time. LOL By 7pm, usually all was quiet. If they started up again, it would be around midnight when the nocternals would start their night creeps. By pre-dawn, the predators are gone and the birds are quiet again.

You might think about calling the local Audubon Society and see what they have to say too (or email them! Some are very responsive to email)... they can be a HUGE help with things like this. And they're typically more than happy to help you figure it out. It would be interesting to hear what their opinion is too.. I'd love to know what they think.

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Posted (edited)

Unless your hearing is entirely more acute than my own, one doesn't hear bats "chirping." In fact, bat's vocalizations are beyond human hearing parameters.

Bat's vocalizations are not completely out of the range for human hearing, yes most people can't hear them, but that doesn't mean all cannot hear them. I can. My hearing may be better than yours, you probably have a sense thats better than mine. So in fact, I can hear bats chirping.

A bat uses high frequency sounds, inaudible for most human beings (typically 20kHz- 200kHz whereas a human can only hear up to approximately 20kHz). It looks like the frequencies within our thresholds overlap, so I don't think its entirely out of the question.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing_range

Edited by TheLivingDead

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I'm no expert on birds but I did have one sing at night once. I remember it was one or two in the morning when I woke up and heard it.

I liked it though. It was reassuring - like the bluebird of happiness. Haven't heard it for a few months, sad.

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I am no expert on birds but NOne of your explanations make sence.

1) Street lights have been around for a long time, since 1897. Why now would its affects on the birds take hold, even in rural areas?

2)This is not just happening in one area so how could there be an increase in preditors all over the nation, and if what "goalienan" said is true, in severeal contries?

I also live in tennessee, and I can say this is the first time this has ever happened anywhere that i have lived. I live in a pretty dark area too. Not many street lights at night. Another thing, I ONLY here the birds at night none during the day. Now how is it that all the species of bird act the same way at the same time? If I am mistaken in anthing please let me know so I can do some more thinking. As I sayed I am not an expert on birds. :P

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I think I figured it out. It has to do with the change in the environment itself. The only recent environmental issue that has been getting worse each year that I can think of is Global Warming. That would explain why it is happening world wide, and why it is happening now. Although it does not explain why only birds are beening affected. Perhaps the are not the only ones. I read that birds loose exess heat in a number of was you can read them if you like at http://birds.suite101.com/article.cfm/do_birds_sweat. Pay attension to the last explanation though.

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Bat's vocalizations are not completely out of the range for human hearing, yes most people can't hear them, but that doesn't mean all cannot hear them. I can. My hearing may be better than yours, you probably have a sense thats better than mine. So in fact, I can hear bats chirping.

A bat uses high frequency sounds, inaudible for most human beings (typically 20kHz- 200kHz whereas a human can only hear up to approximately 20kHz). It looks like the frequencies within our thresholds overlap, so I don't think its entirely out of the question.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing_range

I used to live where there were quite a few bats and what you call chirping, I would call clicking. I heard them every night. I think they might make different sounds for regular night navigation and for prey hunting. Just my opinion. ^_^

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