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This Whip-poor-will is a true night bird - feeding, mating, and nesting in the dark. But a few songbirds that are active during the day also sing at night. Most renowned is the Nightingale of Europe and Asia. In North America, for about a week each spring, the Yellow-breasted Chat also sings in the darkness.
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Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
[Night sounds, such as crickets and a Great Horned Owl]
After dark, when most birds sleep, a few break into song. Like this Whip-poor-will. [Whip-poor-will song] The Whip-poor-will is a true night bird – feeding, and mating, and nesting in the dark. [Whip-poor-will song]
But a few songbirds that are active during the day also sing at night. Most renowned is the Nightingale of Europe and Asia. [Nightingale song]
In North America, for about a week each spring, the Yellow-breasted Chat also sings in the darkness. [Yellow-breasted Chat song] Why would a bird that carries on all its other activities during the day sing after sunset? [Yellow-breasted Chat song]
Yellow-breasted Chats migrate at night. A male singing then may attract a mate more readily, because it has the sound-stage largely to itself. Most other birds are silent, and the cooler nighttime air carries sound more efficiently than during the day. Chats at night also sing shorter and lower-pitched songs, with longer gaps between songs, a song-pattern that carries well over long distance.
Once the females have all arrived for the season, the male chats go quiet at night. But not the Whip-poor-will. [Whip-poor-will song]
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Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Great Horned Owl recorded by W.R. Fish. Whip-poor-will and Yellow-breasted Chat song recorded by G.A. Keller.
Nightingale song recorded and provided by Martyn Stewart, naturesound.org Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org July 2012 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# song-05-2008-07-24- song-05b
Research cited: Canterbury, Jacqueline Lee. Songs of the Wild: Temporal and Geographical Distinctions in the Acoustic Properties of the Songs of the Yellow-Breasted Chat. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Nebraska, November, 2007.