do black birds fly at night

We cant take our eyes off of the swirling blackbirds you might see at dusk, thousands of them flying through the air together in what looks like controlled chaos.

You cant even believe your eyes when you see it, resembling computer-generated effects from a sci-fi movie. Truly a sight to behold, we wanted to understand why the birds might do it.

“Its called a murmuration – the bird dance, an aerial ballet with tens of thousands of starlings, grackles, cowbirds and red-wing blackbirds flying in mass but seemingly with one mind,” Gathany wrote. “Watching it can be mesmerizing – its a twisting, swirling, morphing, shape-shifting living cloud.

Like Gathany in Huntsville, we filmed the murmurations in Northport, Ala., on the stretch of Harper Road between Highway 82 and Flatwoods Road. between 5-5:30 each afternoon, thousands of blackbirds will appear from the South, swirl through the air in mixed flocks and eventually settle into a nearby patch of trees moments before sundown.

He said groups of birds like this often fly in mixed flocks, consisting of true blackbirds (red-winged, most of the time), common grackles, brown-headed cowbirds and starlings.

“They dont participate in this behavior during the breeding season because their energy is geared towards producing and raising young birds,” Steinberg said. “It probably happens in the winter because their is power in numbers in terms of avoiding predators.

“The crazy swirling effort by thousands at dusk is likely a way to confuse any nearby predators such as hawks and owls.”

Steinberg works in the geography department, specifically focusing on habitat mapping related to conservation. He wrote the book

“The birds may also flock as a way to find food in the winter, sort of a cooperative effort, but that is speculative,” he said.

The birds all end up gathering in the same area as the sun goes down, a process called “roosting,” picking an isolated patch of trees where theyll spend the night.

Watch our new video above, and check out Bob Gathanys video from earlier this year below:

Migratory restlessness in birds is difficult to define

However, there was one thing they were unable to determine. Since caged birds are unable to fly, it is difficult to determine their precise departure date. Put another way, it was impossible to determine whether the captive birds’ steadily rising agitation genuinely correlated with a sort of warm-up for the great migration.

Only birds that live in the wild and are free can respond to this question. But until recently, scientists were unable to continuously measure the activity of songbirds in the wild. Although the technology existed, it was too large and heavy for small birds and lacked sufficient data storage capacity.

The problem was resolved for the ornithologists by the miniaturization of radio-telemetry, which allowed them to attach the two-gram devices to the birds’ backs like a kind of backpack. While some of these birds would migrate, others would spend the winter in the same spot. Measurements in the days preceding departure showed no differences in the activities of a partially migratory blackbird population during the day and at night. Additionally, prior to their autumnal departure, the free-living blackbirds showed no signs of pre-migratory agitation. Conversely, at the moment of departure, they abruptly transitioned to a nocturnal rhythm. “The blackbirds take off quickly, leaping from zero to one hundred in an instant.” Even though they are nocturnal birds, it’s suddenly time for them to leave at night and travel over the next few nights, according to Jesko Partecke.

We can’t take our eyes off of the thousands of blackbirds that are flying through the air together in what appears to be controlled chaos as dusk approaches.

It looks so real that it almost defies belief; it looks like computer-generated effects from a science fiction film. It was truly amazing to see, and we were curious as to why the birds might do it.

As dusk approaches, the birds congregate in one location, a phenomenon known as “roosting,” where they select a solitary grove of trees to spend the night.

He added, “It’s possible that the birds band together in an attempt to find food together during the winter, but that’s just speculation.”

He said that flocks of birds like these frequently fly in mixed flocks, with common grackles, brown-headed cowbirds, starlings, and true blackbirds (which are typically red-winged).

FAQ

What do black birds do at night?

Outside of the nesting season, blackbirds generally feed in flocks and roost at night in congregations varying from a few birds to over one million birds. These flocks and roosting congregations are sometimes comprised of a single species, but often several species mix together.

Is it normal for birds to fly at night?

Scientists have long known that most birds make their migratory flights at night. The darkness gives them access to celestial cues that aid in navigation, and cooler temperatures guard against overheating and provide protection from daytime predators.

Do blackbirds migrate at night?

Yellow-headed Blackbirds migrate during the day in long and irregular flocks, gathering for the night at wetlands and roosting with other blackbird species.

Why do blackbirds call at night?

They are staking out their territory. Birds sometimes have territorial “singing fights” where the boldest, most persistent caller will win that territory. Other birds will sing and also fight over territory. Most territorial calls are evening and night done from their perch.