Hundreds of thousands of songbirds are traveling south. Some are headed to Central and South America, while others are simply looking for a less cold and snowy place to spend the winter. We tend to think of songbirds as creatures of the daytime, but during the migration season, some regions see night skies turning into a superhighway of travelers.

Why do some migrating birds fly at night?

If only we could ask them why, so we could know for sure. But scientists have a couple of theories.

  • Fewer predators are out and about. Many songbird species aren’t the agile fliers that waterfowl and birds of prey are. So when they can travel unnoticed, under cover of darkness, that keeps them safer.
  • The atmosphere is calmer and the temperatures are cooler. These conditions let birds expend less energy and get more mileage in their long-distance travels.

Birds also have a special eye protein that may help them better see magnetic fields, which guide their travels, in low lights. They can use the daylight hours to rest and look for food.

How can you support night-traveling birds?

Keep your ears open

If you’re headed outside for a final walk with the dog or enjoying a cozy bonfire, listen. You might hear their chirps and tweets as they pass overhead. These are night flight calls, which help them keep tabs on each other while traveling in the dark.

Lower the lights

Light pollution can disorient and confuse migrating birds, throwing them off course and even causing them to collide with buildings and windows. That’s why some big cities have pledged to dim the lights at the peak migration season. You can do the same by keeping your porch light off for a few weeks in the fall. Also, contact your local leaders in government and business, and ask if they can find ways to safely dim the lights during peak migration seasons.

Keep the feeders filled

During the day, migratory birds will be stopping for a rest and refuel. Keeping your feeders filled with high-energy bites is not only a great way to support the birds, but you might experience the excitement of seeing a new-to-you species up close! Lyric Fruit & Nut High Energy Mix features a gourmet blend of select fruits, seeds, and shell-free nuts that will provide birds with the calories they need to keep going.