DID I HEAR ONE ?
Nightingales get their name from the Old English for Night Singer or Night Songstress (although in fact only the males sing) but they are not the only birds to sing at night.
The commonest night singers in Britain include Robins and Blackbirds which also have beautiful songs. If you do hear a bird singing at night, and you are not in S England or it’s not in mid April-early June, then it is almost sure to be something else.
You can upload any recording you manage to make on our SoundCloud site. If you like, send us your recording if you are not sure.
Check this BTO video on nocturnal singers – Nightingales and others
Listen to a really great Nightingale (in Northamptonshire, recorded by Nick Penny)
Why do birds sing at night ? That’s a big question for bird experts but Robins, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and most others are heard singing at night because of light pollution. Street lights, security-lights and flood-lamps don’t just blot out the stars, they confuse birds into thinking it’s daytime. That’s probably not good for most of them, and nor is sound pollution. Traffic noise is known to disrupt bird songs.
Nightingale males sing at night to advertise their territory (home) to females who are flying overhead at night while on migration. Once they secured a mate, they mostly fall silent at night but go on singing in daytime into June. Some say 1-3pm is the best time to hear them in the afternoon but they are then harder to pick out from other birds.