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We can hear birds singing at night (2am) in trees adjacent to the house in mid-December. Why?

Sent in by Chris Marsden, Leyland, Lancs

The main purpose of singing is to attract a mate and defend a territory. Robins are one of the few birds that hold a territory throughout the winter so continue to sing when the majority of other birds have stopped. 

Robins are often one of the first birds to start singing in the morning and the last to finish in the evening so are used to being active in low light conditions. In places where there are street lamps or other artificial light sources, robins can be triggered to start singing because it does not get completely dark. Other disturbances, like a loud noise or movement, can also start birds singing in the night.

Some birds in Britain regularly sing in the night. The nightingale is the bird that many people would associate with nighttime singing but corncrakes and nightjars do as well. However, these birds are only summer visitors to Britain and should now be wintering in Africa.

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