Where do birds go at night? Some friends and I have noticed that, while cars get destroyed under trees during the day, and the sky is noisy, there seem to be no birds out at night. Where do they go?, and Why is my car still clean?
They do what you do. Go to their nests and sleep. However, they always keep one eye open.
Well, not always; but most of the time. Or so says Cecil.
Most birds are quite delicately built; it wouldn’t do to be flying around in the dark, as the risk of colliding with something is much greater.
Most birds will just find some quiet secluded place and sleep at night - for many birds, that will be a branch well shielded by leaves. They are normally very inconspicuous when asleep.
If you happen to park under a communal night roost, your car will get covered. However, a bird’s digestive system has a very high passage rate - often a matter of minutes - and since they do not eat at night, relatively little will be defecated compared to the day.
There are of course some nocturnal birds such as owls, nighthawks, and nightjars.
At least one species of swift apparently sometimes does not roost at night, but actually manages to sleep on the wing, high in the air away from obstacles.
And some diurnal birds are active at times when you’d least expect it. We found radiotagged Laughing Gulls appearing at Atlantic City Airport in the middle of the night - 1 or 2 am. I’d sometimes see them flying just above the light line in mall parking lots after dark. I think they may have been going after flying insects. They did this at the time when their kids were eating up a storm, getting big for fledging.
I suppose when demand and competition is high, a parent will do what needs to be done. Plus who can sleep when Junior is tossing a fit?
But for the most part, diurnal birds will go find a safe haven (thickets, treehole, sandbar, shrub) for their nightly roost.