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6 Birds That Chirp at Night in California (with Pictures)

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great horned owl eating squirrel

Depending on where you live in California, you may be used to sleeping through the noise at night, such as traffic and emergency sirens. But in some locations, you may be surprised to hear another sound at night: birds chirping. If you’re curious about who exactly to blame for disturbing your slumber, we’ve got you covered. Here are 6 birds that chirp at night in California.

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Top 6 Birds That Chirp at Night in California:

1. Northern Mockingbird

northern mockingbird perching
Image Credit: Stubblefield Photography, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
California range: Statewide except for northeast and east-central region

The Northern mockingbird is the most common culprit you’ll hear chirping at night in California. The birds are famous for their imitation skills. Northern mockingbirds can learn up to 200 sounds, including car alarms and other animal noises. They are extremely vocal birds in general, singing and chirping all day and into the night.

Northern mockingbirds chirp through the night, especially during mating season, where the noise functions as a way for males to mark their territory and attract females.

2. Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark Perched on a Fence Post
Image Credit: Kerry Hargrove, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Sturnella neglecta
California range: Statewide

Western meadowlarks are found throughout California, primarily in grassland and scrub brush habitats. The males sing and chirp at night during mating season to attract mates and defend their territory against competitors.

You’re more likely to hear the birds if you live outside the major metropolitan areas of California because they prefer more open locations. Western meadowlarks are a staple of California’s bird population.

In the early 20th century, farmers in California conducted their own study of the birds and their diet, wondering if they ate enough grain to be considered a pest. The verdict? Western meadowlarks eat mainly insects, including those that threaten grain crops.

3. Marsh Wren

marsh wren perched on cattail
Image Credit: Michael Chatt, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Cistothorus palustris
California range: Statewide during migration, southern and central coast otherwise

Marsh wrens are not as common in California as the first two birds on our list. They prefer marshy habitats and are only reliably found in small portions of the southern and central coast. During migration, marsh wrens are found in most of the state.

They sing and chirp most often at dawn and dusk but have been known to continue the noise throughout the night. Marsh wrens are tough little birds that regularly attack the nests of other species as well as their own, destroying both eggs and newly hatched chicks.

4. Killdeer

killdeer bird
Image Credit: Esteban Rodriguez, Pixabay
Scientific name: Charadrius vociferus
California range: Statewide

Killdeers are named for their distinct and loud vocal call: “Kill-deer!” You may hear this call even at night, no matter where you are in California. Killdeers live in open grassland habitats but consider human structures like lawns, golf courses, and football fields suitable, and their range is extensive. They nest in the ground. The mother birds famously distract predators from their nests by dragging a wing as if it’s broken, leading the attacker away from their eggs.

5. American Robin

american robin in the meadow
Image By: Veronika Andrews, Pixabay
Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
California range: Southern California in winter, year-round in the rest of the state

Few birds are as familiar as the American robin in the daylight. It’s a common sight even in busy cities. However, robins don’t naturally chirp at night like the other birds on our list but are famously vulnerable to light pollution. That means all the bright city lights can confuse the birds into thinking it’s daytime, even at night. A 2006 study documented this phenomenon, with the researcher noting that he chose robins as his subject because they aren’t known for singing at night.

6. Great Horned Owl

close up of a great horned owl in winter
Image Credit: Wild0ne, Pixabay
Scientific name: Bubo virginianus
California range: Statewide

If you hear hooting at night, you probably already know it’s an owl, but this species makes numerous other vocalizations, including chirping. Great horned owls are found throughout California in almost any type of habitat. They’ll live in cities just as easily as in rural forests, deserts, and grasslands. As one of the most widespread owl species in America, these birds are happy to feast on small rodents, frogs, and even other birds of prey.

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Chirping Birds Keeping You Awake? Here’s How to Stop It

Window Curtain
Image By: Pexels, Pixabay

No matter which of these 6 birds is chirping outside your window at night in California, it’s probably not helping you sleep well. Here are some tips that may help you sleep better when surrounded by chirping!

If the birds are perching in a tree near your window, you could encourage them to find a spot further away by covering the branches in bird netting. However, this is a less practical option if the tree is tall and broad.

Try blocking out the noise by running a fan or white noise machine inside your room. Insulating curtains could also help reduce the chirping sounds. Another option is to sleep with earplugs or noise-deadening headphones.

If you have an unlimited budget and live in a particularly noisy location, you could consider upgrading your home windows to a double-paned version. This solution probably won’t be worth the money to keep the sound of birds chirping out!

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Summing Up

Most of the birds on our list are only noisy at night during mating season, and if you’re struggling to block out the chirping, your best bet may be to wait them out. Birds are one part of the natural world that make a home wherever people are, even if that’s in the middle of Los Angeles, one of the biggest cities in the world.

Featured Image Credit: Feng Yu, Shutterstock

About the Author Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth Gray spent more than 20 years working as a veterinary nurse before stepping away to become a stay-at-home parent to her daughter. Now, she is excited to share her hard-earned knowledge (literally--she has scars) with our readers. Elizabeth lives in Iowa with her family, pet Husky and the worldʻs most patient cat. When not writing, she enjoys watching all sports but especially soccer, reading, and spending time outdoors with her family.