hummingbird on orange background

If you’re not a morning person, but you love birding, then you don’t have to get up at dawn to enjoy it. Instead, turn your attention to the list of birds that fly at dusk. There are many birds that are out and about from sunup to sundown and well into the night. Dusk can be the best time to sight certain species of birds and it can also be a great time to catch a beautiful sunset. As you learn more about nocturnal birds, you’ll notice, just like diurnal birds, these birds put in plenty of work searching for new roosting spots, hunting, and foraging for food.

There are many birds that fly at dusk including the following:

  • Owls
  • American woodcocks
  • Wilson’s snipes
  • Chimney swifts
  • Nighthawks
  • Nightjars

Some of these birds may also be active on and off during the day, but they’re mainly active at sunset. Sighting these birds during this time can provide a whole new birding experience, especially when it comes to species that you’re not familiar with. Many of these birds will spend the duration of the night flying around, hunting and foraging for food, while others will make dramatic displays that alert any invading birds that a particular territory has already been claimed. If you’ve never tried birding at night, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn more about these elusive birds and you may end up making it a habit to head out at dusk from here on out.

Read on to learn more about these fascinating birds and where you can find them, what you can expect to find these birds doing at sunset, and when is the best time to sight them.

Evening Birds

You may be wondering why anyone would want to try birding at dusk, but if you’re asking this question, then the odds are you’ve never tried it yourself. Being out in nature at this time can expose you to a whole new slew of bird species that you’ve never had the pleasure to observe before.

There is plenty of bird activity at dusk. Just like in the morning, the robin will be very vocal and active well into the evening. Their songs may seem out of place during this time of day, but it can definitely enhance any sunset experience.

If you want to learn what is the best time of the day for birdwatching, head over to our special article on the topic!

Owls

owl

The most fascinating out of all the nocturnal creatures, the owl is just waking up at dusk and about to begin its nocturnal rounds. Because of this, dusk is definitely the perfect time to sight some owls. In many parts of the country, you can hear and sight owls year-round, yet winter seems to be one of their most active periods because it’s also breeding season for other species. During the late summer months, you may also notice a boost in the owl’s activity because their brood will be out trying to fly and testing their vocal cords.

Not all owls will hoot, so if you’re trying to check some owls off your list, it’s important that you know what you’re listening for. As an example, the great horned owl has the classic owl hoot that you’re probably familiar with. Female and male great horned owls often hoot in unison, however, the females hoot is often higher pitched.

But not all owls hoot. As an example, the screech owl makes unique sounds that include wailing and trills.

American Woodcock

The American woodcock’s sky dance is known throughout the birding community. These chubby shorebirds spend most of their time in the upland woods as opposed to the water’s edge. In the spring, at dusk, they perform a very elaborate display out in the open and do so to claim their territory. Their dance consists of sitting on the ground and making a type of peent call. Next, they fly up in the sky, making their wings flutter. They will then circle higher into the air and plummet back to the ground. They may repeat this process a few times a night.

Wilson’s Snipe

Related to the American Woodcock, Wilson’s snipe is another shorebird that makes a big flight display at dusk. This bird’s call is best described as haunting. The noise they make is created by air that flows over their tail. These birds can commonly be found in wet areas especially along the edges of a marshy pond.

Chimney Swifts

While in the past these birds commonly roosted along cliffs, in caves, and in hollow trees, today they are mainly found on human structures. After they fly all day searching for food, these birds will congregate in a communal roost. Their roosts are usually found in chimneys and smokestacks. You can see thousands of these birds flying into different structures at sunset, especially during migration.

While an eastern bird, you can find similar species in the west. However, these species are less likely to call a human structure home. The white throated swift can commonly be found in canyons and mountains while the Vaux’s swift calls the Pacific Northwest home.

Nightjars

sunset

Nightjars, also known as goatsuckers are a nocturnal species of birds that have very large mouths that they use to feed on flying insects that they eat by scooping out of the air.

Nighthawks

The Nighthawk can be active during the day or night. These birds have a very erratic flight pattern and slender, long wings. Their loud call will quickly alert you to their presence.

Related Questions

What Time Do Nocturnal Birds Go to Sleep

This will depend on the specific species of bird, their age, the time of year, and whether they were successful in catching food or foraging for the night. Often, if a bird has eaten their fill, they will go to sleep a few hours before dawn. Birds that are not able to find food will stay up as late as possible before calling it quits and turning in.

What Typing of Birding Tool is More Beginner-Friendly?

If you’re new to birding, then choosing between a spotting scope and a pair of binoculars can be a difficult choice. For some, this will be a matter of personal preference. However, spotting scopes such as the Emarth Waterproof Angled Spotting Scope are known to be easier to adjust compared to birding binoculars. If you’d like to learn more about how spotting scopes work and which models have a reputation for being more beginner-friendly, make sure you stop by and read our spotting scope buyer’s guide.

Final Thoughts

Watching birds in flight at dusk as they forage and hunt, try to attract mates, or work to defend their territory can be an exciting experience for any new birder.

While birding at dawn can definitely be an impressive sight to behold, the birds that fly at dusk bring a whole new sense of beauty to an evening outdoors. From Nighthawks and swifts to woodcocks and owls, there are plenty of birds to sight. One of the best parts about sighting these birds is the fact that you won’t have to set your alarm early to sit back and enjoy all the action.