Seagulls are a common sight in coastal areas all around the world. These birds are known for their characteristic cry, their love for fish and chips, and their ability to swoop and dive over the water. But what about their nocturnal behaviour? While most seagulls are diurnal and active during the day, some species are known to fly at night.
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This is especially true if they are near city lights, which can attract them. However, seagulls are not as active at night as they are during the day. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind seagulls’ nocturnal activity and how they adapt to living in both day and night environments. So, let’s find out more about these intriguing birds and their unique habits.
Why Do Seagulls Fly at Night?
Seagulls are often seen flying at night due to their awareness of potential food sources. In areas with high human populations, seagulls have been observed flying more frequently during nighttime hours.
As scavengers, seagulls have a diverse diet and will consume almost anything they come across. Their regular food sources include fish, insects, earthworms, and eggs, and they have even been known to prey on other birds.
Given their opportunistic nature when it comes to food, seagulls are willing to scavenge human leftovers, garbage, and other trash materials, even if it means being active at night. Bright city lights provide them with additional opportunities to find food sources.
In addition to food-seeking behavior, seagulls may also take flight to the sea at night to protect themselves from predators. They have been observed roosting on the ocean, far away from potential intruders.
Are Seagulls Noctornual?
Naturally, seagulls are not adapted to fly during the night. The majority of gull species are diurnal, meaning they are active during the daytime. This is primarily due to their limited night vision caused by the size of their eye pupils and their lack of sufficient eye muscle strength to adapt to low-light conditions.
However, there is one exception to this rule, known as the swallow-tailed gull. Swallow-tailed gulls are the only gull species equipped with a tapetum lucidum, a biological reflective system that enhances their night vision capabilities. These unique gulls reside in the Galapagos Islands, inhabit warmer waters, and feed on small fish that come to the surface at night to catch plankton.
Apart from the swallow-tailed gulls, most seagull species are unable to function in complete darkness. However, they are capable of flying at night if there are nearby sources of light available.
Where Do Seagulls Go at Night?
When it comes to their sleeping habits, seagulls are pretty typical diurnal birds. As the sun goes down, the birds become noticeably less active and begin to seek out their roosting locations for a good night’s rest. While seagulls can sleep in a variety of places, the most common locations are the water or nests if they have a chick to protect.
However, they also opt for beaches or sandbars, parks, and even the rooftops of large buildings. Each location has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and ultimately, the choice of where to sleep will depend on factors like food availability, predator presence, and environmental conditions.
Other Birds That Fly at Night
- Nightjars – These birds can be easily recognized by their long, slender bodies, short legs, and large wings. They are primarily active during the twilight hours, making them nocturnal creatures. Nightjars can be found in various locations worldwide, except for New Zealand.
- Owls – With around 250 different owl species, most of them are predominantly active at night. Apart from their exceptional night vision, owls possess superior binocular vision compared to other birds, making them skilled nocturnal hunters.
- American Woodcock – These birds are rarely spotted due to their excellent camouflage provided by their plumage. They spend the majority of their time on land, particularly in brushy habitats, where they feed on earthworms.
- Ducks – Ducks are considered semi-nocturnal birds. They possess vision three times better than humans, including impressive night vision capabilities. Additionally, ducks have the ability to perceive the ultraviolet colour spectrum, which is rare among most bird species.
- Geese – Geese are adept at functioning in low-light conditions. Compared to humans, their night vision is ten times better. They are frequently observed during nighttime periods, especially during migration seasons.
- Nighthawks – These birds primarily feed on insects and are known as crepuscular creatures, meaning they are most active during the late evening or early morning hours. Nighthawks are renowned for their acrobatic flight style and are often referred to as “bullbats.”
Why do seagulls fly around at night?
The truth is, seagulls are nocturnal beings, actively foraging for food during the nighttime. Unlike other birds, seagulls possess special photoreceptor cells in their eyes that allow them to see better in low-light environments. Their excellent vision and heightened sense of hearing allow them to locate prey and hunt at night.
Do seagulls go at night?
As diurnal creatures, seagulls tend to rest on coasts or on other surfaces when night approaches. Interestingly, these birds are known to sleep while standing on one foot, which is both amusing and quite impressive, considering their size and weight.
Why are seagulls so noisy at night?
Seagulls are social animals, and they tend to congregate in large groups. At night, they huddle closely together to keep warm, but this close proximity can also lead to conflicts within the group. Noisy squabbles over food and nesting space can break out, and seagulls will fill the silence with a symphony of caws, squawks, and screeches.
The dark hours of the night aren’t always reserved for human sleep; a variety of bird species have motivations for taking flight under the cover of darkness. For seagulls, in particular, nocturnal flight can provide access to terrain and prey that is typically inaccessible during daylight hours.
These birds may take to the skies within illuminated zones surrounding coastal regions, possibly in an effort to avoid potential predators or obtain food that is plentiful under the cover of darkness.
Despite the potential dangers of navigating through the night, these birds have adapted to make the most of the resources available to them, showcasing their survival instincts in their unique approach to flight.
An animal enthusiast with an interest in zoology, studying the behavior and activities of animals in the wild habitat. I work on research projects related to species conservation and endangered species protection. I also leverage zoology to become an educator, educating others about the importance of protecting our natural environment and the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.