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My iPhone photo of my bird feeding station in the garden at nighttime

Do birds eat from feeders at night

You are wondering if your small common garden birds can feed off a bird feeder at night, well the truth is they can't, as they become blind under low lighting or when it gets dark.

Birds do not eat from bird feeders at night time because the bird species that do use them in the day, are all diurnal - so cannot see under low light or at night time. It is possible to see a few up late such as Robins, but in many cases you won't see common garden birds use feeders at night.

It certainly can happen with the occasional daring small garden birds arriving at night to feed, but its not an occurrence most of us would experience.

Diurnal means just that, to be active in the day while sleeping at the nest at night.

Birds that do use bird feeders in the day can still arrive at your garden under low lighting, or even maybe when its dark - but it could be they are setup in a nest in your garden.

Never would a garden bird fly around at night seeking a food source, that can wait until the morning.

To hear activity around your feeders after dark then it could still be a garden bird for a short time, but they really shouldn't be there.

However, if you find your garden to be well light up at night, be it via street lighting or a lit up garden by a porch light - then this could see nearby garden birds arrive as the light can help them see a little better.

Not a common occurrence

Birds who visit our gardens in the day to feed are what is known as diurnal, meaning they can see in the day only so are non-nocturnal.

Its not by choice either, as its in their nature to not being able to see in low level lighting, or night time as their vision becomes impaired.

Unlike nocturnal birds, such as the Owl, common garden birds do not feed at night for the soul reason of not being able to see too well or not at all.

And well it certainly can happen to an occasional late arrival, such as Robins - you are not going to see common British garden birds feed at the bird table or on the bird feeding station.

To be near a wooded area or in a more rural location, it could be Owls venturing into your garden, or a pigeon can turn up late to anyone's bird feeders at night.

Can happen in lit up area

Saying all that, I believe its possible to see a handful of small common garden birds turn up to the bird feeder at night, providing its still early in the evening.

Garden birds can't see very well in low lighting but that isn't to say they won't give it a try, if its means food is at stake.

So I would say birds do eat from feeders at night, but when its still early in the day.

Never can you expect wild birds to use a bird feeder later into the evening, or gone midnight as they would be settled in for the night in their wooden bird box or their natural nest made in the wild.

And while taking into consideration it still being early in the evening or just after dark, its certainly possible to see birds arrive at a bird feeder if the area is well light up.

It could be a porch light or light shining outdoors from inside a window or conservatory, as the light can assist them to see better - but it could only apply to birds nesting in your garden as they won't fly at night time to feed in your garden specifically.

Birds can't see at night

There are such things as nocturnal vs diurnal birds in the UK, meaning some can see at night, well the more common birds become blind in low lighting or at night.

To see a Robin, Sparrow or Tit fly around at night could be in case of an emergency, such as escaping a predator or their nest being disturbed.

Birds that most commonly visit our gardens are all the species who can't see anything at night time - so are literally blind until the dawn breaks.

British birds that see at night however, such as Owls, will pray on small animals or rodents at night - less common birds such as the songbird Nightingales or Nightjars who feed at night on insects, moths and beetles - don't ever use our gardens to feed.

More so you'd never see any of these nocturnal birds use any kind of bird feeder.

So, as all common garden birds can't see at night time, it would be a rare occurrence to see one use feeders at night.

Too hear night visitors

Just because you hear bird songs or chirping at the bird feeder or nearby, its not to say birds are indeed feeding at night.

Well, that might not be the case of one or two occasional late birds eating off the ground, but to use a feeder at night - when they become blind - would be a miracle.

If you are wondering if garden birds are using your bird feeder at night time, they certainly could be if its still early, but only if there's plenty house or street lighting.

 

Later into the evening up to midnight and beyond, then its not likely to be them feeding.

Again, you could hear the occasional nocturnal bird, much like the Owl, but in terms of small common garden birds - its probably not them.

It could be them in trees, bushes or a hedgerow chirping away or as you hear bird songs later in the night - usually the Robin is the culprit - but that isn't to say they are feeding.

To summarise

People certainly do report receiving occasional night time visitors to their bird feeders at, but more when it gets dark out earlier in the day, or under low lighting.

You see, all common garden birds in Britain are what is called diurnal, so they are only able to see in the day - or under a little low light.

To see garden birds use a bird feeder when its dark out would be rare, but when it does happen they could be assisted with a lit up garden or with help of street lighting.

But just because you've heard garden birds at the bird feeder, be it hanging up on a branch or bracket, or if you believe them to be on the bird table - they could just be arriving back late to their nest.

Birds become blind under low lighting or once it gets dark, so its not in their nature to feed at night when they are so vulnerable.

Nocturnal birds in Britain such as the Owl is unlikely to be seen in a garden, let alone ever using a bird feeder.

However, other nocturnal birds such as the smaller Nightingales or Nightjars could visit your garden at night, but again these are not birds who feed off bird feeders at all.

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