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Night birding helps you spot a variety of new species that only come out at night, like the Great Horned Owl or the Night Heron. If you're planning on going birding at night, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Any birder knows that all bird species are different and each has its own schedule for sleeping, feeding and staying busy. While most birds are active during the early morning and afternoon, there are a variety of birds that are only active in the evening. If you’re planning a nighttime birdwatching walk, here are some of the birds you might see and a few tips to help guide you along.

nighttime birding - owl

Plan what area you’re going to ahead of time

Before grabbing your gear and heading out on a night birding experience, you should first plan where you’re going and be familiar with the area. Know the area pretty well, so you don’t get lost. It’s also possible to go night birding in your own backyard if it’s not in the city and has an open area. If not, you may want to go on a hiking trial or to a park, but be sure that you are allowed there at night. Another great night birding location is anywhere near a lake or body of water.

Take the right equipment

Birding at night requires similar equipment as birding in the day. However, one major piece of equipment you really need to take with you is a flashlight. A flashlight is important, because it will illuminate your path and prevent you from getting lost. Sometimes, birds are frightened by the intrusive yellow beam, so you should equip the flashlight with a red lens to make it less imposing.

Like any birdwatching walk, you need to take binoculars. Since the night makes it very difficult to see long distances, consider taking high-powered night vision binoculars. This will ensure that you don’t disturb the birds and you get a good look at them. When you’re going birding at night, you also need to wear the right clothes. Wear clothes you would typically go hiking with, such as pants, a long-sleeved shirt and comfortable boots.

How to spot the birds

Depending on what type of bird you’re looking for, spotting them at night requires different techniques. For many nocturnal birds, a good idea is to simply stay in one place and let the birds fly around you, especially if you’re near water. If you’re searching for a Great Horned Owl, you may need to listen for its call and carefully seek it out.

Types of birds you might see

There are many birds you might see at night depending on your location. Owls are the most common nocturnal birds with the Great Horned Owl being a prime bird to see because of its broad range. Another popular bird active at night is the Black-crowned Night Heron, which appears at dusk to forage for insects, fish and frogs.