RSPB
Print page

Do skylarks sing at night or maybe before the sun rises?

Sent in by Mini, India

During the breeding season, skylarks will start to sing from well before dawn and continue until well after dusk. The function of the song at this time of year is to attract a mate, so singing in the dark conveys the same signal to the female as singing during the day. It is the length and duration of these song-flights which attracts the female.

In terms of energy expenditure, the song-flight of the skylark is one of the most costly: flight involves energy expenditure, as does the production of the song. It is believed that this expensive energy cost sends an honest signal to the female of the males fitness and sexual availability.

At other times of year, skylarks are not particularly early risers compared to other families of bird such as the thrushes and finches. They will also sing during these non-breeding periods as an anti-predator deterrent. It is thought that by singing, the skylark is indicating to a potential predator that it is strong and in a healthy condition.

Contact us

If you do have have a wildlife-related question you have not been able to find the answer to, please contact us. Click on the link below to go to our Contact Us page.

Contact us

Bird guide