Where do all the birds go at night? Where do they sleep? Questions that children often ask but many adults wouldn’t be able to answer. Read on to see what is happening where I live.
I am inviting you to learn about the "bird tree" and the life it supports. What I am calling the "bird tree" is a sprawling banyan in my neighborhood that is the only bird "hotspot", or roost, for a multitude of birds in my area. I have known about this tree for many years and have occasionally taken photographs of it, but never explored the matter further. In a way, this little project has been in the works for a number of years and is now slowly and organically coming together.
This is it. This magnificent banyan tree sits at the edge of a pond on one of the golf courses in my neighborhood. On the land side, the tree is directly adjacent to busy bocce ball courts that get plenty of human traffic and loud parties. The other side of the tree hangs over the pond, nicely protected from predator interference.
So, to answer the question where the birds go at night: To this tree! All the wading birds in my neighborhood go there.
What happens is that by end of the day, the wading birds come in from their respective "jobs sites" and start to gather on the shore of the pond. They have a little congregation before bedtime, not unlike a happy hour gathering. Talking, squawking, maybe telling each other about their days. As the sun draws closer to setting, they fly up to the tree to secure a spot for the night.
The tree hosts a large variety of wading birds, from the ubiquitous white ibis, egrets, various species of heron, cormorants and anhingas, to large brown pelicans. It is the analog of a large housing development, densely populated with mixed ethnicities. It is a tree of life. However, it seems to be limited to wading birds since I have never seen eagles, ospreys, blue jays, etc. spending the night in it.
The birds are now spread over the golf course ponds where they stalk their prey with intense focus. They hunt and eat all day, and then return at night to rest. Most birds are territorial, meaning they will go to work at the same pond each day. At the pond behind my house, I see the same egret, the same heron, and the same anhinga every day. They become like old friends. They also seem to know me. Same thing with their resting places at night. Egrets gather on certain branches, anhingas prefer top spots, etc. I spotted a little green heron who has his designated spot at the edge of the tree, off the beaten path. He sits there every night, all by himself.