Current Ornithology pp 187-246
Nocturnality in Colonial Waterbirds: Occurrence, Special Adaptations, and Suspected Benefits
Nocturnality, the habit of being active during darkness, has traditionally been viewed as characteristic of a minority of bird species, with the great majority being considered entirely diurnal. Primary examples of activity at night are found in the Apterigiformes, Strigiformes, Caprimulgiformes, and Apodiformes (Thomson, 1985; Martin, 1990). In the waterbirds (marine, freshwater, and marsh birds), excluding species that are crepuscular (i.e., active at dusk or dawn only), members of eight orders and 27 families are regularly or strictly active at night (Table I). Some seabirds are nocturnal in nest exchanges and chick feedings (e.g., storm petrels, shearwaters, diving petrels, small alcids) but to a large extent diurnal in their search for food. Many aquatic and wading birds (e.g., herons, ducks, shorebirds) are partly or mainly nocturnal, showing considerable activity by night, even during very dark nights. The Limpkins (Aramus aramus) and most rails and coots (Rallidae) are somewhat crepuscular or nocturnal; many species vocalize extensively at night (Bent, 1926; Van Tyne and Berger, 1976).
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