10 Birds That Glow in the Dark (Exceptional)

Yes, there are animals that glow in the dark, from sea creatures to avians.

A number of birds glow in the dark and this is the thrust of this article.

We are going to explore some of the unique birds that glow when in the dark or exposed to UV rays, some it is just their beaks that glow while even the feathers of some others glow.

There are generally two ways that animals glow, biofluorescence and bioluminescence.

Animals that are biofluorescent glow by re-emitting the blue light that hits the biofluorescent part of their body.

When they reemit the light it comes out as red, orange, blue, or any other similar color.

Bioluminescence on the other hand is when these animals that “glow” generate their light through the reactions in their body or by some other means.

A reasonable number of birds glow in the dark, these include owls, parrots, puffins night jars, and some other birds.

These unique birds glow in ways that are not ordinarily visible to our human eyes.

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This field of avian studies is still relatively unexplored so there is not much that is known about the reasons why these birds glow in the way they do.

We will however share as much as we have discovered so stick with us.

Birds That Glow in the Dark

Birds That Glow in the Dark

This list is not exhaustive but it contains a reasonable number of birds that glow in the dark, they include:

1. Crested auklet

This is a seabird in the Alaskan region, it is called “crested” because there is a loose seeming crest that dangles down its face.

They are concentrated feeders, they feed in massive amounts, you can catch hundreds of them diving into bodies of water to get food.

Wherever they nest you are sure to encounter noise there, you would hear countless birds chirping, whistling, honking, and barking.

They like to nest in crevices of rock piles, they are communal birds. Their beaks glow when exposed to UV rays in the dark.

It employs the fluorescent kind of glow. The purpose of this is not yet known but research is still being conducted in this area. Even their feathers too glow.

2. Puffins

The beaks of puffins glow when exposed to black light, this was accidentally discovered in a lab at the University Of Nottingham.

It is known that some puffins are related to the auklet. The beaks of puffins glow orange when exposed to black light.

Puffins are unique birds that can be found on various continents on earth.  

Related: Here is an article I wrote on birds that build beautiful nests

3. Owls

This is not a shock, owls are probably the most renowned nocturnal birds in the world, what you most do not know is that owls too glow.

They glow by fluorescence. When they are exposed to UV rays in the dark you can see their feathers glowing.

Though much is not known about the reason for this phenomenon, however, it is known that the rate of glow in the feathers of owls relates to the age of the owls.

It was discovered that owls glow less as their feathers become older.

We know that when the owls are young and they have new feathers they glow very bright, as they get older and lose pigments and porphyrins, this makes the older owls look duller than younger ones and also darker.

It is safe to say they lose their glow as they age. Owls are fearsome nocturnal birds that have a rich history in myths and superstitions.

Many cultures view them as omens. Just imagine how extra the myths and legends would have been if humans could ordinarily see the glow of owls.

4. Snow geese

This unique species of birds have feathers that are iridescent so the feathers reflect moonlight.

This is what gives them the “glow in the dark” feature.

This is easily observable. These birds have excellent memories and can see way better than humans in the dark.

It has been observed that they can see at least twelve times better than humans in the dark.

5. The American bittern

These are mostly ground birds. It is observed that their feathers shine in the dark. They are migratory birds although not all of them migrate.

When the ones that do migrate fly they do this at night, this is part of the reasons some people might consider them as nocturnal birds.

It is a species from the heron bird family. They tend to breed in the US and Canada but spend winter around Central America, the Caribbean, and Florida.

6. Parrots

Parrots are easily considered the most common exotic pet bird that humans get.

They have several unique qualities, they can learn to vocalize some words with some parrots learning many words.

Some people even ascribe a human-like quality to parrots.

Parrots are usually very beautiful birds, their feathers are very colorful and attractive, but this is not the only attractive thing about the plumage of parrots.

Countless parrots have feathers that glow when exposed to blacklight/UV lights in the dark.

This happens because of the fluorescent quality of their plumage.

It is however apt that you note that it is not all parrots that glow, some parrots do not have this unique type of plumage.

Also check out this article I wrote on birds that imitate sounds

7. Penguins

Penguins are the stuffy of movies and animations, they are cute flightless aquatic birds that have evolved over the years to “fly underwater”.

These birds are very used to life in the snow and water, except maybe the African penguin.

They are known for their cute way of walking and the counter-shading nature of their plumage.

You may not know this but the way penguins are shaded (the popular white and black) is an adapted defense system that helps them camouflage and hide from predators.

Penguins have flippers in place of wings for swimming since they don’t fly. They are great swimmers.

You might not know this but a lot of penguins have fluorescent plumage that glows under UV light.

8. Night Jar

These are nocturnal birds that are very similar to owls, this similarity extends to the point of their fluorescent plumage.

They are not easy to see because of how secretive they are but they make so much noise that you would be able to know the general location that they inhabit.

Conclusion

There are generally two ways that animals glow, biofluorescence and bioluminescence.

Animals that are biofluorescent glow by re-emitting the blue light that hits the biofluorescent part of their body.

When they reemit the light it comes out as red, orange, blue, or any other similar color.

Bioluminescence on the other hand is when these animals that “glow” generate their light through the reactions in their body or by some other means.

A reasonable number of birds glow in the dark, these include owls, parrots, puffins night jars, and some other birds.

These unique birds glow in ways that are not ordinarily visible to our human eyes.

This field of avian studies is still relatively unexplored so there is not much that is known about the reasons why these birds glow in the way they do.

From what we have discussed it is obvious that virtually all birds glow by fluorescence and this is not visible to the naked human eyes.

We have discussed some birds that glow in the dark, the next time you are in a discussion about birds that glow in the dark you can name any of the birds we have listed and discussed above.

Written by Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books

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