Best 20 Ways, How birds sleep? Updated 2021

How birds sleep?

Like all other living beings, birds also spend a very tiring day finding food and water for themselves and their families. The whole process is very tiring, and so they have to sleep to regain their energy for the next day. So, yes! Birds do sleep. But, how do birds sleep? Well they don’t lay down like us or nor do they demand a fancy bed with silk pillows to sleep in. Rather, they have their own mechanisms of sleeping.

Songbirds often tend to find a secluded or alone branch with minimal interference. When they find such a branch, they land on it, fluffing up their upper and down feathers. After doing so, they tuck their head backwards in their feathers to keep themselves and by closing their eyes they go to sleep. 

Some water birds sleep in water too, while others also tend to sleep in holes, and cavities. Some birds like ducks also have the capability to be half asleep. They can sleep with their one eye open while maintaining their sleep state. They do so to be aware about the surrounding activities, and so they keep an eye on dangers.

Human beings, when they get exhausted, need rest, and they have to sleep to obtain their energy back for performing physical activity. Similarly, birds are very engaging animals, and hence they are always flying, so their body gets worn out. As a result, the metabolic rate of birds is very high, and they have to get rest as well. So, how birds sleep then?

You may have seen a duck on a lake sleeping or an owl sleeping during the day. But that’s a rare sight. It is not easy to see a bird sleeping, so let’s see how and why they sleep. 

We humans, when sleep we are entirely in a numbed state, but that’s not the case with the birds. They can control their sleep patterns. It is fascinating that they can sleep with one eye open, which explains only half of the part of their brain that is in resting mode. 

It is called a unihemispheric( USWS) sleep wave. In this situation, the remaining part of the brain is active and can look for any danger and threat. There are no bright pieces of evidence about how they control their sleeping behaviors, but research says that when a bird feels protected and safe, it is more likely to sleep like a baby (deep sleep). 

However, birds are always in an engaging situation; therefore, they mostly use the USWS technique. It is even observed that some species of birds like migrating birds or other aerial species can even sleep with one eye while they are flying. 

How birds sleep in a flock? It’s a coping strategy that helps the birds to rest and fly at the same time. It also increases the chance of survival of each bird. Because in a flock, there are more birds to look after for a predator. 

When winter approaches, the small birds like chickadees, blue tits, and bluebirds mostly flock together so that they can share meals, and they also travel for warm and confined places so that they can maintain their body temperatures in the winter.

You have also definitely observed that birds get puffed up while they are resting. They do that because they protect their fragile body parts by safeguarding them with feathers. When they puff themselves up, they create air sacs which maintain their body temperatures and provide heat in the colder environments. They also pull their one feet up while sleeping; it saves the body heat. 

The legs and feet of the birds also play an essential role in the sleeping process. How do the birds sleep? We know about muscles and tendons. When birds bend their legs, the tendon muscles shrink their toes, and their feet get tightly locked to the pole. This technique does not let them fall off even when they are in a deep sleep. The contracted muscles are only released when the birds consciously straighten up their leg. 

Do birds sleep? 

Yes, they do need rest to accumulate the wasted energy. So the birds have to sleep for this purpose. But by the time they have developed some specific techniques to sleep in hazardous environments without getting caught up by any predator. 

Day or night birds? 

You may have seen an owl resting during the day and flying at night. As owls are nocturnal animals, they are sleeping for the whole day. They usually lock up their lens to limit the daylight, and they typically love to sleep in dark places. 

On the other hand, most species of the birds are diurnal means they wake up with the sun and sleep as soon as the sun goes down. These days birds look for something like poles or perches to hold on. They will fluff up their feathers and tuck their head back and usually lift a leg up to the body to sleep. It sounds like a very unpleasant situation for us, but it’s quite cozy and comfortable. The puffed feathers maintain body temperature in cold habitat and protect the crucial organs. Lifted leg prevents any heat loss. 

Where do birds sleep at night? 

How birds sleep? We already discussed that in the above sections, but where do they sleep? It is also an intriguing question. Many birds will mostly sleep at the places where they spend most of their day, but you know there are other things as well, which also has an impact on the places where they love to sleep. 

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Are nests their beds? 

In cartoons and short stories, they always show birds living and sleeping in their nests. But, it is hardly the truth. Birds usually search for places that are closed and dark, mostly in gutters, chimneys, etc. They rarely sleep in the nest, or they never sleep in the nest. Usually, it’s in a very lowkey situation due to baby birds. Therefore it’s not suitable for sleeping. 


It is more likely that the same bird species live and sleep together. It saves them from predators.On the other hand, large-sized birds love to sleep in dense shrubs. Birds like quails, grouse which usually don’t fly, love to sleep in these shrubs. 

The perching birds (passerine family); they sleep on branches with one foot up and one on the pole. Passerine birds usually sleep in flocks so that they can share their body temperatures and can survive for more extended periods. 

Why can birds sleep on branches?

How birds sleep? Particularly perching birds that rest on a pole for such a long period and don’t fall off. These birds have skeletal adaptations for sleeping on perches or branches. 

Human beings have two bones starting from their hip to the foot. But, birds have two bones. When a bird lands on the branch or perches, the tendon gets tightened up. As a result, the toes of the bird’s feet get curled up. 

To us, it may seem that birds are putting a lot of effort while maintaining their balance on a branch, but it’s s their natural mechanism, and there is no energy used in the process. It is quite natural. When the birds want to wake up, the tendon releases, and the toes get straightened up, and the bird is ready to fly. 

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How do birds sleep in trees?

For sleeping, birds have to get to a safe place. Perching birds usually sleep on branches, and branches are located on the trees. But, at the same time, they also have to look up for the predators, cope with the environment, and protect themselves.

So for sleeping on branches, the birds first find tall trees with dense branches. Then they sleep on branches which are entirely at a height from the ground so that they can save themselves from their common predators like cats, dogs, etc. as they have developed locking toe mechanisms so they won’t fall off from the branch as well.

How birds sleep while flying?

Migratory birds have to fly all the time through the year, and they have to rest as well, right? So how do they do it? The answer is they sleep with their one eye open called the unihemispheric sleep wave. In this way, they can sleep and be alert at the same time. Half of the brain is sleeping while the other half is active. It enables them to travel long distances with the energy preserving technique. 

Not only birds but dolphins also utilize this technique to look after their babies while they are sleeping and being awake at the same time. Woah! Pretty amazing. 

How long do birds sleep?

Like humans, the birds also have to get a good night or beauty sleep. On average, twelve hours of sleep are required by the bird for good health. Their sleeping patterns are fragile, and they can easily get affected by external factors like sound, noise, bright light change in temperatures, etc. Nocturnal birds sleep in the day for 12 hours while diurnal birds rest in the night for the same period.

How birds sleep in winter?

When winter approaches and day becomes short, the birds know that winters are here. In the cold nights of winter, birds usually keep them warm by fluffing their feathers and creating air sacs to capture the air and to prevent the outer cold air from coming in. They also lower themselves to cover their legs and feet so that they can keep them warm. They also tuck their head back in the feather to prevent their beaks from freezing.

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How birds sleep in the rain?

When it’s drizzling, the birds can cope with the rain because their feathers prevent the water from getting in, and they can sleep. However, when it rains heavily, the birds have to find shelter, and they will ultimately have to conserve energy. On the rainy days, they will remain inactive in enclosed spaces, just like when they are sleeping. However, prolonged rain will ultimately deprive them of energy.

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