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How Do Birds Sleep?

By Puja RoySeptember 11, 2022
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How Birds Sleep on Trees without Falling?

Even the simplest things in life cannot be understood until we delve deeper and find out the actual reason behind them. For instance, we have seen birds working all day long to gather food, make nests, and rear their young ones. They also work a lot to stay alert and defend their eggs from predators. Don’t they need to rest? If yes, how do birds rest?

We have seen a bird sleeping on a branch or in its nest. We have seen them resting while perching on a wire. What do they do to maintain the perfect balance? How can they rest without falling off from the branches? Let us find out the answers.

Birds Do need to Sleep

Birds are after all animals who work hard to meet both ends. They have to figure out food sources to sustain and survive. They are very hard working and have to fly around to different locations to gather food and build nests. This is quite tiring. Their day begins way before ours.

No matter how efficient a bird’s physiology is, a bird will need to rest and regain energy for the next day. They do need to rest even if it is for a small time span. Diurnal birds sleep at night and the nocturnal ones rest in the daytime. It all depends on their food habits and habitats. Now coming to the question of which bird does not sleep at night, our answer is an owl.

Now, how do birds sleep? We have not seen birds lying down on their nest like animals. What is the right posture for them to sleep? How do they defy gravity when they sleep at night on branches? Let us find out how birds sleep first.

How Do Birds Sleep?

As mentioned earlier, birds need to sleep like most other animals when they are tired. Birds will need a quieter and more peaceful place to close their eyes and sleep. Some birds sleep while perching on a branch. Some sit on their nests and sleep. It has been found that birds sleep less than most animals.

Let us go through this explanation. Our sleep cycles are much longer than birds. We go through numerous rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycles. It is the deepest phase of sleeping time when we dream. It can last for about 10 minutes in humans. You will be surprised to know that the same sleep cycles in birds last for a few seconds. This scientific fact suggests that birds can take faster naps than us and get recharged. Their sleeping time is reduced considerably.

Depending on the species, the style of sleeping varies. We have pet parrots at home. How do parrots sleep? Common parrots can be seen standing. Some parrots sleep hanging upside down. Generally, they perch on a branch and sleep standing.

It shows how brilliantly the birds have adapted themselves. Even though they stand and sleep for hours, it will not cause their legs to strain. In fact, they have developed the capability of falling asleep only in that position. Their posture of standing on a branch or perching will help them fall asleep. Pigeons often stand on one leg and rest in their coups. Why do pigeons stand on one leg? It helps them to relax and rest.

It has also been found that birds fall half asleep. It means their brains remain active partially to avoid becoming prey. They remain alert even while resting and closing their eyes. There is a common question that arises in our minds. Do parrots sleep with their eyes open? When they feel secure, they close their eyes but remain half alert. They will not move a muscle until an external stimulus is waking them up.

A bird sleeping on a branch

A Bird Sleeping on a Branch

Birds that live on land or water mostly do not have to perch to rest. They simply stand on the ground. For instance, ducks do not have claws to perch. Ostriches and flamingos also fall in this category. These birds do not have claws to lock on branches. Flamingos stand on one leg and hide the second to rest. Storks do the same to preserve heat.


What happens if a Bird falls while Sleeping?

There is zero chance for birds to fall off the nest or branches. Even if it happens, the bird will wake up within a fraction of second, flap its wings, and will not even suffer from an impact. Flightless birds stand on the ground or fold their legs to rest.

You will be amazed to know that most birds do not make nests rest. The only purpose to make nests is to make a safe haven for the new generation. It enables them to rear, take care and protect the young ones.

So, if a bird is perching and sleeping and suddenly there is a gust of wind. What will happen? Their claws are built in a very unique way. First, they will not fall off the nest or branches, even if they do, they will fly away safely.

Which animal sleeps while Standing?

You will be surprised to know that some animals sleep while standing on the ground. Elephants, horses, and zebras stand and sleep. This animal can sleep while standing like a few bird species due to its adaptations.


This is how birds generally sleep. Some birds take short naps even during the day whenever and wherever they find themselves safe. Domesticated birds show such behaviours. Wild birds follow a particular routine to rest. Irrespective of the routine, birds sleep and close their eyes. They also remain alert to tackle alarming situations while they rest.