Where do birds sleep at night?

Where do birds sleep at night?

The majority of the time when we see birds is usually during the day, so where do birds go at night to sleep? From roosting in dense shrubs and trees, nest boxes and large flocks, birds sleep in a range of different places.

Although different bird families sleep in a multitude of locations and places, they all share one common theme - they try and find a location safe from predators, as when birds are asleep they're at their most vulnerable.

The majority of birds do perch horizontally when going to sleep, but there are a few exceptions to this like woodpeckers and treecreepers, which sleep perched vertically. Parrots that are part of the Loriculus group, hang upside down when sleeping!

Perching birds

Members of the passerine family (or perching birds) fall asleep by first finding somewhere to perch. Once they've found a suitable place to sleep, they'll fluff up their feathers, tuck beaks into their back features and most of the time pull up one leg. By pulling up one leg, it creates a downward force that makes the tendons on their feet tighten and grip the perch - which keeps them nice and secure.

This doesn't sound that comfortable to you and me, but birds find this comfortable and allows them to keep warm and conserve energy.

Wading birds and Waterfowl

Wading birds and waterfowl sleep nearby to water and usually in large groups to provide protection and safety in numbers. They are known to sleep on water itself and by sleeping in these large groups can help alert them to any nearby predators.

Swifts and Frigate birds

Birds that spend most of their life in the air, such as Swifts and other frigate birds, do actually sleep on the wing. This has always been a subject that has bemused researchers for years, but after a study back in 2016, found that Swifts do actually retain their navigational ability even when asleep! In other words, they can sleep with their eyes closed!

An even more amazing feat is that these birds do manage to get REM sleep in all of this. This does only last a couple of seconds thought but is enough - pretty much the equivalent to a power nap.