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How do Owls Sleep? Do they sleep during the day? Answered!

How do Owls Sleep

How do owls sleep? It’s a question that has long intrigued bird watchers and owl enthusiasts alike. How can these aerial predators sleep in one place for hours at a time without falling out of the sky? Turns out, there’s more to owl slumber than meets the eye

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how owls sleep and what benefits this unique form of rest provides them.


How do Owls Sleep?

How do Owls Sleep

Owls are nocturnal animals, which means they sleep during the day and are awake at night. When roosting, owls usually perch on a branch with their feet tucked under them and their head resting on their back. This gives them a good view of their surroundings and allows them to take off quickly if they spot predators or prey. 

Owls do not build nests, so they must find a safe place to roost that will protect them from the elements and predators. Although they are not actively hunting while roosting, owls remain alert and ready to defend themselves if necessary.

Do Owls Sleep Face Down?

No, owls do not sleep face down. Owls sleep on their back, keeping a straight position. The sleeping position might differ between species. Baby owls, however, sleep face down owing to the weight of their heads which their back cannot support. Also, as a matter of fact, adult and baby owls don’t sleep in the same place, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

The sleep location of an owl is called roost, irrespective of the place they sleep. For example, owls might sleep in another bird’s nest, trees, branches, shrubs, etc. But, their sleeping location is called a roost.

Do baby Owls sleep face down?

sleeping owl baby

Baby owls are immune-compromised, weak, and must rest on their bellies with their backs up. Because of the weight of their heads and faces, owlets cannot sleep like adults.

Owls get their firm grip from the toes that keep them steadfast on the tree. They grip the tree branches with their toes which support the weight of their body and keep them erect.

However, Baby owls are not that strong to sleep upright. Hence until they are grown up, they sleep face down.

But, if the baby owls can sleep on ground bushes or shrubs, there’s no need to hang on the tree. So then, why don’t they rest on the ground?

Well, the babies are weak and sometimes chased by predators. So, they sleep on their stomach on tree branches. If they sleep on grounds like mammals and reptiles, they are at a greater chance of being predated. Hence, the owls always roost in safe places.

How long do Owls sleep?

Human beings sleep eight hours a day as it’s necessary for us. However, in general, owls sleep more prolonged periods than other animals and us. On average, the adult owl will sleep for twelve hours. In the case of baby owls, the duration might differ.

But, an owl can sleep as long as seventeen hours. So, we can set the sleeping range for owls at 12 to 17 hours. Humans require rest to strengthen their immune systems, as do animals and birds. But how do owls sleep for so long?

It is to be noted that the resting periods of owls vary depending on the species. The metabolism of these birds is well-known. These high-metabolizing birds must also retain their energy for additional tasks later in the day.

However, note that it’s not only the owl among the birds that sleep for 12 hours. Most birds require twelve hours of sleep to gain the necessary strength. But, an owl will sleep during the day. Most of the time, the sleeping cycle of these birds starts from sunrise and ends before sunset. At night, they become active in food hunting and mating.

Where do Snowy Owls Sleep?

Snowy Owls Sleep

While most owls are nocturnal, the snowy owls will be active during the day when it’s summer. It’s because they’re native to the Arctic regions. So, they find themselves hunting for food during the daytime.

These owls also live in the trees, hills, and mountains of the North Pole. However, If they find any trees in open areas, it’s primarily preferable anyways. Dense forests, bushes, or shrubs are unlikely to be their sleeping place.

Snowy owls will roost in buildings, specifically old buildings or manmade structures. During the migration, these birds won’t mind having a nest in abandoned buildings. Like most owls, these also sleep for 12 to 15 hours. So, overall, they’re nocturnal birds except in the summertime. 

Where do Owls go during the day?

How do Owls Sleep

As we know owls do not build nests. Some might roost in dense forest areas, while others do it in trees and open areas. The snowy owls love to roost in the open areas such as abandoned buildings.

Most owls find a secluded spot to roost, or rest, during the day. The Great Horned Owl, for example, will roost in dense trees or on cliffs. Some owls will even use the same roosting spot for years.

Some people believe that owls sleep in trees or caves during the day, but this is not always the case. In fact, owls often spend their days perched on high branches, hunting for food. When they are not hunting, they may roost in trees or on the ground.

Do Owls Sleep during the day?

How do Owls Sleep

Yes, owls are nocturnal birds and will sleep during the day. But, they stay busy either mating or hunting for food at night. However, we might wonder about the reason owls stay up at night. 

Experts believe the owls want to avoid competition for food from other creatures. So, they efficiently hunt food at night with minimal competition from other nocturnal animals. But, how do owls sleep in broad daylight? The answer to this is, Owls tend to find a darker and secluded place to sleep peacefully.

During the night, an owl’s eyesight and predatory instincts are sharper. So, these birds are primarily active during the night and sleep during the day. Eagles, hawks, and falcons are raptor family members, including owls. 

However, owls are generally seen napping and resting during the day compared to other raptors. At night, they merely strive to escape competition from other raptors.

Do Owls Sleep at night?

We all know that the owls don’t sleep at night. However, there’re several species of owls. So, the sleeping time might differ in the case of some owls. For example, the snowy owls will sleep at night during the summer.

When it’s summer, the snowy owls will try and hunt for food during the day. But, as these owls live in the arctic regions, the food availability is better when the sun rises. So, these owls will sleep during the day in the summer season.

Owls are known to hunt with no sound. That means they don’t love to pursue food sources when it’s noisy. But, at night, they become alert when the environment is quiet. So, they use their excellent vision and stealth to hunt food.

Considering all the scenarios, the owls don’t sleep at night. Except for snowy owls during summer, the owls aren’t seen napping at night. 

Do Owls sleep with their eyes open?

Do Owls sleep with their eyes open?

No, Owls do not sleep with open eyes. It is a myth surrounding owls. An owl is thought to have fixated eyes rather than eyeballs. They resemble eye tubes more than anything else. Owls have visual acuity, which is similar to human eyesight.

From there, they can see various creatures and structures with both of their eyes. It gives the owl a high level of sensitivity and intelligence. Unfortunately, sclerotic rings in the owl’s skull prevent it from moving its eyes. 

One interesting fact is that the owls have three eyelids. Each of the lids has different functions. For example, the first lid helps them to blink, while the second one keeps their eye tubes clean. However, the third one helps them to sleep. It’s evident that when sleeping, the eyes appear open to us.

How do Young Snow Owls Sleep?

Young snow owls sleep just like other young owls. We’ve already said that the adult owls are more robust and have greater body control. But, in the case of the younger ones, they’re weak. So, they sleep face down.

These young birds have weaker toes, and their heads are heavy. Thus, as a compensatory mechanism, their body is adapted to sleeping face down until they are strong enough to hold their weight on their toes.

Adult owls can hang on the tree branches because they can control their head and body balance upside down. But, baby owls can have body control when lying upright on their back on tree branches. That’s why the baby owls, whether snowy or others, sleep face down, having more excellent body balance.

Final Words

It seems that owls have different sleeping times compared to other raptors. When all raptors sleep at night, the owls stay active and hunt food. Also, the mating time for owls is at night.

We all know these nocturnal birds sleep during the day. However, we’ve discussed owls’ sleeping positions, ways, and places. To conclude, the owls sleep upright on their backs. They’ll usually sleep on their roost, which might be in trees, dense forests, and abandoned buildings. However, the baby owls sleep face down as they’re weaker than the adult ones. We hope now you know, how do owls sleep?

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