Where Do Birds Sleep

Where Do Birds Sleep?

Most wild birds sleep in the highest trees they can find, many sleep in clusters to keep warm, and safe from predators. Many small birds perch as close to the trunk of the tree as they can to hide from the worst of the weather and make the most of any residual heat from any earlier sunlight. 

Others take advantage of birdhouses and nesting boxes. Others hide in barns, under the eaves of buildings. Ducks and other waterfowl sleep whilst floating in the water. Wading birds like egrets and herons sleep either standing in water or on the land.

Do Birds Sleep In Nests?

Birds do sleep in nests but only while they’re protecting their eggs or young chicks. The eggs and the chicks need warmth, and the parent provides this warmth, even though they often get cold themselves. But as soon as the young leave the nests, so do the adults.

Bird Nest with Eggs

Why Do Birds Sing At Night?

This all depends on what you call night really, you see many birds awaken just before dawn and start singing. Now in the Summer that might mean the birds are singing at 4 am and to us that’s still night, but to them, it’s the start of another day. There are other reasons birds sing at night, say for instance you are trying to win your mate, and all you have is your voice to win them with. Well that’s how it is for some birds, so they sing at night to try to impress their would be mate.

Other birds could be migrating and they will be singing to make sure they are all accounted for. Sometimes, birds get woken up by our lights and get confused and think it’s morning and that can start them off singing too.

Where Do Birds Go When The Weather Turns Bad?

Many birds have some sort of early warning system and fly far away when the weather turns really bad. For instance during hurricanes many birds disappear, or those that don’t, hide in old buildings or in deep thickets of woodland. In snowy conditions, any birds that haven’t migrated, hide away in old barns or all huddle together in trees to conserve body heat. 

Why Do Some Birds Stay Awake At Night?


The birds that stay awake at night, nocturnal birds, are hunters, and they eat mice and other small rodents. Some eat moths and other nocturnal insects. Nocturnal birds include owls, night-herons and nighthawks. These birds hide away during daylight hours and sleep very lightly almost with one eye open, in case of predators.

When Do Birds Go To Sleep?

Diurnal birds or birds that are awake during daylight hours sleep as soon as the sun goes down. Although many are affected by artificial lighting just as we are. Nocturnal birds on the other hand, are awake all night, and find somewhere quiet to sleep during the daytime. It seems that all birds, from the smallest hummingbird to the largest albatross or eagle never sleep fully.

They always sleep with one eye open, in case of predator attack or in case they can spot a smaller bird they can prey upon. So birds never fully sleep and yet they need 12 hours of undisturbed sleep to stay healthy. Many birds huddle into large groups, fluff up their feathers, and fall asleep. They fluff their feathers to catch more air just like soldiers wear multiple layers of thin clothes to keep warm.

They trap the air in between layers of feathers to keep warm. That’s why it’s vitally important that birds keep their feathers in tip-top condition. So take care what food you put out for birds. If you are not sure what is best for the bird table check out our article all about how to make fat balls for birds It is full of interesting information that is vital for bird health. 

Some Interesting Facts About The Sleeping Habits Of Birds

The  majority of birds sleep while sitting up on the perch, however there are certain varieties of birds like woodpeckers and treecreepers that sleep vertically on three trunks. Others like swifts, sleep whilst flying! But the weirdest group of sleeping birds has to be the parrots of the Loriculus group that sleep by hanging upside down just like bats. 

Although birds need to sleep like we do there is some discrepancy as to the amount of sleep birds need. There is a school of thought that states birds need 12 hours sleep per night, and others that claim as some birds fly to the arctic circle that has a period where it doesn’t get dark at all, they can get by with much less than 12 hours. There is a robin near our home that appears to be singing for 24 hours a day. It seems to nest near a street light so it doesn’t appear to know when night time is.

Due to these rare activities, some scientists are having to rethink the way birds sleep, or at least review the hours spent sleeping. They have discovered that birds that perch while they sleep, have developed a form of tendons that automatically grab the perch, as soon as the bird squats to relax, and the tendons will not move until the bird sits up straight, their involuntary  grip is so strong that many varieties of birds have been spotted hanging upside down.


Unihemispheric Slow-Wave Sleep

This process is where one half of the brain stays awake during sleep and is common amongst birds. Unihemispheric slow-wave sleep keeps birds alert enough to recognise any potential dangers whilst still getting some sleep. Birds can control how awake or asleep the inactive part of their brain is by how wide or narrow their open eye is. This type of sleeping pattern is also used by migrating birds who travel over many thousands of miles of empty ocean. This is why they fly in a “V” formation, the leader has to remain fully awake, but many of the rest of the pack can practise unihemispheric slow-wave sleep.

Ducks and other waterfowl also practise unihemispheric slow-wave sleep to literally keep an eye out for danger from predators.

How Do Birds Keep Warm At Night?

On cold Winter’s nights when the temperature drops way below freezing, birds fluff up their feathers to create air pockets that trap warmth. And their exposed areas like their feet have extra blood vessels that prevent them from freezing. Birds also tuck their beaks into their wings so that they are breathing warm air.   

If they happen to be nesting and get caught out by a late frost, they will spread themselves out to cover the eggs or young birds and protect them from the weather. Pigeons and doves have developed a way of lowering their metabolic rate to reduce energy loss. This state of semi-hibernation keeps them warm enough to survive the cold nights.


Where Do Seabirds Go At Night?

Unlike ducks and other waterfowl that sleep whilst floating, seabirds like gulls spend their nights on open rock faces or on the beach or even on open land near the sea, As beaches tend to be quiet places of a night, seabirds usually remain undisturbed until morning when they fly off in search of food to sustain them through another day.

Those that live further out to sea on uninhabited islands either roost on the ground, in cliff faces or sometimes they sleep while floating.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many hours do birds sleep?

If left undisturbed, birds usually sleep from sunset to sunrise. So the amount of sleep varies according to the time of year.

Can birds sleep while flying?

Birds can sleep while flying, they fly in a “V” formation, which allows the ones at the front to remain fully awake whilst the rest of the pack practise unihemispheric slow-wave sleep which allows them to be half asleep but awake enough to follow the leading birds.

When do birds wake up?

Diurnal birds wake just before sunrise and create what is known as the dawn chorus.