When they’re awake, we see and hear birds flying all around us. Sometimes, we can’t help but wonder how they sleep after their long day. A lot of people believe in a common myth that birds will eventually get back to their nests to retire. Despite this popular belief, birds rarely get to sleep in their nests.
Birds usually sleep in their nests when they’re babies or whenever the night’s too cold to spend alone, and their adult parents have to warm them up by cuddling them. These nests are usually meant for chicks to hatch in and to develop in. When the season comes to an end, the nests are usually filled with spilled food, bird poo, and sometimes even a dead chick. The birds then fly away and abandon them.
A night of good sleep for birds is all about warmth and safety depending on its size and nature. For little songbirds, ground sleeping will be a risk for them since a cat will find them. An exposed branch would also be a risk cause an owl might get to them. For these birds, they hide behind foliage or inside the dense brush. On the other hand, waterfowl like geese and ducks find it impossible to sleep in trees due to their webbed feet. In the case of a predator, they’re too clumsy and slow to take off hence can’t sleep safely on the ground. So, they opt-in sleeping on water or a small island. Eagles and hawks don’t have to scare them since they also sleep during the night. Geese and ducks can sense water vibrations, produced by predators swimming to their direction.
The majority of the birds turn off one part of their brain. Unlike humans, information received from a bird’s eye is sent only to the brain located on the opposite side. For a safe sleep at night, birds can leave one eye open while the corresponding brain is fully alert and awake. They can switch this on and off based on the situations. Grouse and quail are poor at flying, but fat and yummy; this makes a target for all creatures. For a good night, they opt for the densest camouflage.
All other birds such as starlings, swifts, swallows, and crows share great communal roosting behaviors. A few of them come together in large flocks, especially during dusk, in search of safety in numbers. There’re no birds that bring trouble to the large predators such as eagles, hawks and owls. These birds stay safe so long as they keep off the ground.
Most of the birds are considered perching birds, this includes cardinals, warblers, jays, and sparrows. This means that when it’s just about dusk, they locate a branch and grab it using their clawed feet. Their legs have unique flexor tendons that allow them to automatically hold firmly onto a branch. For as long as they bend their legs, they’re physically tightened onto the specific branch. This enables them to peacefully sleep through the night.