How Do Birds Sleep?

When birds disappear at night, where and how do they sleep? Learn how sleep in birds is quite different from what humans do.

October 22, 2020

Listen to the Episode

How Do Birds Sleep?


When birds disappear at night, where do they go and what are they doing? Most of them are sleeping, of course. But sleep in birds differs greatly from what you and I do.

In this episode, we discuss the most important functions of sleep in birds. Then we get into the evolution of sleep in birds.

Along the way, we’ll talk about the similarities and differences of sleep between birds and mammals like us.

Last, we cover where and how birds sleep, regarding location, posture, etc.

Links to Some Things Mentioned in this Episode

Photos of some birds mentioned

Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata), a model species for bird research. Native to Australia. (Photo: public domain)
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) sleeping. (Photo: public domain)
Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos). (Photo: Andreas Trempte)

Research Citations

Errors and Clarifications

  • I said that the fossil of the bird-like dinosaur Mei Long (“Sleeping Dragon”) was discovered in 2010. It was actually discovered in 2004

This work by Ivan Phillipsen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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