I know it sounds like a silly question, but how do owls sleep?
Owls are birds of prey.
Their diet often consists of small mammals such as rabbits and mice.
Because of this, they need to be able to see well during the night (when their prey is most active).
The outer shell of an owl’s eye is shaped like a tube.
This helps to prevent light from entering the eye, so the owl can see in low-light conditions.
An owl cannot get water in its eyes because of this shape.
Some owls have facial disks to help them hear sounds coming from below.
Their ears are asymmetrical (not directional) so they can pinpoint the location of prey.
How Owls Sleep
Since owls are nocturnal, they must sleep during the day.
To protect their eyes, they roll them back into their head, exposing only the bony area around the eyes.
They fold over themselves to create a protective layer where their feathers lie on top of each other.
Owls tuck their legs underneath them while resting while their beaks point down and slightly forward.
The position of the bill allows an owl to breathe while remaining almost completely still during sleep.
Some species of owl can rotate their heads 270° in each direction to help them see, even with their eyes closed.
When they’re not roosting or catching prey, owls can sometimes be found resting in trees.
Some scientists believe that owls can sleep while perched, but others disagree.
It is much more likely that they are simply resting, rather than sleeping.
Owls in the Wild
Birds of prey often meet their energy needs during one feeding event each day.
So, even the most active of the nocturnal birds need only a few hours to catch prey, eat it and digest it before the next night.
Some owls, like barn owls (Tyto alba), will sleep in groups.
This is especially true during mating season.
The benefits of sleeping together include increased body heat retention, reduced vigilance at their nesting site, and ease of moving around without disturbing one another when hunting for food.
Where Do Owls Sleep?
In general, owls tend to sleep in the same place every day.
Some species even return after a long absence to their old roosting sites.
In fact, not all owls need trees in order to roost.
Pelicans and storks prefer large bodies of water for this purpose because it keeps them above the ground where predators are more likely to be.
Barn Owls tend to look for warmer spots to sleep during the winter months, like roofs or inside farm sheds with big doors that are left open.
Snowy owls (Bubo scandiacus) often head south in the winter because there is less food up north.
They will even move into barns and other buildings.
Barn owls sleep for an average of 14 hours each day.
If the weather is warmer, they will hunt more often and spend less time sleeping.
Some owls share roosting sites with one another, but it is not common behavior among them.
They may also sleep in very different positions from those described above.
For instance, some owls have been spotted sleeping with their wings stretched out to their sides while others found sleeping in more rolls.
But for the most part, owls sleep in highly similar ways on a daily basis.
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