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Owl Resting Patterns: How Do Owls Sleep?

How Do Owls Sleep

Owl is known as a night knight in the world of birds. Most birds work all day and go to their nest to nap and get ready for the next day. But owls work just opposite from other birds; they stay awake at night and sleep in warm daylight.

So, how do owls sleep? An owl is in the order Strigiformes; they have quite a different pattern of sleep than other birds. Most of the owls sleep standing up, which, in human words, is known as the attention pose. They search hollow trees or crevice places to sleep.

Owls’ sleeping is an interesting thing, which can make you amazed and make you more curious to know more about these species. There are some interesting facts and rules you can find while you go deep on this topic.

Owl Resting Patterns: How Do Owls Sleep?

Owl Resting Patterns

Owl is a prey bird who likes to hunt down and live their life. But they hunt at the time of night when everything is dark and quiet. Quietness is their power. 

As their lifestyle is different from other animals, their sleep pattern also differs significantly from other birds. 

In Owl’s history, there are two types of sleep patterns which have been found. One is applicable when an owl is a baby, and another type is suitable for adult owls.

Baby Owls’ Sleeping Pattern

Like human babies, infant owls sleep face down on their bellies, with their heads resting on the trees or other structures they are lying on. This is because owls still lack strong neck muscles, and their heads are relatively heavy, making it difficult for them to hold them up while they sleep.

See the following video on how baby owls sleep. 

Adult Owls’ Sleeping Pattern

Mature owls can sleep with their heads up while standing on one or both legs once they’ve grown a little and developed additional muscle. They secure themselves to the branch they are resting on using their powerful claws.

See also:  Avian Diets: Do Owls Eat Ducks?

Owls usually do not tuck their heads under their wings, in contrast to other birds. This is due to the Owl’s unique head shape, which sets it apart from many other bird species. Thus, when an adult owl is perched on a branch or other structure, they usually only close their eyes to sleep.

Adult Owls Sleeping Pattern

While they sleep, their heads will usually be turned forward, although occasionally, they may turn their heads back.

Places Where The Owls Sleep

Owls are solitude lovers of birds; they love to live alone and hunt around. For that, they do not make any nest or a home for two. They hunt and search quiet and close places to take a nap. 

Cave-type trees, tree buckles, and ground are some common places where you will find them sleeping and waiting for the night. But there are some variations, which you can see during the change in monsoon. 

Places Where The Owls Sleep

In the Rainy season

Owls typically seek protected spots to roost in so they won’t get wet in the rain. In open grassland environments, certain species, such as short-eared owls, spend the night on the ground. 

In wet weather, these birds either relocate to the canopy of adjacent trees or sit it out.

The Winter Season

Barred owls and other resident and territorial owl species can roost at the exact location year-round. There are also great horned owls, but they are unique in building their nests in the winter. Both parents can be seen roosting near the nest site during this period.

Owls Sleeping Winter Season

The Sunny Season

Owls are habituated to sleep in the sun, so they do not make a new home during the sunny days. But they always search for calm and places in the deep so they can sleep peacefully. 

See also:  Night Feeders: Do Owls Eat Bats?

A List Of Owl Species And Their Unique Sleeping Positions and Common Locations

Owl Species

Here is a list of owl species’ sleeping patterns and locations. 

SpeciesUnique Sleeping PositionLocation
Burrowing OwlSleeping face downIn a burrow dug into the ground
Northern Pygmy OwlSleeping eyes openIn trees with natural holes or woodpecker holes
Barn OwlSleeping upside downIn tree hollows, caves, or old buildings
Long-eared OwlSleeping in a hunched positionIn dense foliage, like evergreen trees
Elf OwlSleeping in a vertical positionIn tree cavities or saguaro cacti


Let’s see some frequently asked queries and their answers regarding owls’ sleep patterns. 

Q: How long does an owl need to sleep?

They spend 10 to 12 hours a day sleeping on average. They try to choose a safe roosting spot, usually high up in tree branches, away from potential disturbances. Owls hunt and locate prey by using their exceptional hearing and night vision.

Q: Can owls maintain an open eye during sleep?

Owls and other nocturnal birds frequently sleep with their eyes open. They can remain alert about any environmental threats or dangers because of this habit.

Q: When owls go to sleep, do they dream?

A: New research reveals that, at least during adulthood, baby owls and mammals, including humans, sleep. Similarly, spending a comparable amount of time in an awake-like phase known as REM (rapid-eye movement), during which dreams are assumed to occur. Age-related reductions in REM sleep are observed in both humans and owls.

In The Sleepy End

The sleeping habits of owls are braided with their nocturnal lifestyle and survival strategies. Owls, being primarily nocturnal creatures, rest or sleep during the day in well-hidden, sheltered spots. 

Their ability to sleep allows them to maintain attention while resting, ensuring they can quickly respond to potential threats or opportunities. Short, intermittent sleep periods enable them to save energy while remaining alert for hunting and avoiding predators. 

These Owl Resting Patterns: How Do Owls Sleep? Reflect the remarkable adaptations of owls to their environment, aiding their survival in various habitats and contributing to their success as proficient nocturnal predators.


Peter Kaestner

Hi there, my name is Peter Kaestner and I am the owner of As a avid bird watcher and enthusiast with a passion for ornithology, I want to share my knowledge and experience with other bird lovers through this blog. As someone who regularly participates in bird-related forums and groups online, I am dedicated to helping others learn more about these amazing creatures. However, it's important to note that while I am happy to share my expertise and advice, it is always crucial to consult with an avian veterinarian before making any decisions that could potentially impact your bird's health or well-being. Your bird's health and happiness should always be your top priority, and consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that you are making informed decisions on their behalf. I hope that through my blog, I can help make a positive difference in the lives of birds and the people who care for them. Whether you are an experienced bird owner or just starting out, I encourage you to use this resource as a way to learn more about these fascinating animals and how to provide them with the best possible care.View Author posts