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How Do Bird Sleep?

Birds like to sleep at night just like us, but they don't lay down on pillows and get under the blankets. Find out how birds sleep, and where they sleep in this article.

Katie ten Hagen

Ducorp's Cockatoo

Pet birds sleep at the same time you do — at night! They sleep a bit more than we do though. In the wild, birds sleep when the sun sets and wake up when it rises, making their natural sleep cycle about 10 to 12 hours.

Birds sleep sitting up, usually on a perch. Birds normally lift one leg up into their feathers when they are resting. Many people just think flamingos do this, but many birds do it — it’s just more obvious with flamingos, since they have such long legs.

Birds close their eyes and fluff up their feathers to insulate themselves. Birds frequently turn their head around and nestle it between their wings to sleep too, like they’re making their own feathers their pillow. It’s not uncommon for them to rest with their head facing forward and just pulled down towards their shoulders.

Birds normally lift one leg up into their feathers when they are resting.

Where Do Birds Sleep?
Most birds sleep on the highest perch in the cage. Because of this, you should be careful what you put as the highest perching surface in the cage. I once had a little toy hanging about 2 inches from the roof of my bird’s cage, and the top of the toy was just barely wide and flat enough for my cockatiel to climb on top and cram herself in that little space for the night. I removed it so that she would sleep somewhere more comfortable.

Some pet birds like to sleep in tents or other spaces. Conures and lovebirds in particular seem to be especially fond of sleeping tents. Be cautious when using these though: birds have been known to chew these up and get tangled in them. Hormonal birds, especially females, will also sometimes get territorial and aggressive of a small space they perceive as a nest. It can also stimulate them to lay eggs, which can very taxing on a female bird’s body.

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Posted: February 13, 2014, 5:00 p.m. PDT

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