As humans we take for granted when we are tired we just put on our pajamas, climb into a nice warm bed and conk out for about 8 eight hours. Birds donít have this luxury. These tiny creatures must always be alert as there are so many predators out to get them.
Always needing to stay vigilant, some birds rarely get much sleep. Many birds sleep in flocks where they have the protection of the group. Usually one or a few birds will stay awake on the lookout for danger.
How do they sleep? Although it depends on the species, most sleep while standing or perched on a branch. Most sleep with the head turned and laying on the shoulder and the bill tucked among fluffed up back plumage. They also fluff out their feathers to keep warm.
Still others have found a more comfortable way to sleep. In Britain, for example, Tree creepers discovered the comfort of the Redwoods. These trees have very soft barks Ė perfect for a good nightís sleep. Using their feet the birds carve out a small hollow and lie in it.
The location of where they sleep is just as important as how birds sleep. As mentioned earlier there should be protection against enemies. Raccoons, snakes, crows, cats, all kinds of things can get them while they are sleeping and only half-aware. But in addition they need protection from the elements as well.
In bitter cold temperatures, birds can even face the possibility of freezing to death. To offset this there are several things they can do.
- One is to have accumulated enough fat from daytime feeding activities to maintain their metabolism through the night.
- They can also drop their temperature as much as 20 degrees.
- Huddling together helps too. By doing this, the greatly decrease the amount of body heat lost than if they were by themselves.
As cities, tend to be a bit warmer than the urban areas, some birds enjoy sleeping in here. For loners, birds like to perch near neon signs and street lamps, not for the light but for the heat they give off.
There is one bird in particular that puzzles researchers all over- Swifts. Day and night these birds are constantly moving. The question is how to the fly and avoid colliding with other birds or into buildings, etc.?