Owls usually sleep with their face forward. However, they occasionally turn their heads backward and sleep in tree holes, fractures, cliff ledges, empty houses, and mostly on tree branches. Also, owls avoid sleeping or building a nest in areas with many people, disturbances, activity, predators, or other animals.

Owls also have a unique sleeping pattern. While an owl’s head is quite heavy, and baby owls cannot hold their heads, they sleep face aside (occasionally face down) on their stomach and totally on the front of their body, just like humans who are tired of work.

The owlets gain body endurance as they mature, allowing them to bear the weight of their large head. They sleep tightly gripped on a tree limb facing forward, but sometimes on their stomachs or with their heads backward, as do other birds.

Because owls are nocturnal and require sleep to conserve and sustain energy, they sleep primarily during the day. Owls, like all birds, require a complete 12-hour sleep cycle for their bodies to function correctly. Owls sleep during the day because they are active at night.

While owls were once thought to represent evil spirits, they are today regarded as a symbol of wisdom. Owl statues can be found in a variety of locations. They are beautiful creatures with unique sleeping conditions.

However, sleeping conditions vary from one species to the other. Some animals need more sleeping hours than others, such as lions, who devour meat and need the most comfortable conditions to digest it.

Therefore, lions sleep up to 20 hours in the shade, under trees, or in thick grass. The lions will climb a tree and sleep there if there is a disturbance. Aside from the habitat, food, place where it sleeps, and position in the food chain, like humans, the owl is an animal that needs an average of 8 hours of sleep in a noise-free environment. Owls, like raccoons, have their sleep conditions.

gray owl perching on wooden branch during daytime

Owl’s behavior

Owls are pretty pleased to hang out. They are not busy birds unless they are hunting or feeding their young. They do, however, exhibit certain unusual habits. For example, if a sleeping owl is awakened during the day, it will try blending in with the roosting tree.

This is known as the erect posture. Owls in this posture stretch their necks as far as possible, with their ear tufts standing upright. They will also shut their eyes until they are just slits. They blend almost entirely with the branches while standing perfectly still, tricking potential enemies.

Another intriguing posture they employ is known as the defensive posture. This is most commonly employed by young owls that are not yet able to fly. The owl fluffs its feathers when attacked, making it appear twice as large.

The bird will extend its tail feathers and raise its wings over its back like a huge fan to increase its size. With some bill clicking and hissing, a young owl can appear frightening. Most potential enemies are put off by this posture and quickly leave the young owl alone. Adult birds occasionally use a defensive posture, particularly if the bird is wounded and on the ground.

Several owl species are widely renowned for their young and nest defense. However, when defending their young, great-horned owls, particularly, have a reputation for being ferocious. Intruders will be dive-bombed by the adults, who will hit them with paws and feet. Therefore, ornithologists use extraordinary caution when researching an active great-horned owl nest.

The nightlife


When we think of owls, we imagine them busy at night. But, even among owls, loving the nightlife does not always imply the same thing. Several owls in Idaho are exclusively nocturnal. Barn owls and long-eared owls are exclusively active after dark.

On the other hand, burrowing and pygmy owls are more likely to be diurnal or active during the day. And the great horned owl is crepuscular. As a result, it is most active at dusk and dawn.

Do owls sleep?

You’ve most likely seen or heard of owls at night. However, if you encounter an owl during the day (which is unusual), you may discover its eyes wide, but how is this possible? 

Like food and water, sleep is an essential component of life, whether you are a person or an animal. Of course, the cycle, condition, and position of different organics may differ; cats spend about half of their time resting. But, in general, all living things, including owls, require sleep. Owls, like all birds, require an average of 12 hours of sleep per day, yet unlike other birds, owls sleep during the day.

Owls are nocturnal animals. They sleep during the day and are active at night. Even if owls live far away from humans, you may still find them active if you see owls during the day. When someone or a predator is nearby, owls take short naps and may still be active. Owls, like dolphins, sleep with half of their minds alert and half asleep.

Interestingly, owls have many predators, and because owls hunt other owls, they are their predators. As a result, they may not fall into a deep sleep and remain half-awake. They would sometimes sleep through the entire day.

How do owls sleep?

Owls, especially owlets, have unusual sleeping habits. While owls do not sleep at night, they sleep uniquely during the day.

An owl sleeps the same way as other birds do, with his head forward, standing on one or both legs, gripping and holding his claw on a tree branch. Baby owls, on the other hand, sleep unusually and uniquely.

Because their heads are too heavy to hold up, baby owls sleep face down or face on their belly, just like a sleepy person. These tiny birds can’t hold their heads when they’re born, juvenile, or young, and they can’t hold them until they’re fully adult. However, they will sleep heads up once they have gained strength and control over their bodies.

How do baby owls sleep??

Do you know the difference between owls’ sleeping patterns and other birds? Other birds have plain, round faces with no ear tufts, whereas owls have facial disks. So owls’ sleeping mechanisms are pretty different.

As owls grow and mature, they gain strength and endurance, allowing them to support their disk faces’ weight. On the other hand, nurturing or developing owls are weak and gain strength by passing the time. As a result, they have to lie down to control the weight of their faces.

Where do owls sleep?

Owls, unlike most birds, do not live or sleep together. Instead, owls sleep alone and do their activities alone, rather than in groups. In the winter, some owl species sleep in groups, but most of them sleep alone.

During the breeding season, owls sleep alone, close to the nest on a tree branch. Aside from it, owls sleep in different places. Owls usually sleep on tree branches, although they also sleep in hollow trees, chimneys, empty buildings, fissures, and other areas.

However, owls rarely sleep in the nest; they sleep near or around the nest during the breeding season but not inside. Owls are excellent predators but poor nest builders, so they do not build their nests and instead prey on the nests of hawks, falcons, eagles, and other animals. The roost is the name given to an owl’s sleeping quarters.

When do owls go to sleep?

Unlike typical sleeping cycles, owls sleep during the day and are active at night. When dusk falls, the nocturnal animals begin their day, and owls also become active. Owls are nocturnal animals, yet they are very conscious during the day. They can hear even the slightest sound and rotate their heads up to 270 degrees.

However, they take short naps during the day, but, strangely, they fall asleep very quickly, even in 11 seconds, and, like dolphins, they sleep with one side of the brain while keeping the other half awake. In this manner, they can sleep while yet remaining alert to predators.

How much sleep do owls get?

While owls appear to be restless, they, too, require sleep, albeit at different times. Owls, like most birds, require an average of 12 hours of sleep per day, similar to pigeons, chickens, and parrots, but they sleep every day.

In what positions do owls sleep?

How do owls sleep? In general, like all other birds? However, experts believe the bay owls’ facial disks are overly hefty, forcing them to sleep differently than other birds. Even when sleeping in a position similar to other birds, they cannot tuck their heads under the feathers as other birds do. Instead, they must sleep by simply closing their eyes.

According to some studies, the sleeping patterns of infant owls are similar to those of mammals, and as mammals grow older, they become less inclined to sleep. The owls experience the same phenomenon.

A group of experts investigating barn owl sleeping patterns discovered this study. Scientists discovered that most of their sleeping habits are linked to the gene that causes dark-pigmented spots on their bodies.

Covarying refers to the presence of these dark spots in adult owls. It is a feature associated with owl adolescence, contributing to their personality and behavioral traits. These data led the scientists to think there was a link between melanism and owls’ sleeping patterns.

Do owls sleep when they lie down?

selective focus photo of owl

Because baby owls have larger facial disks and lack the strength to support the weight of their faces, they cannot sleep with their faces upright. As a result, extremely young baby owls must sleep with their faces stuffed into the ground and their feet held apart.

To the untrained eye, it appears to be a lifeless posture, yet they are not. It’s just their regular sleeping pattern. Furthermore, even as adults, they cannot tuck their faces into their back feathers as most birds do since their eyes are located in front of their mouth, and owls have stationary eyes. Thus they sleep by just shutting their eyes.

Do owls sleep while standing?

Adult and younger owls can sleep by just shutting their eyes while standing. They secure their claws and nails to the limb or perch on what they are standing, with two toes facing forward and one bent backward, providing a tight grasp for the owl. The hallux does not open until the owl flexes its leg. Therefore it is similar to a locked position.

Do owls sleep upside down?

What kind of sleep do owls get? Most owls, like bats, are nocturnal animals. As a result, most people believe that they sleep in an upside-down posture, similar to bats, yet this is almost hard for owls to do.

Why? Because their skulls contain far too many facial discs for them to sleep in this position. As a result, they have evolved with time, and rather than sleeping upside down, they like to sleep in a lying position until they reach maturity. Then, they sleep upright with their eyes closed once they have grown the strength to support their facial weight.

Where do owls sleep during the day?

Owls have their own set of sleeping hours. There are approximately 250 species of owls, and just a few of them sleep at night and are active during the day, but most are nocturnal. In addition to their odd sleeping hours, they also sleep in odd places.

During the day, owls sleep away from disturbances, typically on trees and hollow trees, abandoned places, and cliff ledges. They can also be found in trees and around nest boxes, but not in nests. However, a mother owl may sleep with her owlets in the nest. 

Do owls migrate?

Owls are carnivores that rely on rodents and other creatures such as lizards, snakes, rabbits, and fish for food. Owls do not migrate until they run out of food or if it is hard to find. They save food for the winter and do not migrate during the winter, when rodents and other animals spend much of their time in their nests or burrows, just like squirrels.

Do owls sleep at night?

The majority of owls do not sleep at night. However, only a few owl species sleep during the night. Except for a few species, owls are awake the entire night hunting and never sleep. They will occasionally hunt during the day and can be seen doing so.

The best time to see owls is late at night when everyone else is sleeping, but nocturnal animals are active. They eat nocturnal animals and hunt very discreetly since they are nocturnal. They hunt with stealth rather than speed, which is their ability.

Unlike eagles and falcons, which are speedy and hunt with their speed, owls have excellent night vision and hearing, but more significantly, they are sly and reticent, making no noise compared to eagles and falcons. This means they hunt so quietly that their target isn’t even aware of it.

Is it possible to keep an owl as a pet?

Although owls are friendly and calm animals, they are not suitable pets. While keeping an owl as a pet is forbidden, it has no history of being a pet and is most likely a wild predatory animal. Despite this, owls are not pets and cannot be petted.

To begin with, they are awake at night yet sleep during the day. They sleep in various places, including uninhabited areas, forests, and abandoned buildings.

Their diet consists primarily of rodents, comparable to raccoons, who eat meat and everything. However, they mostly eat meat and eat up to 1,000 mice annually, offering natural pest control. But it’s not so much fun after they’ve finished all the rodents and you have to feed them meat daily. Owls can also attack people, and instances of owl attacks have been reported. They bite so fiercely that they can’t be separated from the meat. So keep your distance and be curious!

Is it true that all owls are nocturnal?

The ubiquitous term “Night Owl” fosters many misconceptions about owls. For example, most people believe that when the moon shines, all owls become active. That, however, is not the case.

Based on their sleeping habits, owls are classified into three types:

  • Nocturnal owls
  • Crepuscular owls 
  • Diurnal owls

The most well-known are nocturnal owls. They are the ones who are most active at night. They hunt and go about their regular lives at night. During the day, you can find them sleeping on a limb or roosting somewhere.

Diurnal owls are the inverse. They are the most active owls during the day. However, like other animals, they sleep and replenish their energy at night.

Crepuscular owls spend most of their time awake between twilight and morning. However, they hunt both during the day and at night.

While most owls remain nocturnal, two species are genuinely diurnal.

Northern hawk owls

Northern hawk owls

Northern hawk owls can be found in North America and Asia far north. They have similar hunting skills as hawks and falcons. They are tenacious hunters sitting high in the branches, waiting for food. They may also hunt in the winter, hunting animals buried beneath the snow. They can even catch prey in mid-air if necessary.

Northern pygmy owls

Northern pygmy owls

These are more common on the west coast of North America. Most are visible throughout the day, mainly when the sky is cloudy. They can bob their heads at the very tops of trees and swing their tails. They, too, have hunting abilities similar to hawks and falcons. However, they can put up a fight with northern hawk owls.

Crepuscular owls include the following species:

  • Short-eared owls
  • Snowy owls
  • Great horned owls
  • Great grey owls
  • Burrowing owls

According to a study, 69 percent of owls are nocturnal, 22 percent are crepuscular, and only 3 percent are diurnal. Despite this fact, owls are still classified as nocturnal animals.

What is the difference between diurnal, nocturnal, and crepuscular owls?

There is one guaranteed way to determine if an owl is diurnal, nocturnal, or crepuscular. All you have to do is look at its eyes.

Dark eyes

Owls with dark eyes are nocturnal. They love to hunt at night and can capture their prey in absolute darkness. Their eyes do not help them see their prey; instead, they camouflage them in the dark.

white and brown barn owl on yellow petaled flower field

Spotting an owl with dark eyes during the day is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should be savored.

Dark-eyed owls include the following:

  • Northern spotted owls
  • Barred owls
  • Barn owls

Orange eyes

Crepuscular owls have orange eyes. The twilight owls are what they’re called. They prefer to find their prey in the early morning light.

Orange-eyed species include:

  • Great horned owls
  • Eurasian eagle-owls

Yellow eyes

Look for yellow eyes if you’re looking for owls during the day. They love to hunt while the sun is shining. They have a superb vision but depend on their hearing to find their prey beneath the snow. As a result, they are among the hardiest owl species.

brown and white owl in close up photography

Some owl species include:

  • Great grey owls
  • Snowy owls
  • Burrowing owls

How to find an owl

Owls are notoriously difficult to find. This is due to their preference for solitude. In addition, they dislike being bothered by the noises that people make. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for owls:

The ideal time to see an owl is at dusk. Face the sky where the sun sets and look for the owl’s silhouette.

Pellets can be used to know where owls roost. Owls excrete pellets. These are their prey’s bones and tissues, which their bodies cannot digest. Therefore, owls roost when there are pellets on the ground.

Go to the place where their food is. If you know where smaller animals congregate, you can almost always find an owl sitting high up on a tree, ready to attack.

Cemeteries are excellent places to see owls. They have all of the owl’s needs and are known to be frequented by them. Remember, though, to respect people mourning in that area.

Keep honing your night vision. It is usual not to see any owls on your first owling trip. However, the more you practice, the better you will get.

Owls in legend and myth

From ancient times to the present, owls appear in many different cultures’ tales. Pallas Athene and Minerva, the Greek and Roman goddesses of wisdom were frequently depicted with an owl. Owls were associated with lightning and thunder in China. A dead owl was considered to ward off hail, lightning, and sickness in Europe for a long time.

In some cultures, owls were associated with death positively and negatively. For example, owls were thought to be an omen of death by several North American Indian groups. Other tribes believed that owls were soul-bearers who carried the spirits of the deceased to the afterlife.

This notion can be seen in several old oriental cultures as well. For example, the Dakota tribe’s Hidatsa people called the owl the “keeper of game spirit,” who kept an eye on the bison herds. In addition, the burrowing owl was revered as the protective spirit of this tribe’s warriors.

We now see owls in movies like “Hoot” and read about them in books. Many children’s stories feature the Winnie-the-Pooh’s giving advice”, while in “Wise Old Owl.” Harry Potter’s owls deliver mail. Guardians of Ga’hoole is a popular owl-themed children’s book series among upper elementary readers. In “Owl Moon,” many pretty young readers study great-horned owls. You might be amazed at how many owls you can find if you look around!