Ignorance fought: birds don't sleep in their nests

Slate magazine article:

The Biggest Misconception about Birds

I didn’t know about the semi-hemispheric sleep ability of birds except the image of a roosting owl with one eye open. Do they alternate which eye they keep open? I knew they don’t sleep in their chicks’ nests though. Most of the ducks and geese around here sleep in the water or nearby ground.

I think everyone did. The thread is very politely quiet. :smiley:

I didn’t. I guess I hadn’t really thought about it. Cool article.

I always thought that at least one parent stayed on top of the nest to keep the chicks warm. And I did also think that they slept in their nests. Huh.

That’s neat to know - I have a pair of little finches that nest in my front porch light every year and raise their chicks. I’ve always thought that they were weird little birds because the parents take turns sitting on the nest until chicks hatch but then they are never there except to bring food. They will often sit in the baby maple trees in the front yard and look towards the nest, and sometimes perch up above my front door to watch it, but always disappear elsewhere for sleep time. I always thought that was weird - I learned something! :slight_smile:

Ditto. I never it gave it much thought, but if someone had asked me is have thought they did. Cool!

birds do catch a little shut eye.

Ignorance fought. I’ll admit to not knowing that.

Cool article.

That’s true. The article is flat-out wrong in implying that birds almost never sleep in their nests. During the breeding season, virtually all birds sleep on the nest while brooding the eggs and chicks. (Sometimes only the female incubates, sometimes the duty is shared by the male.) Many birds that nest in cavities will use the nest cavity as a roost year round. And some species, such a Song Wrens, make separate nests for breeding and dormitory nests where all the members of a family group sleep at night.

While the article is correct to some extent in that most birds don’t sleep in the nest outside the breeding season, it overstates the case and is very misleading. In an attempt to correct a misconception, it is creating a new one.