• When birds sleep, they protect vulnerable body parts by burying them in their feathers. 
  • A bird’s feathers create insulating air pockets that help it keep warm, and by tucking feet or the bill into the feathers, less body heat is lost. 
  • When a bird’s bill is buried deeply in its feathers, it is also able to breathe air warmed by its own body heat. 
  • Another adaptation birds have for safe sleep is the construction of their feet and legs. 
  • A flexor tendon contracts the bird’s toes and talons when the legs are bent, such as when a bird is nestled down for roosting. 
  • This means the automatic, at rest position of the foot is for the talons to be tightly locked around a perch, making it impossible for the bird to fall while sleeping. 
  • The tendon only releases when the bird voluntarily straightens its legs, as it would for taking off. 
  • There is little data available about how long birds sleep at once, but studies indicate that birds may sleep longer during longer nights. 
  • This may be because diurnal birds are not able to forage or engage in other activities without sufficient light, and so sleeping is the next natural item on their to-do lists. 
  • Birds are able to “power nap” during the day, however, and can catch up on sleep on longer days whenever they are in a safe, secure spot. 
  • Help Birds Get a Good Night’s Sleep 
  • Sleeping can be hazardous for birds, making them more vulnerable to predators. 
  • Birders can help all birds get a good night’s sleep, however, with several easy steps. 
  • Create a bird-friendly landscape that includes great shelter for sleeping, such as a brush pile, native coniferous trees, or roosting boxes. 
  • Discourage feral cats and other predators that can threaten sleeping birds, as well as protect birdhouses and roosting boxes from predators. 
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