Why Do Owls Sleep During The Day? (Explained)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

The simple reason owls sleep during the day is because most owls are nocturnal.

This essentially means they sleep during the day and stay awake at night, however, does not apply to all species of owls.

Owls are impressive and majestic birds that have unique sleeping habits and that’s what we are going to explore in this article.

Like we all know sleep is essential for any animal, including humans. It is one of the things they must do to be alive, much like consuming food or water.

Why do owls sleep during the day?

Why Do Owls Sleep During The Day

According to research, most owls are nocturnal and this is why they sleep during the day.

They are usually awake throughout the night hunting and doing other things so they need to sleep for at least twelve hours in the day to rejuvenate and function well.

It is however not right to hastily generalize that all owls are nocturnal.

Data shows that sixty-nine percent of owls are nocturnal; that is they sleep during the day and are active at night.

Three percent of owls are Diurnal; that is they are active during the day and sleep or rest during the night.

Twenty-two percent of owls are crepuscular; that means they are active at twilight times like dawn and dusk but are not active during the day and night.

There are several ways to know if a particular owl is nocturnal or not. The point however is not all owls are nocturnal.

Though by the data available most owls are nocturnal so it is safe to call owls Predominantly nocturnal animals.

Where do owls sleep during the day?

Because of nature, they don’t sleep in crowded places.

It would be hard for a nocturnal animal to sleep during the day close to where a lot of activities are going on.

During the day owls sleep on branches of trees (this is also referred to as roosting).

For owls that live in developed areas, you could find them sleeping in chimneys, on poles, or abandoned buildings.

Diurnal owls have access to more places to sleep because they sleep at night.

Generally, you can find owls sleeping in trees, on ledges, cliffs, fractures, cavities.

Places that are crowded are usually avoided by owls, this includes places that people work, places with a lot of disturbances, and a lot of other animals.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on owls attacking humans

Do owls actually sleep during the day?

Yes, owls actually sleep during the day, they are referred to as nocturnal animals because of this.

Owls usually sleep during the day and work at night, of course, this doesn’t mean that owls do not sleep at night or there are no owls that work during the day.

It is often ill-advised to generalize these kinds of things because the Animal Kingdom is so complex that even within species there are subspecies that have almost identical looks but vastly different characteristics and behaviors.

When it comes to owls and their sleeping behaviors it would be greatly disadvantageous for you to assume that all owls are the same or have the same sleeping behaviors.

Most owls sleep during the day and are awake at night because they are nocturnal.

However, the owls that sleep at night and stay awake during the day are called diurnal owls.

What do owls do during the day?

owls do several things during the day, what they do during the day greatly depends on the type of owl in question. Below are some of the things that owls do during the day.

  • Sleep: Most owls are nocturnal so they spend most of the day sleeping. Hours like most birds need at least 12 hours of sleep, this helps their body function well because the lifestyle of an average bird is very Demanding. During their active hours most birds like owls Source for food, shelter, water, and other essentials.  this inadvertently leads to them expending so much energy that they would need to replenish by resting during their inactive hours. The thing is, the active hours for most owls are during the night so their inactive hours end up being during the day. This does not mean that some owls don’t have it in reverse or other ways.
  • Hijack nest: for diurnal owls, Did day is the best time to hijack nest. This is because owls do not build nests, they are not good at doing this so they need to hijack the nest of other birds like Falcons and Pelicans. What better time to do this than when the other birds have gone out to source food and other essentials? owls are very smart birds so they conserve energy however they can, when they want to engage in activities they work very smart and strategically. This is why one of the things they do during the day is to hijack nests of other birds.
  • Roosting: Roosting is essentially a bird resting on a branch of a tree or sleeping on a branch of a tree, or some other platform. most owls roost in the day, this is when they recover a lot of the energy they expended during the night.
  • Preen: Some owls spending time in the day preening, to them this is practically the best time to groom themselves. It is more like a human who works through the night and comes home to soak in the bathtub or go for a pedicure and manicure. Some owls pick at their plumage during the day and clean themselves up.
  • eat if hungry: Of course, there’s no strict rule to when a creature gets hungry, if an owl is hungry during the day they will eat. For diurnal owls, the day is the normal time they eat. So don’t be surprised when you catch an owl eating something during the day, although this is not likely because owls are very secretive birds, but if you see this do not be surprised.
  • Observe: Owls are very observant birds, you can catch them simply watching what goes On around them during the day, this is akin to their nature and it is part of the reasons a lot of cultures believe that owls are symbols of wisdom because you cannot have wisdom without observing.
  • Hunting: You can always catch an owl hunting during the day if they are hungry or in a short supply of food.  

Do owls sleep with their eyes open?

Because of how mysterious owls are some people think that they sleep with their eyes open, this is not the case.

Owls sleep with their eyes closed. They have special eyelids for sleeping, they also have eyelids for cleaning the eyes, and also for blinking.

Even when they take short naps their eyes are not opened.

Also check out this article on why owls represent wisdom

Do owls sleep lying down?

The way owls sleep is unique, they usually sleep standing with their heads forward. This is usually done on whatever platform they roost.

Infant owls sleep on their belly and with their face down or to the side. This is because their heads are usually too heavy for them to carry up or hold up.

Do owls hunt at night?

Yes, owls hunt at night, this is one of the main things that nocturnal owls do at night.

They hunt food and consume their food at night so they spend most of the day resting.

Their night vision is excellent so it aids them to hunt at night.


Owls are very unique creatures and they have very unique features, their sleeping habits are just a part of it. 

We hope that with this article you would be adequately educated about various aspects of the sleeping habit of owls.

Photo of author

About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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