You may have seen parrots rotating their heads around and tucking their beaks away while perching on one leg. Are they sleeping? How do they manage to stay balanced? This position is not uncommon for a parrot, and there are a few reasons why they tend to use this position. Below we look at the reasons why parrots sleep and the reason for their peculiar pose.
Do Parrots Sleep?
Parrots, like any other animal, need a proper night’s sleep and rest for various reasons. Parrots are tropical and subtropical animals; they are used to twenty-four hours of a twelve-hour day to forage and play, followed by a twelve-hour night cycle of sleep, where they have long bouts of deep, slow waves of sleep that can last up to ninety minutes per stage.
In the wild, parrots will perch high up in the trees where it is more difficult for predators to reach them and will drift off into a slumber. Sleep is important for a parrot’s mental and physical well-being; just like us, they can get a bit cranky if they do not get the right amount of time to rest.
Pet parrots will find the highest perch in their cage and will turn in for the night to restore their energy. As most pet parrots are found a bit further away from the equator, it is important to replicate their sleep conditions to get proper rest.
They will need a quiet, dark place to allow them to comfortably rest and enter into the slow-wave sleep as the availability of light dictates their sleep cycle. Giving them ten to twelve hours of darkness is not always easy, so using a cage cover or black-out blinds to reduce the light in their cage is a good idea.
The Benefits Of Sleep For Parrots
Parrots will go to sleep at sunset and awake at sunrise; as pet parrots, this is not always the case, but there is no harm in them going to bed a bit later as long as you let them sleep in the next morning.
As with any other animal, sleep is an important part of a parrot’s life cycle, and getting enough sleep will benefit the bird with,
- Energy conservation
- Immune system maintenance
- Early brain development
- Memory processing
Problems Associated With Lack Of Sleep In Parrots
Tame parrots that do not get the appropriate amount of time to sleep may start acting out and showing signs of sleep deprivation which include,
- Feather plucking
- Excessive screeching
- Signs of aggression
- Increased fear
Do Parrots Sleep With Open Eyes?
Parrots have a remarkable protective ability to enter into unihemispheric slow-wave sleep; this is when one half of the brain is sleeping and resting, while the other half is on alert for any dangers; this means that they sleep with one eye open.
This ability helps them to be alert of any predators or dangers while getting some rest at the same time. But how can they sleep while watching out for predators?
Parrots, like most birds, have the ability to switch off one side of their brain that lets them rest their brains in intervals. So when the right side of the brain sleeps, the left eye is closed and vice versa.
However, pet parrots may have less of a need to use this ability. Research has shown that the more comfortable and protected the bird feels, the less likely it is to use unihemispheric slow wave sleep, as they do not have any predators to keep a watchful eye out for.
Do Parrots Sleep During The Day?
It is not uncommon to find a parrot taking a quick nap during the day. Both wild and tame parrots will take short naps to conserve energy, catch up on missed sleep, or nap mid-day to escape the sun’s heat.
Parrot Sleeping Positions
Parrots have a few positions they enjoy taking when napping or turning in for the night, but their favorite is when they turn their heads almost 180 and tuck the beaks into their feathers. This position is not only because it is comfortable for the bird, but it has a few scientific reasons as to why they will sleep in these positions.
Sleeping Standing Up
Parrots sleep standing up, either on both legs or perched on one leg. Any exposed part of the bird, like feet, legs, and bills, causes the parrots to lose body heat. So, to conserve heat, they will lift one leg up and tuck it into their feathers with the other leg holding them to their perch.
Thanks to strong tendons in the legs and feet, the parrot can lock its legs, causing the toes and talons to grip around the perch keeping the bird from falling off the branch, called the automatic perching mechanism.
Sleeping in this position also allows parrots, especially in the wild, to quickly react to any threat and fly away.
Sleeping With Their Heads Tucked In Their Feathers
Another way parrots will position themselves for a nap or to sleep is by turning their heads 180 and tucking their beaks into the feathers to prevent heat loss through the bare parts of its beak.
They are well equipped with a unique balancing organ found in their hip close to the buttocks, called the lumbosacral organ, which helps them balance when perched.
Another reason why parrots sleep with their beaks tucked away is that the down feathers that are found under the sleek outer feathers trap warm air and retain the bodies heat; when the bird tucks its beak into these feathered air pockets, it can breathe in warm air that keeps it warm during colder nights.
Parrots, whether in the wild or tamed, need to get a certain amount of sleep to perform physical and mental functions necessary for their daily routine. Equipped with special tendons and balancing organs, parrots can sleep standing up. Another fascinating aspect of their sleep cycle is that they can sleep with one eye open for any dangers lurking around them.