How Do Eagles Sleep? When Are Eagles Most Active?

Eagles are magnificent birds and are considered ‘kings of birds.’ They capture our attention with their swift flight, impressive aerial displays, and fierce hunting abilities. Our enthusiasm for them brings about so many questions about these elegant birds. One such question is about eagles’ sleeping habits.

Let’s take a closer look into how eagles sleep, along with other related factors, like when they are most active.

How Do Eagles Sleep?

We only see eagles flying most of the time and occasionally perching on trees, but they also need to sleep.

Once an eagle is tired and ready for sleep, it will look for a proper place, like a tree branch, to perch on (usually one that is close to its nest). Then, the eagle locks its legs to the branch so it won’t fall off during sleep. Even though standing is an eagle’s sleeping position, it’s not the only way that they can sleep.

During breeding season and while incubating the egg, they lie down.

They tuck their heads in the wings to protect themselves from the cold, and when the winter is at its peak, and the temperatures are harder, eagles seek the company of other eagles to maintain the warmth while they sleep and company to battle against vulnerabilities.

So, it is common to see eagles roost at night during winter on trees where they are protected from the elements.

Eagles find another comfortable tree if their nest is destroyed. In such cases, during migrating, they would sleep in a place where they feel safe and comfortable. They are capable of traveling miles to established roosting sites and can be seen in hundreds at such places.

Chances are high that they may return to the same tree or area every year for roosting.

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels

When Are Eagles Most Active? When Do Eagles Hunt?

Interestingly, eagles are diurnal birds (they are active during the day and sleep at night). Most eagles hunt during the day and are ready to go to bed around sunset and up before sunrise. Their activities often revolve around survival, like hunting for food and catering to their young ones.

Eagles don’t have strong night vision, so they need to hunt down their meal and for their eaglets before sunset.

This is the reason it is advised to bird lovers or people who want to see eagles arrive early at their habitat. The ideal time is around 9-10 am because they would already be soaring high by afternoon.

Also Read: Do Lions Eat Birds? Can Lions Hunt Birds?

Do Eagles Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

No. Eagles sleep with their eyes closed, like us. Many mammals (including humans), reptiles, and birds experience unihemispheric, in which half of the brain is awake and the eyes open (sometimes). However, it isn’t certain whether an eagle can do that.

Birds that experience unihemispheric sleep are usually prey so that they can remain alert even while taking a nap. But eagles don’t have such problems.

Eagles only sleep for short periods during the night and will be on alert as they still may face attacks from nocturnal animals trying to get to their nest. Their hours of sleep are not on a stretch like humans.

Where Do Eagles Build Their Nests?

Depending upon the species of the eagle, their nesting site varies. While some prefer trees, some prefer high mountain cliffs. Sometimes, eagle nests can be so large that they can even accommodate a person. They are four feet deep with a width of five to six feet in a bowl shape.

These sites are generally on high trees with large, strong branches. As eagles have wingspans ranging more than six feet, the chosen trees must have widely spaced branches to provide enough room for the eagle to take off and land without injuring themselves on adjacent tree limbs.

eagle and nest with eaglets
Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash

Another reason is that they are less likely to be attacked by predators at such a height. It gives them the advantage of surveying the area below for prey in the morning when other animals and birds are active. Eagle’s morning view probably beats the view from your bed any day.

Also Read: Do Giraffes Eat Birds?

Do Eagles Sleep In Their Nests At Night?

Though it is common for an eagle to sleep on a tree branch in a standing posture, it can sleep in a nest, too. But this happens only on some selective occasions.

When the eggs are in the incubation period, both parents will sleep in the nest, but after, one parent (usually the mother) will stay in the nest with the young eaglets to guard them while the other seeks food.

As the eaglets mature and can maintain their body temperature on their own, the parent birds gradually give them more space by staying on tree branches while keeping an eye on the eaglets. They let the eaglets sleep in the nest alone while they rest in the upper tree limbs or very close by.

They return to the nest only to repair or in the next breeding season.

How Do Bald Eagles Sleep?

Bald Eagles also hunt and are active during the day as they are diurnal and usually sleep between early nighttime and are awake with the sun. As they have reflex tendons on their feet, it helps them to grip on and lock on to a branch when they land on it.

By doing this, they avoid falling off while sleeping in a standing posture as their weight helps in keeping their legs locked in that position.


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