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When you think of nocturnal animals, the first species that most likely pops into your head is the owl.
There are many questions about owls that most people have no answer to. One reason might be that people have had little interaction with these birds. Indeed, they come out at night when most people are asleep and stay in the shadows too.
If you love owls, you might be wondering where they sleep during the day. In this article, we tackle this question!
Owls Have Nest But Prefer Cavities
Almost all birds create nests as “homes,” and in most cases, owls are no different. But nests aren’t their regular resting place. Most owls prefer to sleep inside any type of hole, also known as cavities. So if they see a hollow in a tree or they take a fancy to someone’s barn, they’ll move in.
Tree cavities are the most common places where you’re going to find them dozing. Interestingly some Elf Owls occupy holes within saguaro cacti, which are created by woodpeckers.
Another type of owls, Barn Owls, like to sleep in empty buildings and in silos. But they aren’t restricted to buildings and can doze off in cavities along cliffs too.
Burrowing Owls select an interesting place to sleep. They sleep in underground tunnels that are often dug by ground squirrels and badgers. If they find these places vacant, Burrowing Owls are prone to taking over the property!
Finally, you have Snowy Owls who create their nests by scraping a bowl on the ground.
So safe to say you’ll find owls dozing off at a wide variety of places. But cavities seem to be their favorite place.
Why Do Owls Choose Cavities?
Animals choose their sleeping place depending on their habitat and position in the food chain.
Let’s take the example of a lion. Lions eat and survive on raw meat. This requires the most comfortable condition, during resting time, so that they can digest their food. Therefore, you’ll see the lions sleep somewhere between 18-20 hours after a meal, often in shade under the trees.
Owls are birds, and they eat very little at a time. They feed on insects and rodents. Thus, owls have to search wide areas every night to stay fed. Their quest for food requires them to travel from place to place. So it doesn’t make sense to build a nest and stay within a territory when the availability of food is not a sure thing.
Cavities are ready-made and require no effort. Owls can literally just move in and rest. But that isn’t to say that they don’t build nests. Some species do so at times…
When Do Owls Build Nests?
Owls are not keen on putting a lot of effort into building nests. But there are times when they build their own nests from scratch and this is mostly during the breeding season. A pair of owls will always construct a nest that is safe and hidden.
It’s the female owl who picks the nesting site. They gather all the necessary stuff like small branches, hays, and sticks and weave them together. The male owls are responsible for defending the nest.
Together, they spend several months at the nest. They leave only after the eggs hatch and the young ones learn how to fly. But this takes several weeks.
But generally, you’ll find owls sleeping in cavities and in buildings. So look at those places if you want to click some owl pictures when they’re asleep.
When Do Owls Leave Their Nests?
Owls build nests to raise a family. The female lays the eggs while the male is busy protecting the nest.
When the young owls hatch, they are fully white with downy feathers. Their eyes remain closed for at least a couple of weeks. Till that time, they can neither see nor fly.
Thus, it’s the mama owl’s duty to keep them safe and raise them until they’re able to live by themselves. The male owl is responsible for gathering food for the entire family.
After 4 to 5 weeks after hatching, chicks learn to fly and start hunting and living like a regular owl.
How & Where do Owls Sleep?
Baby owls sleep with their head on the nest’s surface. Because owls have larger heads when compared to the body, the young ones do not have enough strength to sleep upright. Many people mistakenly think that the owls in such a posture are dead. But they’re just taking a nap.
Adult owls can sleep with their head held up. They can sleep on the tree branches by tightly gripping them with their talons. Owls can sleep up to 12 hours straight in the same position if left undisturbed.
A Quick Summary
Owls are fascinating, especially for kids. Since they are not typically seen during the daytime, many might wonder where they sleep during this time. Owls can sleep on a branch but most prefer to settle down inside something like a hollow tree trunk or your attic.