can birds close their eyes

If you look carefully, you might have seen your pet parrot seemingly winking at you and not responding to your actions. Do birds sleep with their eyes open? Or is it always just the one eye?

No, they don’t sleep with their eyes open all the time, but they do often sleep with one eye open.

You see, birds can literally sleep with one eye closed and the other eye completely open and alert, just like a few other select animals like dolphins and fur seals.

The only difference between birds and other animals that have this unique ability is that birds are the only ones known to be able to control it. And no, they aren’t winking at you.

Tucking In Their Bills

While the majority of a bird’s body can be kept warm by its feathers, some body parts, like its bills, are not covered in feathers.

Many birds, such as ducks and flamingos, bury their heads in their shoulders to maintain heat and protect these body parts from harsh weather.

Birds have a flexor tendon in their feet that lets them contract their toes and talons when their feet are bent.

This allows them to sleep on their perch with their talons and toes nestled deep inside their feathers. They can also secure themselves to their perch in this way so they won’t fall off when they sleep.

Waders and swimmers frequently spend the night in deep waters. This aids in keeping them safe from terrestrial predators during their slumber.

Compared to their cousins who live only on land, we’re sure those guys are getting plenty of sleep!

can birds close their eyes

Some birds, such as frigatebirds and swallows, can sleep while flying. They use the same USWS sleep mechanism to help them do this.

Research has proven that some birds can fly for as long as two hundred days straight while napping simultaneously, thanks to their USWS ability.

They can fly great distances at a time and defend themselves against land predators by doing this.

How Do Birds Sleep With One Eye Open?

This is due to their innate ability to experience unihemispheric slow-wave sleep, or USWS for short.

This fancy term simply indicates that the individual’s left and right brains can function separately.

Thus, while the other half of the brain is kept alert and active to search for predictors or any other concerning information, the other half of the brain can fall asleep quickly.

Unlike humans, they have each eye “attached” to only one side of their brains, which allows them to do this. Thus, when it comes to external stimulation, each half can function independently while the other half roosts or rests.

They can now keep an eye on their surroundings around-the-clock thanks to this.

How Can You Help Your Bird Sleep Better?

We discussed that birds sleep better when feeling safer. Consequently, providing a safe environment for your pet birds is the most crucial thing to do. Here are some things that you should take care of:


Do birds shut their eyes when they sleep?

Yes, birds sleep. Most songbirds find a secluded branch or a tree cavity, fluff out their down feathers beneath their outer feathers, turn their head to face backward and tuck their beak into their back feathers, and close their eyes.

Why is my bird closing his eyes?

Alert and healthy birds usually have both eyes wide open while awake. If the eyes start closing, and it’s not because you’re scratching a birdie head and inducing pure birdie joy, the bird might be sick. Oh, and be careful: birds often close one eye but not the other.

Do birds close their eyes when happy?

Yes they do! Sometimes they also close their eyes when they are not sleeping, but relaxing and listening to something they enjoy, such as music, another bird, or even their human.

Do birds close their eyes when they’re in pain?

The following are indications that a bird may be sick or injured: The bird is quiet, dull, the eyes may be closed, and it has fluffed feathers (the bird looks “puffed up”). It may have an obvious wound, breathing problems, a drooping wing, or show lameness or an inability to stand. It does not fly away when approached.