Where Do Ducks Sleep?

where do ducks sleep

Since ducks tend to be both land and sea critters, do you wonder what happens to those birds after dark, especially where do ducks sleep?

Like any other animal, ducks end their day with a good night of sleep. But ever you sleep poorly on your first night away from home because of the change in the sleeping environment? Ducks have that problem, too. Where to roost matters a lot to their sleep quality.

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Duck sleeping habits

When sleeping, ducks are unprotected and vulnerable to attack. As being such prey birds, this special kind of bird adapted to that challenging environment by developing their unique sleeping habits.

1. Ducks sleep with one eye open

When sleeping in a row, the ducks on the outside will leave their outward-facing eyes open – it is on the lookout for predators, and the inward eyes more securely close. Ducks in the center with the protection from other ones will have the chance to close both eyes for sleeping.

duck sleep with one eye open

This habit helps this feathered creature stay safe under the risky conditions and maintain a good night of sleep. Even with just the one eye open, ducks would react to simulated warning signs of a predator in less than a fifth of a second. Also, it links to another duck sleeping habit, which is leaving half of the brain awake while sleeping.

Read our related article, How Do Chickens Sleep at Night? If you’re interested in learning about how other birds sleep, check out this guide!

2- Half of the duck’s brain is active while sleeping

Ducks have a “wow” ability that will make night-owl people envy: they can sleep with half the brain at a time and the other half is awake in order to stay alert for predators. This is what we called a single hemisphere sleeping.

When sleeping in a row, ducks in the center can fully sleep with both hemispheres of the brain while the outside one utilizes their ability to guard for other ducks. With this sleeping habit, ducks can keep themselves and also the one in the center of the row safe.

However, when their brains can’t fully rest, ducks can’t ensure the quality of their sleep to gain enough energy for the next day. That’s why ducks always rotate their position in the sleeping row to get more complete rest.

Read More: How to Keep Ducklings Bedding Dry. Prevent disease and unpleasant odors with these tips!

3- Ducks stand on one leg while roosting on land

Ducks exhibit various sleeping habits. Some are to protect themselves from predators, others are to maintain their health, for example standing on one leg when roosting on land. Though they can be truly asleep and relaxed, the “one-legged” deal has to do with conserving body heat.

Feathers cover is the shield of birds against the cold weather. However, ducks’ legs are left with nothing outside. Standing on one leg can reduce the amount of heat lost out through the unfeathered surface, which inherently helps to regulate and maintain their body temperature. This adaptation is called “unipedal resting”.

Wisely, to prevent tissue damage of long touching the ground, they will not stand only on one leg but switch between two during this period.

Read More: Why Do Ducks Quack Constantly? Discover the reason behind the quacking behavior in ducks (and how to keep ducks quiet at night) in this guide!

4- Ducks don’t always sleep at night

Unlike chickens, ducks are actually semi-nocturnal and quite active at night. That’s the reason why ducks aren’t always sleeping after dark, especially for young ducks that are at their energetic ages.

When the night falls, these nocturnal feathered birds move locations under the cover of darkness a lot, especially if the weather is not too severe. Sometimes, you may hear they chit chat at midnight – don’t be surprised!

But aging matters. As ducklings grow, they sleep more to support for their grooming. While ducks may not be the most beautiful being, they have certainly worked out sleep schedules that work best for them and allow them to survive in the wild.

Read More: What is a Male Mallard Duck Called? We share the proper name for male ducks, fun male duck facts, and how to tell a male from a female!

Where do ducks sleep?

Lots of places. The place where ducks sleep is flexible according to their breed. Some choose to only roost on land (like Muscovy ducks – Cairina moschata) while some can sleep both on land and water (like Mallard breeds – Anas platyrynchos). The place to sleep can also alter due to the changes in seasons and other environmental elements.

Waterfowl like ducks tend to roost through the night with their heads tucked under their wing on the water or an ice shelf for increased safety, as water really helps them to detect threats. Anything that would be swimming towards them would make sounds and vibrations, waking ducks up.

Domesticated ducks don’t actually “roost” like that. They will be perfectly happy sleeping on soft straw or shavings on the coop floor.  They don’t even need nesting boxes but prefer making themselves a nest in one corner of the coop. Whether you keep your ducks with chickens or not, remember to lock them up after dark in a secure shelter or coop.

Read more: Where do Geese sleep?


Exploring duck sleeping habits, especially which place do ducks sleep, helps us to have a closer look at this special feathered waterfowl. If you’re on your way to creating a duck coop in your backyard, don’t miss this chance to learn about your nocturnal friends for a better ducks petting!

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