How Do Ducks Sleep? Facts About Ducks Sleeping Habits | Routine and Schedule:

Like humans, animals and birds also end their day with a good night’s sleep to regain the lost energy through daily activities like flying, swimming, feeding, or foraging.  

Ducks are non-aggressive, peaceful, and vulnerable birds because of their inability to fly.

Ducks are in a defensive mode even while resting and their muscular protection systems help to leave the unfortunate situations quickly.

Usually, ducks take naps several times throughout the day on dry land and consider it as a part of their grooming process. 

Ducks start their day with forage for food, swim, preen their plumage, and at last take a nap on dry land.

Ducks are small, shorter-necked fragile birds, and have many potential predators on the ground. Their unique sleeping patterns, sleeping location, and natural sleeping behaviors and posture act as a primary protective layer, and alert ducks when the threat is nearer to them.

Like any other animal, ducks also sleep poorly with the new environmental changes. For ducks, their roosting environment matters a lot to their good sleep.

Where do ducks sleep after dark? Do ducks sleep with their eyes open? What do they do to keep warm while sleeping at night? What about their legs’ position at resting? 

In this article, let’s dive into some interesting ducks’ sleeping habits and uncover some of the myths that carry over the years.

How Do Ducks Sleep?

Ducks have adapted themselves according to the changing environment. They sleep in different ways. 

  • They sleep with their eyes open. If the bird is alone, they rather sleep in the water. Those who live in groups sleep with their eyes open. 
  • As they keep an eye open, half their brain doesn’t sleep at all. It affects their sleep, and they may seem lethargic during the day, so they keep changing positions. 
  • The ducklings don’t sleep as much as older ducks do. They are full of energy. 
  • They like to build their own nest. Providing them with a coop is good. 
  • Some ducks like Muscovy ducks, teals, Pink-eared Ducks, Mandarin ducks, etc., are perching ducks who prefer trees to roost.
  • They also tuck their bill in feathers to keep themselves warm during winters. 
  • In summers, they float on water with their insulated wings. Their wings have a wax coating, so the water slips, and they stay dry. 

Where do ducks sleep?

Ducks are prey birds by nature and have many predators such as coyotes and foxes. For all animals and birds, sleeping time puts them in a vulnerable position.

To combat potential threats and weather conditions while sleeping, ducks use sleeping environments and locations as their prime defense mechanism. 

Naturally, ducks are flexible when it comes to their sleeping place. Ducks choose their sleeping places according to their breed. 

Some ducks like to roost only on land but tend to sleep on both dry land and water. 

Their sleeping place and nesting alter due to the changes due to the environmental elements and weather conditions.

If it is a sunny day, ducks prefer to take naps on rocks or near water bodies to get more sun exposure to keep them warm. 

During cold days, ducks find shelter in small enclosed natural caves or like a coop to protect themselves from snow, cold and high winds.

Ducks like Waterfowls tuck their heads under their wings to sleep on ice or water for better protection from threats. Some ducks like Mallard ducks exclusively choose water to sleep, they simply use their lightweight to float while falling asleep.

Sleeping on the water surface has more advantages than land because it allows ducks to detect any potential predators approaching and takes necessary steps for escaping. 

When the calmness of the water surface is broken by movement or ripples under the water, the ducks get alerted and escape the danger.

Muscovy ducks prefer to roost in tall trees at night to avoid ground predators that cannot reach trees or fly high distances.

Domesticated ducks don’t roost like wild ducks, they like to sleep on shavings or soft straw on the coop floor. 

Ducks make their own nest at the corner of the coop and can co-exist with the backyard chicken.  Their basic shelter, feed, and environmental requirements are similar to the chickens, and remember to close the coop door after dark to avoid threats.

Where Do Ducks And Ducklings Sleep?

Ducks don’t complain if they don’t find a bed laid for them. They are flexible. They will sleep anywhere, depending on their breed. 

You can find them floating on the water as they take a nap or roosting on the dry land with their necks tucked into their body. 

Some birds only like water to sleep, some prefer only land, while some are happy on both land and water. It also depends on the seasons. 

In summers, ducks like floating on the warm water. In winters, when the water is freezing, they prefer land. 

When they are safe, they roost with their head in their wings. In water, they feel more secure. It is easy to detect an approaching predator in water through vibrations. 

Ducks living in the wild are adaptive and change their sleeping habits according to the conditions. 

Domesticated ducks are different. They would rather like a bed made of straws and other nesting material. These are hard-working birds who would love to make their nests. 

Related Read: How & When Do Birds Sleep? | Do Birds Sleep Standing Up? | Do Birds Dream?

Where Do Ducks Sleep On Farm?

If you are raising ducks on your farm, you will find them far better than chickens, as these are low-maintenance. They don’t need a ready-made nest or perches to roost in. 

They can make their nest, and if there is no nest, they won’t complain about sleeping on straws on the floor. You can make them a coop, though. 

Ducks are social animals. They live in a group of three or more. 

So, you can make a large coop for your pets and provide them with ample nesting material. 

This coop should be safe and secure from predators. Ensure a lock on the door and proper ventilation. 

When do ducks sleep?

As a toddler, ducks take several naps throughout the day and are not confined to full-time sleeping at night. They follow the power napping concept at intervals, following the forging phase several times, then grooming and preening their feathers.

Despite their semi-nocturnal nature and inconsistent sleeping behavior, ducks are comfortable and flexible sleepers on both land and water. Ducks sleeping quality depends on the environment they tend to roost, nesting conditions, and breed of the duck

Semi-nocturnal ducks are active at night rather than sleeping and may feed in the dark, or perhaps move to a new location when the light is low. 

For ducks, sleeping is not a stand-alone activity, it is integrated with the grooming process several times during the day. Simply, it is tightly intertwined with the maintenance process of other body parts – preens their plumage, grooms itself, and then lays down to take a nap.

Ducks act by sporadic sleep schedules that work best for them at night, to evade threats, minimize their vulnerable time and allow them to survive in the wild.

Ducks need more sleeping time as they get older. The young ducks don’t tend to sleep in a day, but old ducks’ regular job is to spend more time on sleeping and grooming.

Domesticated birds are content with the sleeping arrangements you make and do not need water bodies to sleep.

When Can Ducks Go Outside?

Ducks should go outside when they are safe, and they can protect themselves. 

You must keep the young ducklings safe in the coop until they are at least 3-4 weeks old. They need warmth to grow up healthy. 

Also, they should be prepared for the outside world before they can venture out and explore the world. 

Yes, they create quite a mess indoors, but you wouldn’t like your beautiful duckling to be hawk’s prey, would you? 

In the summers, ducks can sleep outside. As they are nocturnal, they are not as affected by harsh weather as chickens. Also, they love it outside. But it is only for the wild ducks. 

Pet ducks have no idea how to protect themselves. It’s better to keep them in the coop at night.

Ducks Sleeping Routine And Schedule

Ducks don’t keep roaming around the place all day and then go to bed at night. 

They are like kids who need a little nap during the day. Their sleeping schedule changes depending on the weather and their living conditions. 

They are nocturnal animals, so it is not sleepwalking if you see your duck wandering about during the night. It’s a habit. They are more active during the night.

Ducks may sleep on the water during the summers when it is hot, but they also prefer drylands in winter under the sun. 

You may also find them sleeping peacefully in their shelter during winters. Also, they sleep several times a day, short naps in one go, to keep them active. 

So, basically, ducks wake up, eat, groom themselves, nap, and do it again. It’s pretty much what they do. And don’t forget swimming.

How Long Do Ducks Sleep At A Time?

Ducks sleep for 45% of the day, i.e., out of 24 hours, they sleep for around 11 hours. But they don’t take this sleep in one go like humans. 

If you have a duck pet, you must have seen that there are no fixed hours of sleep. Because there aren’t. 

Ducks sleep when they feel like it. It depends greatly on the environment and weather. 

How do ducks sleep? What is their sleeping behavior?

Ducks are not the brightest birds and stay unprotected, vulnerable, and prone to attack while sleeping. 

As being such prey birds, ducks adopt unique sleeping habits to the changing environment such as taking naps throughout the day and night, sleeping in groups, and acting unihemispheric to protect themselves from their predators.

  • Sleep with one eye open

Ducks always travel in packs and sleep in a row with other ducks, both to conserve heat and provide a defense line against threats. While sleeping, they form specific formations as a defense line.

The birds at the end of the row are expected to sleep lightly and leave their outward-facing eyes open, to stay alert and look out for predators. The ducks in the middle get warm and protected from others, get a chance to sleep with both eyes closed.

This habit helps ducks to stay safe under dangerous situations and maintain a good night’s sleep. With one eye closed, ducks would react to the stimulated warnings of the threat within five seconds.

You must have heard this about ducks that they sleep with an eye open. But it is a partial truth. It depends where the bird is sleeping and whether it lives in a group or alone. 

Ducks living in a group have a pact. They assign duties. They sleep in a row, and the ducks on-duty sleep at the farther ends of the row. 

These guard ducks sleep with one eye open while the other birds take a sound sleep. Then the duty changes and some other duck takes position. 

So, this is how ducks manage to sleep in groups. 

When a duck is alone, it is more prone to attacks. It has to be vigilant and take its necessary amount of sleep. 

Their postures and whether they sleep uni-hemispherically depend on where they are living. 

Related Read: What Are The Longest Lived Birds ( Lifespan Of Birds List, Types, Care )

Do Ducks Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Yes, but only when it is needed. Ducks are prey animals. Usually, ducks who live in the wild need to protect themselves. So, they sleep in a row with guard ducks on both ends. 

These guards sleep with one eye open. Half of the duck’s brain is not asleep, which keeps an eye on the attackers. But it doesn’t recharge them enough, so they keep changing positions, so every group member can sleep peacefully and take enough rest.    

  • Using unihemispheric sleep

Ducks have the unique sleeping ability to make night-owl people envy – they can control the brain functions by shunting half of the brain for sleeping while keeping the other portion awake to guard against threats. 

This ability is known as unihemispheric sleeping (sleeping with one eye open).

However, this ability affects ducks’ sleeping quality at night, making them tired, and lacking enough energy to do their daily activities. For this reason, ducks constantly twirl their place in the sleeping row to get complete rest at night.

  • Ducks stand on one leg when roosting on land

Ducks exhibit various sleeping postures to protect themselves from potential predators and maintain a healthy body.

For instance, ducks stand on one leg when roosting on the land, they feel warm, relaxed, and fall asleep, the” one-legged” position helps them to conserve body heat.

With the help of their dense plumage, ducks can insulate themselves from the cold weather. However, their feathers cover the entire body leaving their bare legs exposed to the cold wind.

Standing on one leg reduces the heat loss through the bare legs and helps ducks to regulate their body heat – this approach is known as unipedal resting. Ducks are clever and intelligent to shift their legs to stand during this period for a long time to avoid tissue damage.

Ducks also use other sleeping postures such as rotating their heads backward and tucking their beaks in the plumage on the back. Some ducks rotate their neck to rest on their chest instead of feathers.

But ducklings have weak muscles to pull their head up when sleeping, they rest their heads on the ground and look like they are dead and scarry.

  • Ducks don’t always sleep at night

Ducks are naturally semi-nocturnal birds and quite active during nighttime. The ducks won’t sleep after dark; instead, they choose to migrate when the weather is severe, chit-chat, forage for food and groom each other.

Young ducks are very energetic and won’t sleep like older ducks. However, older ducks need more sleep schedules both day and night to groom themselves to look lively and survive in the wild.

Do Ducks Sleep Lying Down?

Ducks sleep in different postures. Ducks often sleep on one leg. They do so because they don’t have any hair or feathers on their legs to protect them from cold. It leads to heat loss. 

Thus, they tuck one leg into their feathers. These feathers help them to insulate and are their best defense against cold. Their exposed legs are the only part exposed to cold, so they have adapted to uni-pedal resting. 

They keep switching between legs to keep them warm. 

Heavy ducks can’t lift their legs for a long time, so instead, they rotate their heads backward and rest it on their back among feathers. 

But ducklings can’t do this, as they don’t have powerful muscles in their necks. So, they flop down their neck on the ground, looking like a dead bird, but they are just sleeping.

Do Ducks Sleep On The Water At Night?

Ducks and geese are heavy. They can’t roost all night on one leg. So, yes, they sleep on the water at night. Most predators like hawks and eagles also sleep at night, so ducks are safer. 

Plus, the ripples in the water, vibrations, and sound easily alerts them of an attack. They puff up their feathers and float on water. Besides, these birds are nocturnal. 

So, they don’t sleep long hours at night. They roam around, feed, groom themselves and do everything but little napping.

Domesticated ducks may be different, but you are mistaken if you think your duck will sleep as you do. 

How Do Ducks Sleep In Coop?

Ducks won’t come back home at night. You must train them. They are not homing birds. 

So, you must train them like a duckling to come back home. You can call them for dinner and then cage them up. 

Also, if you don’t let your bird sleep during the day, it will quietly enter the coop at night and sleep.

How do ducks stay warm while sleeping?

Like any other bird, ducks’ plumage provides natural insulation to withstand extreme cold weather. Ducks feathers act similar to down jackets, and the air pockets between them provide necessary body heat.

Waterfowl ducks prefer to sleep on top of the frozen water bodies over land in wintertime. Their ability to handle the cold temperature to maximize the conservation of internal body heat due to the plumage and adoption of unique sleeping posture including standing on one leg when roosting and rotating their head backward to keep on the back.

Ducks’ feet have sophisticated capillary systems that are perfect for cold water and help to regulate the blood flow and keep them warm.

To conclude, one standard characteristic that all duck breeds possess is staying vigilant during sleeping times and adopting different sleeping postures to survive in the wild. 

Their resting habits and roosting places are based on humidity, temperature, wind speed, and sky conditions. 

All their characteristics vary from time to time, location to location, and many other features.


So, this is all about ducks and their sleeping habits. If you have a pet duck, you must train it, because they are very different from wild ducks. 

What you will train as a baby will become a habit and be far more convenient for you.