Seagulls are a common sight along the world’s beaches and they can often be found in large numbers anywhere that people like to enjoy their fish and chips by the ocean. They’re noisy and raucous and are often regarded as a nuisance when you’re just trying to enjoy a nice meal while listening to the sound of the waves and breathing in the fresh salt air. Have you ever wondered where seagulls sleep?
Being seabirds, seagulls generally prefer to sleep near open water. Urban gulls, on the other hand, can often be found roosting on rooftops, near dumpsters or even in trees in people’s backyards. You probably don’t notice them sleeping in your trees because they’re not making any noise.
Let’s explore some of the interesting sleeping habits of these common birds.
Do Seagulls Sleep At Night?
In general, seagulls do sleep during the night and scavenge for food during the day. However, these birds don’t have any strict sleeping patterns. This means that some seagulls may hunt during the night and sleep for parts of the day.
This is because they’re opportunistic feeders and will go wherever they can find an easy feed. You’ll find seagulls more active at night in urban areas where there are bright street lights and people about who are eating and throwing away their scraps.
How Do Seagulls Sleep?
More often than not, seagulls will sleep while floating on the open water. The ocean is one of their favorite spots to get some shut-eye. They tuck their beaks under their wings and close their eyes. However, it’s likely that these birds will open their eyes around every 5 to 10 minutes to check on their surroundings.
While this habit, commonly referred to as unihemispheric sleep, doesn’t sound very peaceful, it’s quite necessary for these birds to keep an eye on their surroundings so that they’re not swallowed up by a shark or a large whale. If they’re napping during the day, they also have to keep an eye out for eagles that may be hovering in the sky above looking for an easy meal.
Seagulls Tend To Sleep In Large Flocks
You’ll find that a whole flock of seagulls will sleep together at the same time. The fact that other member of their flock are sleeping, indicates to individual birds that it’s quite safe to take a nap.
While the ocean is a common place to find a flock of seagulls sleeping, it’s also common to find entire flocks of napping birds in large open spaces such as beaches, fields and parks.
Seagulls more than likely, believe that there’s safety in numbers and if one bird senses danger, it will squawk loudly to warn the rest of the flock.
Interestingly, even though seagulls are considered sea birds, they will also choose other bodies of open water such as lakes and rivers to rest during the night. It all depends on whether there are easy food sources nearby.
When Do Seagulls Prefer To Go To Sleep?
Seagulls that sleep on the open water prefer conditions that are calm and still. Therefore, it’s common to find them sleeping at night or just after dusk. Generally at these times, the waters will be nice and calm and there won’t be too many predators around.
Breeding gulls will also time their sleep to when their babies are fully fed and have had a nap. This is because seagulls are very protective of their young.
What About When It Rains?
Most people would agree that floating on the ocean wouldn’t be too conducive to getting a good sleep when it’s raining. Gulls are no different. Even though birds have specialized feathers that are designed to keep their bodies dry, sometimes the feathers can get too saturated if it’s raining a lot.
When this happens, seagulls take refuge under trees and shrubs to try and shelter from a heavy downpour.
Interestingly, seagulls will also fly out into the eye of a storm where it’s going to be quite calm. For centuries, fishermen have used the sightings of seagulls to alert them of an incoming storm.
Where Do Seagulls Sleep In Winter?
Even in winter, you’ll find seagulls sleeping on the open water including frozen lakes. These birds have developed a specific thermoregulatory tactic, commonly called non-shivering thermogenesis, that stops their feet from freezing while they’re perched on freezing or cold water.
What Time Do Seagulls That Sleep At Night Wake Up?
Seagulls that sleep during the calm hours of the night will usually wake up from their slumber just as the sun begins to rise. In most parts of the world, this is around 4 to 6 am in the morning depending on the season.
Why Do Some Seagulls Sleep While Standing On One Leg?
You might have seen the odd seagull standing on one leg with its head under its wing. If you thought that the gull must be sleeping, you would have been correct.
It’s actually quite common for different species of waterbirds like geese, ducks and herons to stand on one leg for many hours while their other leg is tucked up inside their feathers. The reason for this is that it minimizes heat loss from the body, especially during the cold nights of winter.
Do Baby Seagulls Also Sleep At Night?
It’s highly likely that baby seagulls will also sleep at night while they’re safely tucked up in their nests. They will usually be protected by one of the parent birds who will also rest in or near the nest.
Because seagulls live in large colonies, there are always plenty of birds around to keep an eye out for predators that may pose a threat to these vulnerable young birds.
Is It Common For Seagulls To Sleep In Their Nests In Trees?
Most seagulls will build their nests on the ground or on cliffs that surround the ocean. They try and find places that are well hidden in order to hide from any possible predators. However, on some occasions, seagulls will build their nests in trees if they feel that the trees are a safe and secluded spot.
Because these nests are usually well hidden, they provide a safe spot for the gulls to take a nap. However, it’s mostly seagulls that live in inland areas away from coastlines that tend to sleep in their nests.
It’s also common for urban seagulls to build their nests high up on rooftops. This keeps their eggs and baby gulls safe from predators such as foxes. However, these gulls still need to be wary of other predators such as hawks.
Why Is It Not Common To See A Dead Seagull?
The reason that it’s uncommon to see a dead seagull is because gulls who are sick or injured will generally go into hiding. This is to protect themselves from predators.
If a sick gull who is in hiding dies, its carcass will be quickly consumed by scavengers that like to feed on carrion. Also, a seagull’s skeleton will decay fairly rapidly due to its delicate structure.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do seagulls mate for life?
Most seagulls will mate for life. However, if a mated pair is unable to produce any healthy chicks, they will go their separate ways and try to find a more suitable mate.
How can you tell a male seagull from a female?
The difference between male and female seagulls is very subtle. In general, a male gull will have slightly more colorful plumage than its female counterpart.
Why do seagulls always face into the wind?
Firstly, it’s more comfortable for them as their feathers don’t get ruffled. Secondly, gulls take off into the wind, so if they’re facing that direction anyway, it’s much easier for them if they need to fly off in a hurry.
How do seagulls know you have food?
Studies have been conducted that have concluded that seagulls prefer to eat food that has been handled by humans. This suggests that seagulls use human cues to find a safe meal.
Seagulls mostly sleep at night while it’s quiet and there aren’t too many predators around. Many gulls prefer to sleep on the open water because they feel quite safe there. However, they will open their eyes at regular intervals to check their surroundings.
You might also spot some seagulls napping during the day. This is because they’ve found some opportunistic food sources during the night and now need to get some rest.
Urban seagulls can also often be found sleeping on rooftops, near rubbish dumps or even in open fields or parks. These birds will congregate in large flocks so that there are always a few birds that can keep watch and warn the others of danger.