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Baby Owls Sleep Face Down Because Their Heads Are Too Heavy

Ryan Ford 23 Jun 2020

"Out of sight, out of mind" is a real phenomenon - just think of all the times you would have forgotten about your laundry if not for a buzzer notifying you that it's time to change loads. Pretty sure that's not just me.

Well, naturally, we all only have so much attention to go around as it is, so who's going to keep their focus on things happening way, way out of sight? Because there are fascinating things going on that we'd otherwise never know about - like how baby owls sleep.

Most of us have never really thought about it, but the way baby owls sleep is blowing a lot of minds out there.

As many have just discovered, baby owls have to sleep face down because their heads are too heavy to sleep perched, like you'd expect birds to sleep.

When they're tuckered out, they just lay there, flat out, napping like a teenager.

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It seems odd - odd enough that many questioned the validity of it.

But it's also a question that has come up before - come on, this is the internet, of course people have wondered about the strangest things before, so why not the sleeping habits of juvenile owls?

And it turns out, there's corroborating evidence.

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If you had seen a baby owl asleep on its tummy and not known that that's how they sleep, what would you have thought?

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"I went to an bird display thing once and saw an owl doing that in the sun on a hot day," one woman shared on Twitter. "I panicked and cried to the man I thought one of his birds had died in the heat... he had to wake the poor thing up just to convince me it was okay."

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And yes, experts also weighed in to share their specialized knowledge of owl sleep habits and confirm it all.

Including this Ph.D., who has studied saw-whets and noted that their young sleep in little puddles due to their over-sized noggins.

The National Audubon Society confirmed it as well with a report from a birder who observed a young owl sleeping and noted another important detail:

"Keeping their talons tightly gripped on a branch, the owlets lie down on their stomachs, turned their heads to the side, and fell asleep. Their naps are short, and when they are asleep, they do not like to be awakened, even to be fed."

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So, those young owls are basically just like teenagers.

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Sleepy, and not even remotely graceful about it, with the possibility of an outburst when woken. You'd think the food would help that waking nudge go over a little better though, wouldn't you?

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