Did you know that baby owls sleep lying down on their stomachs? I didn’t! But the internet knows and the pictures are adorable. Apparently, their heads are just too heavy for them. They lie down so that they don’t fall out of trees when they’re napping.
Most of the photos come from owl cafés in Japan, where people pay to pet and feed owls. After the popularity of cat cafés, the market expanded to more exotic animals. There are ethical concerns associated with captive animals if they’re not well cared for. If you’d rather see photos of wild baby owls, Science Twitter has you covered.
Owls are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and hunt at night. Adult owls perch in trees and rely on their camouflage coloration to keep them safe while they sleep. Nests are often in hollows so the babies don’t have to worry about falling out, but some sleep on branches, using their talons to hold on when they lie down.
I've been trying to find the original photographer for this image, but no luck. It's obviously a captive bird. Regardless, yes, young nestling owls do sleep, or rest lying down. Their heads are too heavy for their bodies. Here are some saw-whets from my Ph.D. research 🙂 pic.twitter.com/9xQ2SA1IPI— Dr. Heather Hinam 🌻 (@SecondNatureMB) June 3, 2019
I attribute my love of owls to my favorite childhood movie, Labyrinth. From the 1986 computer generated owl in the credits to David Bowie’s barn owl outfit at the end, it is a perfect movie. Even if that CG technology doesn’t hold up, my love for barn owls has. Which is why I’m surprised that I can still learn new things.
Fun fact: barn owls may be the inspiration for ghost stories. They love abandoned buildings. The underside of their wings are all white and the top is brown. When they fly, you see a bright white flash and then nothing. And because they hunt at night, their feathers are designed to be silent. But their call is a long, eerie screech.
If scrolling through owl photos isn’t enough, there’s also this list of superb owls in pop culture. Though I’ll have to speak to the editor about why Jareth from Labyrinth isn’t on it.
Featured Image: WATOP