The Bald Eagles Sleeps

Victoria/Sidney Nest The Sidney Bald Eagle Nest cams are giving some insights into Bald Eagle behaviors that were pretty much impossible to observe before the introduction of streaming videos of a Bald Eagle's nest. One such observation that has been recently discussed in the Hancock Wildlife Discussion Forum is characteristics of the eaglet's resting and sleeping behavior. The Sidney Eaglet seems to prefer to nap and sleep directly in front of the close up camera, giving us a great opportunity to observe in detail.

Ostrich has noted that when the eaglet first settles down to rest, he will repeatedly put his head down on the nest bowl but rise and look around after only a couple of seconds. This pattern will repeat a number of times. After gradually settling down the eagle will finally appear to go into a sleeping mode for much more extended periods however, will still seem to be quite alert if a sudden sound is heard and will cause him to rise and look around instantly. Naturally the question comes to mind - is this behavior the result of needing to be alert to dangers?

Ostrich posed the question, "I wonder if there are any general differences in sleep patterns between birds and mammals"?

AJL answered saying, "One comparative study found differences in rapid eye movement sleep (in the study birds, REM sleep time was 10 to 25% lower than in mammals). When the eagles were incubating, some viewers mentioned Dad sleeping with one eye open; I don't know that regular "one eye open" sleep has been confirmed in eagles, but it has in avian species that sleep on the ground. A paper in the Journal of Behavioral Brain Research presented evidence that birds control sleep and wakefulness simultaneously in different regions of the brain. Only birds and aquatic mammals (presumably so they won't drown while sleeping) do this."

Soundguy posted a video which illustrates some of the sleeping behaviors. Ostrich explains that at the start of the video the eaglet appears to be fully asleep. However, once the parent vocalizes nearby he reacts very quickly, going from a sleeping state to an alert state almost immediately. Video can be viewed at:

Skipper has posted a Video named "The Siesta" which captures napping behavior

For more fascinating insights into the activities in the nest take a look at the Discussion Forum - Sidney Bald Eagle Nest topic

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