Baby Owls Sleep Face Down Because Their Heads Are Too Heavy

The image first surfaced online as a bit of a meme because, y’know, it has a bit of a bit of a ‘go home owl, you’re drunk’ vibe.

While the reliability of the source was first questioned, it turns out to be actually true with more pictures of young owls lying down to sleep having surfaced, making it all the more amazing.

Mark Rees✔@reviewwales
I've just discovered that baby owls sleep face down like THIS because their heads are too heavy. Also, I don't think I've seen owl legs before....
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6:08 AM - Jun 21, 2020
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Basically, adult owls sleep stood up because they’re fully developed but younger owls struggle to hold the weight of their heads so have to lie down, IFL Science reports.

One Twitter user shared some pictures to confirm the theory.

Mika McKinnon✔@mikamckinnon
I finally had the chance to fact-check this and I think it’s true?
Which is all kinds of amazing because TIL human toddlers & teenage owls are both champions of the Awkward Nap. …
Modem Times@ModemTimes
#TuesdayThoughts: juvenile snow owls sometimes sleep face down. Older ones can sleep whilst perched, but the weight of their heads could make a young snow owl topple over if they slept this way. THEY ARE NOT DRUNK OWLS!
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10:37 PM - Jun 2, 2019
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It was confirmed by another Twitter user who wrote:

Cristina (Travel For Wildlife)@Travel4Wildlife
 ·Jun 2, 2019
Replying to @SarahMackAttack
Heather Hinam, Ph.D.@SecondNatureMB
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 :)
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10:17 PM - Jun 2, 2019
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It was also confirmed in an article by the National Audubon Society, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to conservation.

A listener of the society’s podcast BirdNote told them how he’d discovered two baby owls and was advised to observe them nap. The listener was then delighted to discover that the two babies napped on their stomachs with their head turned to the side. While it was less of a face plant – I’m sure it was just as cute.

The article added, ‘Their naps are short, and when they are asleep, they do not like to be awakened, even to be fed.’

I think we can all relate to that.

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