Do Seagulls Sleep? Yes – Here’s Where, Why, How, and When

Do seagulls sleep? Yes, but their sleeping activity can be a risky business for a seagull?

Either the birds are in the nests or somewhere else, and like many birds, they are always vulnerable to falling prey to the ferocious predators patrolling their surroundings.

Therefore, seagulls do sleep but will try to look for a safe environment so that they can avoid being attacked in their sleep.

During sleep, Seagulls will open and close their eyes periodically. This on/off activity, known as unihemispheric sleep, enables them to gain sufficient rest, but also enables them to monitor their surroundings while resting. During this phase, seagulls will tuck their bills into their feathers.

Let’s just clarify what we mean by the term seagull…

Seagull is a general term

Seagull is a generic term for a gull, a type of seabird. Over 20 species of seagull inhabit all areas of the planet, including the Arctic and Antarctic. Although mostly known to inhabit coastlines and islands, not all are located near the sea. Some species inhabit inland areas and even deserts.

How do seagulls sleep?

Seagulls sleep with their bills and beaks tucked in their feathers, like the majority of the birds.

To be aware of the surroundings, the seagull also opens its eyes from time to time and keeps an eye on the predators.

Seagulls do not sleep as you or I would expect them to. This kind of sleeping activity is adopted by most birds. It’s comparable to having one-half of their brain remaining awake is called unihemispheric slow-wave sleep and enables birds to remain alert to potential predators.

Also check out whether sharks sleep!

seagull resting with beak tucked in to feathers
seagull resting with beak tucked in to feathers

What time do seagulls sleep?

Not obvious information is available about the time for seagulls to sleep. They monitor the surroundings, to ensure that conditions are safe enough to take a nap. And also making the decision based on what other groups of birds are doing in the vicinity. 

Many seagulls that are seen sleeping in their location provides the security that it is largely a safe time to sleep.

If just a few are sleeping, it means that they may be more cautious so they are not attacked by predators while they are resting.

In such conditions, these birds often avoid sleeping or they can sleep in the form of groups – and taking shifts, while some of them stand on guard.

Seagulls also like to sleep where it’s peaceful. For example, the area of seashore where water is not very noisy or calm and quiet places in city and town areas as well.

Why do seagulls sleep on one leg?

Seagulls along with some other varieties of birds like ducks, geese, and long-legged herons often stand for several hours on their one leg keeping the other one tucked in their feathers.

Seagulls can also sleep in this condition on beaches, rooftops, and icy lakes. It minimizes the heat loss from the body especially during the driest winters so that the birds can survive such seasons.

Seagulls also use blood circulation and other adaptive methods to cope with the cold entering the bodies. This phenomenon can be best demonstrated by seeing seagulls sleeping on frozen lakes and other water substances.

Do baby seagulls sleep?

Baby seagulls are monitored by their adults. Seagulls live in the form of colonies and the sleeping pattern in baby seagulls is not very obvious. They often sleep at night and are guarded by their parents very carefully.

In case of an invasion, their colonies help. When a predator approaches, these birds provide a loud warning to their neighborhood, which is very useful for warning birds with vulnerable young.

Discover what baby robins eat.

Do seagulls monitor their surroundings while sleeping?

Studies have shown that seagulls open their eyes from time to time while sleeping as well and can have an idea of what is happening around them. However, they cannot monitor their territory as vigilantly as they do while they are awake. That is why they often fall prey to predators during this time.  

do seagulls sleep

Do seagulls sleep in trees?

Seagulls sleep in their nests that are usually on the ground or on a herbaceous cliff at the shore of seas and oceans. 

These birds may build up their nests in trees of a safe zone and can sleep there as well in some cases, but mostly it builds the nest in hidden places so that their eggs can be saved from the predators. 

Do seagulls sleep in nests?

Seagulls inhabiting inland areas often sleep in the nest. Their nest sites are mainly inaccessible locations to both humans and predators. That is why these sites are considered safe to sleep by seagulls. It can be either on islands, sand dunes, sea cliffs, rooftops, or else.

Do seagulls sleep on roofs?

Seagulls are very experienced and clever in the selection of an area to inhabit. They often make nests on the rooftops of buildings and houses. It helps them to escape from ground level and predators like foxes.

So during their breeding season, when they take care of their eggs and feed their babies, they sleep in the nests that are built on residential and commercial rooftops. This can present danger from other bird predators such as sparrow hawks.

Do seagulls sleep in towns and cities?

Seagulls make their nests in cities and towns when they are more vulnerable to land and marine predators. They sleep there as well during their breeding sessions and guard their young. They may sleep on rooftops, backyards, flat stones, and other difficult-to-reach points in cities and towns. 

seagulls perched on roof top

Where do seagulls sleep in winter?

Seagulls during intense winter seasons look to forage in open fields, parking lots, dumpsters, and other accessible winter areas and eat almost everything they can find that is edible.

At night in winter, seagulls sleep in covered areas, or on frozen lakes and bodies of bodies safe from predators. They use a network of blood circulatory vessels and other thermoregulatory tacts, known as non-shivering thermogenesis which prevents their feet from freezing while they are asleep.

Where do seagulls sleep when it rains?

Seagulls, like other birds, have a fluff of feathers covering them, which can help them endure the most extreme weather conditions.

During times of mild rain, seagulls can tuck their bills and one foot in, to get a sensation of warmth and their feathers can act as natural umbrellas for them that shed the rain and minimize the loss of heat. 

During heavy rainfall, seagulls can cope but prefer to seek shelter. It can be either in bushes, hidden nests or under the small rooftops in city and town areas.

They conduct minimal movement when in these conditions in order to save as much energy as they can to survive for potentially long periods of torrential rain.

Here’s where squirrels go when it rains. And here’s how squirrels sleep.

More wildlife help

I hope this has given you some important information regarding the question do seagulls sleep. Be sure to check out the many articles available on Be sure to check out the Ranger Planet YouTube channel.


A Certified Ecologist and an Entomologist, Michael has been interested in all aspects of Nature for many years. It's only now he's decided, along with his partner Fran, to begin documenting what he knows.

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