When you think of backyard birds, you probably think of chickens and their coop.
Most people know less about ducks and even less about their sleeping habits.
Ducks naturally sleep at night, with naps throughout the day. They prefer sleeping close to the ground, in water, or in any area they deem safe, but they need to be taught to view coops as safe.
To learn more about ducks’ sleeping habits, keep reading.
We’ll also cover how to teach your ducks to go to their coop for nighttime sleeping.
Ducks’ Sleeping Schedules
Different breeds of ducks have different sleeping schedules, which are also heavily dependent on their environment.
Many ducks will sleep overnight but also take naps during the daylight hours.
The weather conditions will affect when and where they sleep.
During the summer, they will nap in the shade or even on the water. In the winter, however, they need shelter.
Like some other animals, ducks will take naps at the end of their grooming process.
This usually comes after they forage for food.
They’ll bathe and preen their feathers before settling in for a nap.
Despite all their daytime naps, ducks are nocturnal animals and will spend the majority of their time sleeping during the night.
Further Reading: Do ducks need water at night?
Weird Things Sleeping Ducks Do
Since ducks are prey birds, they have developed unique sleeping habits to keep them safe from hungry predator attacks during nighttime.
They also sleep in seemingly odd positions as a way to stay healthy.
Sleeping with One Eye Open
These group birds will stick together when sleeping, and ducks on the outside will be on guard duty.
They will doze lightly but keep one eye open to watch for danger.
Birds in the middle of the sleeping row will close both eyes, allowing them a restful night.
Ducks have this unique ability to sleep with one eye open.
Only half of their brain is asleep when they do so, while the other half is awake and aware.
This is known as a single hemisphere.
When doing this, the bird isn’t fully rested, so ducks will take turns on who are the lookout birds.
Weird Sleeping Positions
In addition to staying safe, ducks will also do things to protect their health while sleeping.
The main one is sleeping on one foot, like a flamingo.
Ducks’ feathery bodies insulate them from heat loss, but their legs and feet are exposed and susceptible.
When a duck stands on one leg, the other is tucked against its body.
This is like throwing a blanket on the leg to keep it warm.
They switch legs periodically to protect them from cold weather and retain body heat.
Ducks also put their heads completely backward to rest on their backs.
Others tuck their beaks into their chest feathers.
This, again, keeps their body temperature more stable.
Where Do Ducks Go at Night?
Like any other animal, ducks need a safe sleeping space at night.
Different breeds will choose different sleeping locations.
For example, Muscovy ducks only sleep on land, while Mallards can choose either land or water.
In the wild, waterfowls will float on the water overnight, tucking their heads under their wings.
Even though they are not covered, this is safe for them.
Any predators send sounds and vibrations through the water, alerting the sleeping duck.
Domesticated ducks usually don’t sleep on the water, though.
Instead, they like sleeping on soft bedding like straw, wood shavings, and grass.
Without the warning system from water, they find something they can sleep against, so they are not fully exposed.
Ducks do not naturally seek enclosed areas for sleeping, so they will not go into a coop unless you teach them to.
Further Reading: Tips for helping ducks live with chickens
Once you have them in your coop, don’t worry about providing nesting boxes.
They’ll be fine creating a nest in the corner of the coop.
Ducks prefer roosting close to the ground, so they don’t need nesting boxes or roosting rods.
All you need to provide is good, comfortable bedding.
Do Ducks Take Themselves to Bed?
Ducks will not take themselves to bed in the coop unless you have taught them to.
Even then, plan to always round up your ducks before nightfall.
Ducks are likelier to take themselves to bed if they associate the coop with a safe, comfortable area.
It also needs to feel safer than any other shelter in the area.
If it’s not, your domestic ducks could choose another area to sleep in.
They don’t need to be inside to sleep, so any tree or lean-to might be their favorite sleeping space.
How to Train Your Ducks to Go in the Coop
When you first get your ducks, keep them inside their pen area for at least a few days, preferably a week, before letting them free range.
This will help them associate the coop as a safe area to call home, especially as an area with consistent food and clean water.
It also makes it easier for them to adjust to their new environment.
Since ducks are habitual creatures, they will learn the coop is a safe place to return to at the end of the day.
After the initial period of being kept inside, open the door and allow them to go out. Don’t force them out, however.
Depending on their personalities, they might leave right away or take their time wandering outside.
Then at night, start ushering all the ducks back inside.
Since these birds like to stay together, this is a straightforward process.
You won’t need to track down individuals who don’t want to be with the group.
Use a stick or pole the first few times to help direct the ducks in the right direction.
If you stick to this routine, they will start going to their sleeping area on their own when they see you at night.
Eventually, the ducks might choose to start putting themselves to bed without your help, but it’s always safer to make sure they all made it inside.