Ducks come equipped with some God-given gifts for weathering harsh conditions. Their feathers repel water and keep them warm, while their fatty bodies retain body heat. However, they still sleep during the winter and require safe places to do so.
Ducks are gregarious, so they sleep in groups for safety. They also sleep in a variety of locations, depending on the weather and predator risk. Some ducks sleep on land, while others sleep on the water. In the case of water ducks, they typically float in large roosting flocks.
The iconic head-tucked-back sleeping position isn’t just a beautiful sight; it’s actually designed to relax the neck muscles, conserve body heat and direct their eyes forward to the water, where they can detect any movement that may signal danger. Most heavier species of ducks will also rest on their feet, stabilizing the foot against the body to prevent it from losing too much energy.
When the weather turns colder, ducks usually migrate to safer ponds or lakes for their sleeps. This gives them a chance to refuel, drink and bathe in warmer waters before settling in for the night.
Most wild ducks will float directly in the pond water to sleep, while domestic varieties are more comfortable roosting above ground on a log or perch. The latter is also a better way to avoid the water’s chill and any predators lurking in the depths. During the winter, many duck owners provide their pets with a predator-proof coop or three-sided shelter inside a secure run to allow them to get a good night’s sleep.