Do birds hibernate?

Do birds hibernate?

Hibernation is a state when animals sleep during winter, especially where the winters are extremely cold and/or snowy. Not all animals hibernate. Animals such as bears, squirrels, bats, and hedgehogs hibernate. Some lizards and snakes hibernate.

When these animals hibernate, they will eat a lot of food and gain body weight beforehand to enable them to sleep throughout the winter. For example, squirrels can gain 50% of their body weight before hibernating. 


Birds have wings, so the birds that live in very cold locations may migrate when the food is low or limited. They migrate to locations where there is more food – usually to warmer climates. 

Therefore, birds wil migrate instead of hibernate. 

However, scientists know of one bird species that fully hibernates. 

The Common Poorwill hibernates when food is scarce. The Common Poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii) is a bird in the Caprimulgidae family of nocturnal nightjars. It is native to North America. It hides in a pile of rocks to hibernate. 

Common Poorwill

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Painting: Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927) in Bird Lore


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