A study conducted by German scientists has revealed for the first time that the great frigatebirds can sleep while on a long distance flight.
The red-breasted birds apparently require less sleep while a long distance flight over the ocean than on land, the birds usually take an average of 42 minutes per day while flying taking a nap of 12 seconds while flight but they usually get a 12 hour sleep while on land according to the online only journal Nature communications.
The scientists also said that the birds sleep with both eyes closed contrary to popular belief that flying birds sleep with one eye open to maintain awareness of their environment.
“Some people thought that all their sleep would have to be unihemispheric otherwise they would drop from the sky…. But that’s not the case. They can sleep with both hemispheres and they just continue soaring,” said Niels Rattenborg, from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Ornithology.
The conducted using electroencephalogram recordings (monitored brain activities and locomotion of the red-breasted birds by strapping devices to the heads) of the great frigatebirds (Fregata minor) flying over the ocean for up to 10 days, we show that they can sleep with either one hemisphere at a time or both hemispheres simultaneously.