Sleep is essential for every living species, but we don’t all do it the same way. When it comes to parrots, you’ll notice that they sleep much differently from humans.
Parrots nearly always sleep standing up, perched on one leg. Although this looks uncomfortable from a human perspective, it’s perfectly natural for parrots. A parrot that tucks its head into its neck feathers may be cold or extra tired, whereas a parrot crouching over may be feeling unwell.
Some sleep positions are concerning, like sleeping at the bottom of the cage or hanging onto the bars at night. Insomnia can also be a problem, so you may need to help the parrot unwind at night.
Parrots And Sleep
Sleep quality is a good indicator of health, so it pays to know when, where, and how the parrot sleeps. In short, parrots should get 8-12 hours of undisturbed sleep per night.
Any less than this, and the bird may become irritable or unwell. Similarly, sleeping much more than 12 hours can also be problematic.
According to Science Direct, sleeping more than 12 hours per night is common among parrots with feather-destructive behavior (FDB) or feather plucking.
Since sleep is one of the clearest health indicators, we must closely monitor a parrot’s sleep.
How Can You Tell If A Parrot Is Sleeping?
Parrots go to sleep around sunset (or when their room starts to get dark). About an hour before rest, a parrot will retire to its sleeping perch (or a sheltered area) and start winding down for the night.
As the parrot winds down, it’ll move less and grow quieter. You can often hear parrots slowly grating their beaks before they drift asleep. Sometimes, parrots also preen themselves to relax.
It’ll look like the parrot has its eyes closed during sleep. Many parrots “peek” during sleep, which means they’ll half-open one eye periodically to survey the surroundings.
According to Bangor University, a bird sleeping with one eye open is a protective behavior.
The quieter, safer, and more predictable a parrot’s sleeping environment is, the less peeking they must do. You can help a parrot get a better night’s rest by creating an optimal sleep setting.
Parrot Sleeping Positions Meaning
Parrots need 10-12 hours of sleep to be healthy, but how do parrots like to sleep? Monitoring a parrot’s sleep position(s) is important because it can alert you regarding how it feels.
Below, we explore the most common sleeping positions and what they mean:
1/ Parrot Sleeping Standing Up
Most parrots sleep standing up, so if a parrot is upright while sleeping, this is a good sign. You may worry that a parrot will topple over during the night, but it won’t happen.
While humans deeply relax their legs and feet during sleep, parrots can lock their toe joints, allowing them to grip firmly onto a perch, even during deep sleep.
2/ Parrot Sleeping on One Leg
In addition to standing up, most parrots sleep on one leg. If a parrot sleeps on one leg, the other leg will be tucked away under its feathers, keeping it warm.
Once again, although this sleeping position looks precarious, it’s very stable. The standing leg has a joint that can be locked, enabling the parrot to stay grounded and secure.
3/ Parrot Sleeping Upside Down
Some parrot species, such as the Blue-crowned hanging parrot, can sleep upside down. However, it’s less common for non-hanging species to sleep this way.
You may observe other parrots hanging upside down occasionally. This is normal behavior, but if excessive, it could indicate the parrot feels fearful or threatened.
4/ Parrot Sleeping with Head Down
A parrot will often rotate its head slightly and tuck it into its feathers. This is a position for deep sleep, so you mustn’t disturb the parrot.
Parrots also tuck their head into their feathers when feeling cold, which could signify that you need to increase the temperature. Are the parrot’s feathers fluffed up?
If so, this is another sign a parrot is feeling cold. Most parrots need a minimum temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) to feel comfy.
5/ Parrot Sleeping on its Back or Sides
It’s rare but not unheard of for some parrots to sleep on their backs. Conures are among the most common parrots you’ll see sleeping on their backs or sides, but other species may do this too.
Seeing a parrot sleeping this way can be a bit concerning, especially for the first time.
If you see a parrot lying on its back, investigate to check if it’s OK. Parrots are likelier to sleep on their backs or sides if soft bedding is underneath them.
Seeing a parrot lying backward on a hard surface could indicate something is wrong.
6/ Parrot Sleeping At The Bottom of Cage
Parrots choose the highest perch possible so that they feel safe. They only resort to sleeping at the bottom of the cage if they feel tired or ill and lack the energy to fly up to their sleeping perch.
It’s not unheard of for some parrots to prefer sleeping at the bottom of their cage, but it’s rare.
If a parrot sleeps at the bottom of its cage and slightly crouches over, something’s amiss.
7/ Parrot Hanging from Cage at Night
Small parrots hang from the bars of their cage from their beaks, which means they’re distressed.
It’s common for small birds to do this when you bring them home for the first time, so this behavior usually subsides after a few days.
How To Make Parrot Sleep
Parrots need to feel safe and comfy before dropping off to sleep. So, cultivate a suitable sleeping place. Here are some things you can do to help the parrot sleep soundly:
Keep the Noise Down
Parrots must be relatively quiet so that they can fall asleep. According to TandF, noisy electronics often make it difficult for household parrots to wind down and fall asleep.
You may need to move the parrot to a quieter part of the house to get 10-12 hours of quiet.
Check the Temperature
Parrots prefer temperatures between 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 degrees Celsius).
Remember that the house can get cold overnight, especially during the winter. You can provide a warm nesting box if you can’t keep the ambient temperature high enough.
Friends Can Provide Comfort
According to Researchgate, when young same-sex Amazonian parrots were kept together, their welfare and behavior improved on many levels.
Not only were they less likely to pick their feathers, but they also fed and slept better.
As mentioned, parrots begin to roost about an hour before they fall asleep. Essentially, they move to the perch they’ll sleep on and begin to get comfy for the night.
According to Pamela Clark CPBC, a parrot may preen, stretch, and relax when roosting. You can help a parrot to roost by doing the following:
- Providing 3+ perches.
- Creating a quiet environment an hour before bedtime.
- Not playing with or handling the parrot at this time.
You might not immediately link diet to sleep, but they’re closely linked. If you feed a parrot an unsuitable high-energy diet, it’ll be too hyperactive to fall asleep.
However, if you give a parrot a varied diet of fruits, veggies, seeds/pellets, and water, it’ll be more even-tempered and able to fall asleep at night.
Bored and lonely parrots may struggle to sleep at night because they haven’t had enough enrichment throughout the day.
Play with the parrot daily, but not when it’s roosting time. This will help tire out a parrot.
Darkness Is Necessary
Some parrots dislike complete darkness, but they prefer dim lighting. If you force a parrot to sleep with the lights on, it may struggle to get quality sleep or fall asleep.
Key Points to Remember
Most parrots sleep standing up, although some species sleep upside down or on their backs.
Parrots usually sleep standing on one leg, which is perfectly stable.
If a parrot’s head is tucked into its feathers and its feathers are fluffed up, it may be too cold.
If a parrot crouches down during sleep (especially at the bottom of its cage), it may be unwell.
Parrots usually prefer to roost about 1 hour before sleep, which you should encourage. They need 10-12 hours of undisturbed sleep in a dark, peaceful, and relatively warm environment.