Whether you should cover a parrot’s cage with a blanket at night depends on how well it sleeps and whether anything in its environment prevents it from getting adequate rest.
Some parrots sleep better with a cage cover because they block light, replicating nest cavities in the wild. Covers may stop parrots from experiencing night frights, which are common in cockatiels and budgies.
Covering a parrot’s cage when it’s dark can provide warmth on cold nights. So, a cage cover could help keep the parrot slightly warmer if your home gets chilly.
However, other pet birds become more fearful of the dark when a sheet or blanket obscures their visibility because cage covers don’t block out external noise and restrict airflow.
Sometimes, hearing scary noises that can’t be seen heightens feelings of unease and restlessness.
Should I Cover My Parrot’s Cage At Night?
Whether the parrot prefers to be covered at night depends on its personality and past treatment.
Some parrots like to be aware of their surroundings and become stressed if they feel trapped by a cover. If a bird was mistreated by a previous owner or had a bad experience, it could exacerbate the problem.
However, other birds need help to sleep and rest better with a full or partial cage cover. A blanket or sheet can lead to longer, better sleep quality if a bird’s health is compromised by sleep deprivation.
Environmental considerations include living in a noisy apartment block or on a busy road with light pollution. These external factors can prevent parrots from sleeping for 10-12 hours.
Consider putting a cover over its cage for the following reasons:
Replicates Nest Cavities
According to the Journal of Ornithology, wild parrots live in nest cavities for shelter. These cavities are holes in trees that protect parrots from dangerous predators and adverse weather (hot and cold).
Nest cavities are much warmer and darker than branches that stick out from trees. Therefore, a cage cover replicates these conditions and makes parrots feel more secure when darkness falls.
According to the Journal of Experimental Biology, parrots can tolerate high temperatures but aren’t as well adapted to the cold. They normally prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
If a parrot’s room is too cold, it’ll attempt to regulate its body temperature by trapping pockets of air by fluffing its feathers to lock in heat.
However, if you house the parrot in a draughty room or have air conditioning to cool your home, the parrot may be too cold.
While temperature regulation is a short-term fix, the parrot could develop respiratory problems from prolonged exposure to dampness, mold, humidity, and low temperatures.
A cage cover traps heat, making the parrot feel warmer. This is unlikely to create the temperature it needs to regulate its temperature, but it’ll be beneficial in a drafty room.
Blocks Ambient Light
Turning out all lights while the parrot sleeps isn’t always feasible, especially in the early evening.
Similarly, lights from cars or street lamps can disturb the parrot’s sleep because they create scary shadows. So, a cage cover with blackout properties can block out the most disruptive ambient light.
Blocks Natural Light
More natural light results in parrots waking up earlier in the summer months.
While wild parrots adapt their sleeping patterns based on how close to the equator they live, captive parrots find this process more difficult.
Protection from Other Pets
If you have other home animals, a cage cover enables parrots to rest more easily at night. For example, parrots can’t see cats stalking them and staring intendedly at their cages.
Similarly, if other animals can’t see the parrot while it sleeps, they’re less likely to be interested. This creates a more harmonious living space once darkness falls.
However, predatory animals should be kept in a separate room when you’re unavailable to supervise.
Is It Bad To Cover My Parrot’s Cage?
Not all parrots take well to cage covers, growing distressed. While some parrots adjust to being covered when it’s dark, others dislike the experience. If so, you should stop using a cage cover entirely.
Most parrots produce dust, especially species with powder-based coats, like African greys. Larger bird species, like macaws and cockatoos, produce more dust than budgies and parrotlets.
The dust comes from their feathers, which are coated in a fine layer of keratin that makes barbules. This film protects parrots from water, wear and tear, and external damage.
Over time, the dust naturally sheds off the feathers, especially during the molting season. When the first layer disintegrates, it looks like dust or powder and quickly disperses into the air.
While this is entirely normal, a cage cover will likely trap dust inside the cage. To prevent this, only cover 3 sides of the cage, leaving 1 side free for ventilation.
Don’t Block The Noise
If the parrot can’t sleep due to the noise levels, a cover won’t resolve the problem. Covers can protect against draughts and light but won’t dull external noise.
The only fail-proof way to protect the parrot from noise pollution is to turn off sound-making devices, get double glazing, or move the parrot’s cage to a quieter room.
Things that can partially block sound include:
- Acrylic birdcages.
- Acoustic blankets or audio absorption sheets.
- Standard birdcage covers.
You can also soundproof the parrot’s room.
Never use a cage cover to punish a parrot. While it’s tempting to put the parrot into “time out” every time it misbehaves, you’ll harm the parrot-human dynamic.
A cover should invoke feelings of calmness and relaxation. So, avoid using the cage cover if the parrot seems unhappy, depressed, or stressed out.
Why Does My Parrot Freak Out At Night?
The parrot is likely having a night fright. Cockatiels are particularly prone to night terrors, as are juvenile parrots. Nightmares can be caused by a sudden loud noise or bright light, sparking fear and panic.
All manner of things can cause a night fright, including:
- Car headlights.
- Barking dogs.
- Crying babies.
- Meowing cats.
- Insects that fly past the cage.
If the parrot is scared, it may fall off its perch, fly into its cage, or have a heart attack.
While a cover can’t block out noise, it can reduce the amount of light. A cage covered too densely may trigger night fright in parrots scared of the dark.
What Time Should I Put My Parrot To Bed?
Parrots need 10-12 hours of sleep, which is likelier when they get uninterrupted darkness.
There’s no right or wrong time to put the parrot to bed but work backward from when it wakes up. Because parrots are mostly diurnal like humans, your sleep patterns are likely in sync.
Place the cover over a parrot when it’s due to fall asleep, and remove the cover when the sun rises. The parrot will start vocalizing and grow unsettled if you don’t remove the cover.
Remove the cover slowly so you don’t overwhelm the parrot with bright light. Then, gradually raise the blinds, open the curtains, or use a dimmer switch to make the transition from dark to light easier.
What’s The Best Parrot Cage Cover Material?
Choose a cover made from a lightweight, breathable material, like cotton.
You also need a sturdy material that won’t unravel, like a blanket or tightly woven sheet. Otherwise, the parrot might ingest small pieces.
Most parrots sleep in darkness. While some parrots prefer a dim night light, they won’t get the full 10-12 hours of sleep if there’s too much ambient or natural light.
If the parrot struggles to sleep, put a cover over the cage for a few days to see if things improve. The parrot will tell you if it’s unhappy through actions and loud vocalizations.