Whether you should cover a cage at night depends on how well your parrot sleeps and whether anything in its environment prevents it from resting.
Some parrots sleep better with a cage cover because they block out light, replicating nest cavities.
Covers can stop parrots from having night frights. However, some parrots fear the dark, becoming more fearful with a cover over their cage because they restrict airflow and don’t keep out noise.
Is It Good To Cover My Parrot At Night?
Whether your parrot prefers to be covered up at night depends on its personality. Some parrots like to be aware of their surroundings and become stressed when they feel trapped by a cover.
However, some parrots need help to sleep at night and rest better with a cover. A blanket or sheet can improve the situation if your parrot has 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.
Consider putting a cover over its cage for these 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.
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.
As described by 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 your 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 your parrot in a draughty room or have air conditioning to cool your home, your parrot may be too cold.
While temperature regulation is a short-term fix, your parrot is at risk of respiratory problems from prolonged exposure to low temperatures.
A cage cover traps heat, making your parrot feel warmer. This is unlikely to create the temperature it needs, but it’ll be beneficial.
Blocks Ambient Light
It’s not always feasible to turn out all lights in your home while your parrot sleeps.
Similarly, lights from cars or street lamps can disturb your parrot’s sleep. 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 looking 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.
Is It Bad To Cover My Parrot’s Cage?
Not all parrots take well to cage covers and become distressed. While some parrots get used to being covered, others don’t. If so, you should stop using a cage cover altogether.
Most parrots produce dust, especially species with powder-based coats.
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.
Larger birds, such as African greys and cockatoos, are more likely to produce parrot dust than smaller species, such as budgies and parrotlets.
While this is entirely normal, a cage cover will likely trap dust inside the cage. To prevent this, only cover three sides of the cage, leaving one side free for ventilation.
Can’t Block Noise
If your 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 noise.
The only fail-proof way to protect your parrot from noise pollution is to turn off sound-making devices or move your parrot’s cage to a quieter room.
Things that can block sound include:
- Acrylic birdcages
- Acoustic blankets or audio absorption sheets
- Standard birdcage covers
You can also soundproof the room where your parrot lives.
Never use a cage cover to punish your parrot. While it’s tempting to put your parrot into “time out” every time it misbehaves, you’ll harm the parrot-human dynamic.
A cover should invoke feelings of calm and relaxation. So, avoid using the cage cover if your parrot seems sad, depressed, or stressed.
Why Does My Parrot Freak Out At Night?
Your parrot is likely having a night fright. Cockatiels are particularly prone to night terrors, as are younger 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
- Dogs barking
- Babies crying
- Cats meowing
- Insects flying 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 will 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 your parrot to bed but work backward from when your parrot wakes up. Because parrots sleep at the same time as you, your sleep patterns are likely in sync.
Place the cover over a parrot when it’s due to fall asleep.
Remove the cover when you wake up or the sun rises. If you don’t remove the cover soon enough, your parrot will start vocalizing and growing unsettled.
Remove the cover slowly so as not to overwhelm your parrot with 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 that’s made from a lightweight, breathable material. Cotton is the best fabric as it won’t block airflow.
You also need a sturdy material that won’t unravel, such as a blanket or tightly woven sheet. Otherwise, your 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 your parrot struggles to sleep, use a cover for a few days to see if things improve. Your parrot will tell you if it’s unhappy through its actions and vocalizations.