If you’re thinking about covering your parrot’s cage at night, there’s no right or wrong answer. It all comes down to how well your parrot sleeps and whether things within the environment prevent it from resting.
Some parrots sleep better with a cage cover. That’s because it blocks out ambient and natural light. It also replicates nest cavities, which are tree holes that wild parrots sleep in at night. Covers are also a good way to prevent parrots from getting night frights. However, parrots that are afraid of the dark may become more scared with a cover over their cage as they restrict airflow, allowing parrot dust to settle.
While a cover may be a good option for your parrot, you should never use one as a punishment. That’s because it will make parrots feel stressed and anxious, preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep.
Is It Good To Cover My Parrot At Night?
Whether your parrot prefers to be covered up at night or not is all down to the bird’s personality. Some parrots like to be aware of their surroundings and become stressed because they feel trapped by the cover.
However, some parrots need a helping hand to sleep at night and rest better with a cover. If your bird shows signs of sleep deprivation, a blanket or sheet might improve things. Symptoms that your parrot isn’t getting enough sleep include:
- Frequent yawning
- Fear or anxiety
- Excessive screaming
There are also environmental conditions to consider, such as living in a noisy apartment block or on a busy road with lots of light pollution. These things can prevent your parrot from sleeping.
If your parrot displays symptoms of tiredness, consider putting a cover over its cage. Doing so could be beneficial for these reasons:
Replicate Nest Cavities
As described by the Journal of Ornithology, wild parrots live in nest cavities and depend on cavities that already exist for shelter. These cavities consist of holes in trees that protect against predators and extreme weather. Not only do parrots sleep in them, but they lay their eggs there, too.
Nest cavities are also much warmer and darker than branches that stick out from trees. Therefore, using a cage cover replicates these conditions and makes parrots feel safer and 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. As a rough guide, they enjoy temperatures between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the room your parrot lives in is too cold, it’ll attempt to regulate its body temperature by trapping pockets of air around its body, fluffing its feathers to lock in the heat.
However, if you house your parrot in a draughty room or you have air conditioning to cool your home, your parrot’s likely to be too cold. While temperature regulation is a short-term fix, your parrot is at risk of developing respiratory problems from prolonged exposure to the cold.
Therefore, to help it sleep, a cage cover traps heat, making your parrot feel more comfortable. This won’t be enough to produce the temperature it needs, but it will help. At the same time, increase the temperature of your parrot’s living quarters.
Shelter from Ambient Light
It’s not always feasible to turn out all lights in your home while your parrot sleeps. Similarly, some lights – from a car or street lamp, for example – can disturb your bird’s sleep.
In this instance, a cage cover with blackout properties can help block out the most disruptive ambient light, ensuring your parrot gets the full night’s sleep it needs.
Shelter from Natural Light
During the summer months, there’s more natural light. This is likely to force your parrot to wake earlier than it needs to. While wild parrots adapt their sleeping patterns depending on how close to the equator they live, captive parrots don’t always find it easy to do.
Similarly, parrots don’t always get enough exercise, leaving them with too much energy to fall asleep naturally when it’s light outside.
If your parrot struggles to get the sleep it needs during June, July, and August, try placing a cover over the cage to see if it helps.
Protection from Other Pets
If you have other animals in the home that are particularly interested in your parrot, a cage cover helps both creatures rest easy at night. For example, parrots can’t see predatory pets, so they will feel more comfortable sleeping knowing they’re safe.
Similarly, if other animals can’t see the parrot while it sleeps, they’re less likely to be interested in what the bird’s doing. This creates a more harmonious environment for everyone when darkness falls.
Is It Bad To Cover My Parrot’s Cage?
There’s nothing wrong with covering your parrot’s cage at night if it sleeps better with one. However, not all parrots take to cage covers and become distressed. While some parrots get used to this, some don’t. In this instance, you should stop using a cage cover altogether.
Similarly, you must consider these things before choosing to cover your parrot’s cage at night:
Most parrots produce dust, especially species with powder-based coats. The dust comes from the feathers, which are coated in a fine layer of keratin that makes barbules. This film protects from water, wear and tear, and outside damage.
Over time, the dust naturally sheds off the feathers, especially during molting season. When the first layer disintegrates, it looks like dust or powder and quickly disperses into the environment.
Larger birds, such as African greys and cockatoos, are more likely to produce parrot dust than smaller species.
While this is entirely normal, a cage cover is likely to trap the dust, causing respiratory issues for the parrots underneath. The dustiest area will be your parrot’s cage, so the dusting becomes isolated to this spot.
To prevent this, only cover three sides of the cage, leaving one free for ventilation. This allows the fresh air to circulate, keeping the parrot healthy.
Doesn’t Block Noise
If your parrot can’t sleep because of the noise levels, a cover on its own is unfortunately not going to help. Covers can only protect against draughts and light. They won’t do anything to dull the noise your parrot hears.
The only fail-proof way to protect your parrot from noise pollution is to turn off all sound-making devices or move your parrot’s cage to a quieter area of the home.
If you can’t do this, your parrot will become irritable and tired, losing out on the high-quality sleep it needs to stay healthy. Other things that can help block sound include:
- An acrylic bird cage
- An acoustic blanket or audio absorption sheets covering the back and sides
- A standard bird cage cover
You might also want to soundproof the room you house your parrot in, but this is a significant task and isn’t always feasible. It’s also expensive.
You should never use a cage cover to punish your parrot. While it’s tempting to put your bird into “time out” every time it misbehaves, you’ll do more harm than good.
For example, the cage cover is likely to trigger feelings of fear and anxiety. As a result, your parrot will struggle to sleep every time you use one. You’ll also trigger stress-related behaviors, including:
- Feather plucking
- Excessive vocalization
- Stereotypical behaviors, such as tongue clicking or tail bobbing
By using your cage cover as a punishment, you’ll only upset your parrot and throw its sleeping pattern out of sync. This is difficult to fix.
If your parrot seems sad or stressed because of the cage cover, stop using it. As explained, not all parrots enjoy sleeping with one on – this is all down to the bird’s preference.
A cover should invoke feelings of calm and relaxation. It’s designed to improve your bird’s quality of life, so it’s not the right thing for your parrot if it doesn’t do this.
What’s The Best Parrot Cage Cover Material?
If you decide to cover your parrot’s cage at night, choose one that’s made with a lightweight, breathable material. Cotton is the best fabric as it’s easy to wash and won’t block any airflow. It’ll also provide enough protection without suffocating the bird.
However, you also need to choose a sturdy material that won’t unravel, such as a blanket or sheet that’s tightly woven. Otherwise, your parrot might ingest small pieces or become tangled in them.
Whichever you choose, opt for the darkest material you can find, as this will block out as much light as possible.
Why Does My Parrot Freak Out At Night?
If your parrot freaks out at night, it’s likely having a night fright. Cockatiels are particularly prone to night terrors, as are younger birds.
Night fright can be caused by any sudden loud noise or bright light, sparking fear and panic. All manner of things can cause a night fright, including:
- Car headlights going past the window
- Dogs barking
- Babies crying
- Cats meowing
- Insects flying past the cage
Sadly, night terrors can be serious. If the parrot is scared enough, it may fall off its perch, causing injury. It might also become panicked, attempting to fly away from the danger, crashing into its cage instead. In the worst cases, a night terror results in a fatal heart attack.
While a cover can’t block out the noise, it can reduce the amount of light your parrot sees, which may improve the severity of its night terrors.
On the flip side, a cage that’s covered too densely will trigger a night fright in parrots that are scared of the dark. Parrots can’t see well in the dark and become disorientated if there’s no light at all.
While this helps some birds sleep, it can have a detrimental effect on the well-being of parrots that are scared of the dark. This is because it makes them feel vulnerable to things they perceive as a threat. In this case, you shouldn’t use a cage cover.
What Time Should I Put My Parrot To Bed?
Parrots need a minimum of 8 hours sleep, with most doing best with 10-12 hours of uninterrupted darkness a night. While this is a broad range, it’s best to start with more darkness and reduce it if your parrot wakes early.
There’s no definitive time you should put your parrot to bed, but you can work backward from the time you or your parrot typically wakes up. Because parrots sleep at the same time as you, your sleep patterns are likely to be in sync, give or take a few hours.
However, when attempting to work out your parrot’s bedtime, remember that it needs more sleep than you.
As a rule of thumb, aim to provide darkness between 6 to 8 pm. If you leave it too late, your parrot won’t get enough rest.
What Time Should I Cover My Parrot’s Cage?
You should only cover your parrot’s cage during sleeping hours. Place the cover over it when your parrot’s due to fall asleep. Your bird will begin to settle down soon after. Remove the cover as soon as you wake up or when the sun comes out.
If you don’t remove the cover soon enough, your parrot will start vocalizing and rattling around in its cage to get free.
However, when you do remove the cover, do so gently so that you don’t overwhelm your bird with light. This could make it agitated or angry. Gradually raise the blinds or open the curtain, or use a dimmer switch to make the transition from dark to light easier.
Can Birds Sleep with The Light On?
Most parrots need to sleep in darkness. While some parrots prefer a dim night light, they won’t be able to get the full 10-12 hours if there’s too much ambient or natural light.
Your parrot’s instinct is to stay away whenever there’s light to protect themselves from predators. At night, they have protection from the dark.
If your parrot struggles to sleep, the best thing to do is try a cover for a few days to see if it improves things. Your parrot will soon communicate with you if it’s not happy.