Do You Cover Your Bird’s Cage at Night?

Posted by Bird Tricks on

When I first came to live in Orlando, the first month was spent sharing Jamie and Dave’s house with their 11 birds and my flock of 5.  I tried my best to integrate into their lifestyle and could only hope for cooperation from my flock. It was easier for them to make many of the changes because they were the out of their element in someone else’s home.

When the Womachs are not working, their birds follow a natural daylight schedule, going to bed at sunset and rising with it in the morning. Most of their birds were out in the aviaries and mine occupied the bird room which is situated right off of their bedroom. The first sounds they heard in the morning were the raspy chattering of my quaker and the cockatiel’s good morning songs which, according to Dave, began promptly at 6:31am. Every day. For a month. Turns out that this was the exact time of sunrise during this time of year, changing by a minute or two as the season progressed.

This is a great schedule for a bird. Natural as can be. However, by about day 15, I’m pretty sure Dave wanted to start putting the quaker in the dryer overnight to get some sleep in the morning, and I was thinking about keeping the cockatiels in an underground cave somewhere because I could hear them clearly all the way upstairs. I love hearing my birds greet the new day, but could they greet it a little later?  Say around 9:30 or 10?

After Jamie and Dave left for the tour, I settled into my own routine here at the house. This includes beginning to cover the bird’s cages at night as I had when I lived in Austin. I work varied hours, sometimes not returning home from work until after 11pm. On the days that extend so far into the evening, I need to be certain that I am not awakened at the crack of dawn. I have found that covering the cages is the best way to ensure that I get enough sleep.

However, my selfish need for sleep is not the only reason that I cover the cages. Many years ago I discovered that the solution to a behavioral problem with one of my cockatiels was in ensuring it a peaceful, secure night’s sleep, which came once I began covering the cage at night.

The unwanted behaviors simply stopped following this change. I began covering the cage of my daughter’s umbrella cockatoo, and found her to appear more rested as well.  I have covered all my bird’s cages since this time. I know that it offers security to some of the birds and it adds a little more darkness to the morning to allow a good night’s sleep for us all.

Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.


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18 comments

  • We do cover our YC Amazon.Typically I cover her around 9 pm .And in the morning they are uncovered by 8:30 ish( when I return from dropping the kiddos at school.) In the beginning we did not cover her and we had a very cranky parrot.She is much happier since she sleeps in a bit in the morning…LOL Our Quaker it depends…She is pretty good about lights out and not chattering till around 7 am. Occassionally we will cover her but for the most part there is no need.

    Sue on
  • I covered my young cockatiel when I first got her. After about 6 months, she started pacing in her cage early in the morning. If I didn’t respond, she would get noisy. She now sleeps wherever she wants, at least 50% of the time on me, at night. She sleeps the best between 11 pm and 6 am whether it is light out or not., and she naps often throughout the day. As a general rule, you might find it best to cover a bird at night. Just remember when deciding what to do with your bird, each bird has its own behaviors that may not follow the norm.

    Kayla Skye on
  • I just received this thru another email and found it immensely interesting. I have a female Moluccan who is really a Velcro bird until the hormones hit at 6 yrs! She has self mutilated twice and we are working hard (vet & I) to stop this. I have set her up in a separate night cage in the sewing room. Now after reading these I will also make cage cover and we had discussed. I want to block out the descending/ascending light from outside. I have also learned that she really responds to applause and “Good girl” but will knock me over for food before I can even starting the training in the videos. Is there a way to get her to be patient for treat training? Any other suggestions, I am on forum page too.

    Katheron on
  • Believe it or not our Green Cheek Conure will actually say “ready for bed?” in her tiny little scratch voice around dusk. My Senegal clearly says “goodnight” while she stretches her wings when she is ready for bed. They know it’s time for bed and time to be covered. They love it.

    Chad on
  • I have a male and female SI Eclectus (brother and sister). Have them in sleep cages in my bedroom and covered at night. We all sleep better when we can her each other. My female went through a real brooding phase where she was aggressive and laid eggs every six weeks. These are companion birds and they don’t need to be laying. My Avian Vet told me to make sure that she was getting at least 10 hours of complete, uninterruted, blacked out sleep. That fixed the problem. They will even go and put themselves in their sleep cages at bed time, if I am busy. The small dark space makes them feel very safe.
    Well rested birds are much happier birds.

    Kathryn Norris on

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