Do You Cover Your Bird's Cage At Night?

Do You Cover Your Bird’s Cage At Night?

 August 16th, 2010
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White Budgie

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?

Mitred Conure

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.

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18 Comments on “Do You Cover Your Bird’s Cage At Night?”

Mike Benza  08/16/2010 8:51 pm

My cockatiel will occasionally have night frights if she’s not covered at night. Covering her at night also helped train her to be quiet in the morning until I got out of bed (or called out to her). If I don’t cover her she is now quiet until I get up.

My friend’s cockatiel, however, now says “Sydney, shutup!” in the morning because that’s what my friend yelled to him from her bed for a few months.

Chris  08/16/2010 9:16 pm

According to other video’s i saw i’ve got a question, Is this negative reinforcement? Does the parrot consider it as a punishment? I don’t think so, but i hope you answer.

Also, Is it important trim my parrot’s feathers? I don’t wanna ruin its looking.

Thank you for the helpful information.


Barbara  08/17/2010 11:24 am

I have always covered my birds at night they remain quiet until there uncovered at 8A.M.My Quaker starts to holler soon as 7P.M rolls around Sun or no Sun. He wants to be covered

Jeannie Yawn  08/17/2010 1:43 pm

My Sun Conure, Diego, loves to go to bed at night. I have a smaller cage that is covered that I put him in each night to sleep. When I ask him if he’s ready to go “night night”, he starts doing a little dance and comes closer to the door of the cage for me to get him out. He loves it!

Wooden Toy Chest  08/17/2010 1:57 pm

Covering the cage does not mean negative reinforcements. You are just trying to limit the light during the day which generally triggers the habit of the parrot. I mean, you are just trying to set its circadian rhythm.

Noah  08/17/2010 3:50 pm

We have been covering our birds since we got them, but one of our cockatiels kept having night frights and she look horrible. Finally we figured out to leave one corner of the cage uncovered and leave a night light one. From now on we have had no night frigts. It works so well and now the cockatiel that looked so bad is so pretty.

Ray  08/17/2010 5:06 pm

My fiance has been covering her Dbl Yellow headed Amazon since she first got it a few years ago and sometimes keeps the bird covered all day, simply because the bird yelps/yacks/ect, etc., ALL DAY LONG. I have recently been taking off the cover for a good part of the day, but she begins to start quacking again around 8pm and w/living in an apartment and thin-ass-walls, our neighbor has complained about the noise on more then one occasion. so, right now, I feel bad for the bird because I’m sure it’s thinking if it squaks, it gets covered, but on the other hand, we can’t afford to get kicked out cuz we’ll have no place to live!

John Trautschold  08/17/2010 7:57 pm

I’ve been covering my birds for quite a few years. Currently, the only bird we have is a sun conure. We’ve found that, if he doesn’t get enough sleep, he is CRANKY – CRANKY – CRANKY all day. By covering him we make sure that he gets at least 12 hours of sleep, especially since there can be other household members up late with lights on. I don’t believe he considers it punishment – when I come in to cover him around 7 or 7:30 PM, he starts saying “good night”. He also likes to play peek-a-boo in the morning when he gets uncovered.

Kathy  08/18/2010 12:00 pm

Hi, Sometimes I cover the cages & sometimes I don’t. I will cover my YCM, Kachina’s cage if we are having alot of company as her cage is near our bathroom. This way she isn’t scared of all the new people walking back and forth past her cage and startling her. My Timneh grey, Nikki, doesn’t seem to care one way or the other.
Thank you for all of the information on various topics. It really has helped in so many areas.

Laura Borneke-Schauer  08/18/2010 6:01 pm

I have a pair of tiels, blue-crown conure, eclectus, grey and a rainbow lorikeet. I used to cover my flock. Now I put them into sleeping cages (travel cages) at night. It works better for me to put them into smaller, confined spaces in an out of the way area where the noise level and traffic is greatly reduced. I started doing this for a few reasons. 1. My tiels would have night frights even when covered. Putting them into a smaller cage at the back of a large closet eliminated this problem. 2. When I acquired my grey, he would fall off of his perch at night. For fear of injury, I put him into a smaller cage at night which seemed to help and he doesn’t have as far to fall. 3. The birds just seem to be better rested and in a much better mood with better sleep and more consistent schedule for them. (and they can’t hear the birds singing outside at 5:30 a.m. 😉 ) And 4. In the event of a fire, it is easier to grab a travel cage and go than it is to try to grab a frightened bird and attempt to take him out of the house. (I hope to never have to deal with this, but I have heard stories from others).

My personal opinion is that at the very least, the birds should be covered at night. And in my own experience, putting my flock into travel cages at night seems to work even better than covering the cages. I do have a busy household with 3 kids, 3 dogs and 2 cats – so it becomes even more necessary for me personally. And my eclectus will most definitely let me know if it is past his bed time and he hasn’t been put to bed yet.

Hope this is helpful for some. Thanks!

Eliza Rain  08/20/2010 1:58 am

My parrot makes holes in the covering of her cage. Firs was a blanket, now a towel. She is a very cute and playful baby. >_>

She wake up at 8:00 am every morning.

Jeanette Ferguson  08/20/2010 4:51 pm

I just purched a Quaker Parrot. It doesn’t talk and I have no idea how old or the sex . His name is Cody and is the lovinest little thing. He does no tricks that we have reconized as yet.
He has this thing ,when we talk to him he opens his mouth and yarns. He does this a lot . Some thought they had bad breath. Others thought he was choaking.

sylvie  08/20/2010 7:52 pm

My musk lorikeet calls “night night” until I cover him and his mate. He also reminds me to be quiet at night time(if I happen to get up) by saying “night night” as I go past their cage.He gets louder until I turn off the light again and go back to bed! The other parrots have learned this behaviour and all chip in with different voices at various volumes. The simple answer is to not get up. I have always covered them completly at night and just open up the front third during the day.This makes them focus on the front of the cage and lets them feel secure about “behind” They all go outside for sun..

Kathryn Norris  08/24/2010 2:45 pm

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.

Chad  08/24/2010 3:27 pm

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.

Katheron  08/24/2010 3:40 pm

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.

Kayla Skye  08/25/2010 7:30 pm

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.

Sue  09/01/2010 2:31 pm

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.