Should You Cover Your Bird’s Cage at Night?

Are we supposed to cover our bird’s cage at night? We get asked this on consultations ALL. THE. TIME. 

I can usually assume you’re using a cage cover if you say… 

“My bird is super territorial of his/her cage and tries to bite anytime we come near, or even try to change out the food or water dishes!” 

“My bird doesn’t seem to be getting quality sleep as it see it take long naps during the day.” 

“My bird is OBSESSED with blankets and my clothing and won’t stop biting holes in it all!” 

“My bird keeps hanging out at the bottom of his/her cage but he has been to the vet and isn’t sick.” 

Here’s why I HATE CAGE COVERS… 

#1 PEOPLE MIS-USE THEM. People learn real quick that if their bird is screaming obnoxiously they can just cover him to shut him up, using the cage cover as ‘punishment’ but in reality, birds don’t understand it as punishment and it has a domino effect of creating even more psychological problems. Plus, it’s JUST MEAN. LET’S PUT YOU IN THE DARK WHEN YOU ANNOY PEOPLE. NOT COOL. 

#2 THEY CREATE HORMONAL FEATHERY MONSTERS. Let’s create a dark, warm, cozy nest together by putting this dark blanket all over your space and then destroy it every morning! Because that makes sense… NOT! Cage covers can make your bird’s cage a NEST that it comes all things hormonal over. It starts hanging out in areas that feel cozy and dark, it starts becoming defensive and territorial of the space, all the lovely horror-monal things. 

#3 BUT ARE THEY REALLY ASLEEP? You don’t know unless you can hear your bird talking or moving around if he/she is REALLY asleep under there. Most likely, they aren’t. And people just assume that now that the cage cover is on, they can watch their favorite TV show in the same room and the bird is just sleeping through it. Trust me, they’re not and even if they were, it’s crap quality of sleep. 

#4 SAFETY! I do feel pretty guilty that it took me until number 4 to even mention this because it’s probably the most important… but birds often ingest the fabric of their cage covers. It’s very common to have birds (especially cockatoos) reach through with their adorable feet and grab a section of their cover and pull it into their cage. Most start off just shredding it, destroying it, using it as nesting material… but many end up ingesting it which causes blockages and can lead to surgery and/or death. They can also become entangled in the process of pulling apart the fabric. 

#5 AIR FLOW! Birds are known for their sensitive respiratory systems, the last thing we should be doing is messing with the natural air flow they would otherwise be receiving in our homes. They’re dusty creatures and macaws in particular are prone to having respiratory issues - they need access to fresh air flow all night. 

In conclusion, cage covers cause more problems than they offer solutions. We do not use them for our birds and believe in the following alternatives for getting your bird a good night's sleep (good nights sleep = quality, uninterrupted 12 hours):

  • A sleeper cage in a quiet, dark room. 
  • Black out curtains in your bird's cage-room. 
  • Lights on a timer (like we use indoors for our birds). 

10 comments

Paige (and Loki)

I bought Loki, My Cockatiel yesterday from a bird sanctuary, he’s used to living in an aviary and is a year old. He now lives with me in an indoor cage, it’s big enough for him … I’ve removed most toys as he’s not used to them at all. I have left the cage door open and he’s flown about but getting him back in is stressful for both of us. How do I bond with him and tame him? I’ve just been sitting next to his cage eating my meals next to it also. Is this the right thing to do. I feel I need the re assurance that I’m doing things right, I’ve watched all your videos for tips.

Paige (and Loki)
Karen

I bought a handicapped heater that plugs into the wall,are they safe for parrot, my room faces to wind and can be cold. So I added that to keep them warm.

Karen
Iris Stark

I cover my bird at night and take the cover off when i get up in the morning Luna is a cockatiel very sweet talks sings and dances

Iris Stark
KRISTEN LARSON

Thank you all for all the different situations and the ideas…. My cockatiel “Hissy” was with his owner for 8 yrs before I adopted him and has had a less than desirable time with moving and being yelled at. I got a lot out of the night time covering ideas…I was using a blanket, now use a sheet..thank you. He has never gotten on anyone’s finger EVER and I would love to have US have that enjoyment together. Any ideas how to begin training him to be more interactive or is he already set in his ways..after 8yrs of no loving contact, like petting, or being near me outside or inside his cage?

KRISTEN LARSON
Aayushi joshi

Thank you

Aayushi joshi
Jacquelyn

I have always covered Ozzy’s cage at night time, fully front and back but with a couple of inches open at the bottom of the sides for ventilation. This weekend he was boarding at my local vet who opted to only partially cover the cage and this has resulted in Ozzy escaping from his cage and breaking his leg. He’s now sedated, on antibiotics and not in great shape. So covering really does work when done properly. Just make sure to cover any doors.

Jacquelyn
Jules

I’ve had a cockateal in the past which I covered at night. The cover was a bed sheet which I shaped to fit the cage. There was a 4 inch gap where his feeders were at the bottom. If he wasn’t ready for sleep, he would sit on a feeder and peer through the gap till he was ready. Then he would go up to his top perch and settle. We had him for 19years, but he sadly died last November. Now I have a Indian Ring Neck Parrot, (or Parakeet s ) as some people call them. He’s about 5 month’s, Av had him coming up 7 weeks. I tried covering him at night, but he wouldn’t settle. I place a towel on cage roof only, he excerpts this. If I want him to get used to something, the cage roof is the place. Also, once the curtains are drawn, he accepts that as cage time. He won’t come out of his cage until the curtains are opened. In colder weather, I will cover him for warmth, but make sure he has plenty of ventilation. We are both learning about each other as every bird and human arnt the same ?

Jules
adriana

I designed a box without bottom and made a door size opening, hung a stick in the middle and put a rabbit skin hanging from the middle back so my parrot can hide behind it if he is cold. The box (without the bottom) works very good to block the light and my parrot loves it.

adriana
Anne laurel

Olly my cockateal as a cage downstairs aswell but he only goes in it when he gets hungry, he as got the run of the house, he likes sitting on the window sill looking out, he loves the grandchildren coming round and gets on the floor with them, he loves the toys, olly as got toys all over the place, and he loves a cardboard box. When I first got him 5 yrs ago this Dec it was a wk before xmas, my family got him for me with new cage coz my other cockateal died a wk before, I was totaly devasted, had her for 11yrs, anyway I had decs up for xmas so wouldnt let olly out untill decs came down and he got used to where he was, I started taking him upstairs to sleep from day one, did cover him but he didnt like it and had night frights, so kept the cover of so he could see me, when I let him out of cage for first time he just flew in to everything with panic, but he settled on a photo frame and didnt move for 7 hrs, he went to sleep, after that he was ok, and now he is so cheeky, he flys out to the kitchen when im peeling spuds and says hello mummy what u doing,

Anne laurel
Valerie Hart

Loved all the information. Now I need a new bird. Every ones birds look so loved and cared for.

Valerie Hart

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