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).