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.
I can barely remember a time when I didn’t have cockatiels – they are one of my very favorite parrot species. As long as I have kept them, however, I have dealt with their night frights – a sudden disruption to their sleep that causes them to thrash in fear in the middle of the night. (Night frights are not limited to cockatiels, but they seem to be the species which suffers from them most.)
It’s a frightening experience for us too – the house is completely quiet and, suddenly, ...
I was lying on my bed watching the History channel this morning, when Theo, my goffins cockatoo, toddled up to the side of the bed wanting to come up. I swung my leg over the side of the bed and she hopped on my foot waiting for the elevator ride up. She marched right up and took her usual spot on my chest, resting her head on my chin.
It was just a couple of minutes before I could feel all of her body weight on the side of ...