What Works For Some Birds Doesn’t For Others

Blue and Gold macaw, Fid.

One of the main problems that I have had with my Blue and Gold Macaw Fid, is getting him to settle at night. He cries when I put him to bed, he cries again when I turn off the light, he screams in fear if anything disturbs him and he often wakes up and starts making a heart wrenching, hiccupping sob noise for no obvious reason.

In my last post on Fid, I explained how using a heat lamp was helping settle him at night. I also thought that some of my problems with settling him might have been due to him having psittacosis.


Swinging around on his new outdoor ‘play’ platform.

Since then, both his health and his sleeping habits have been steadily improving but it has still been difficult to settle him at night. He just didn’t seem to want to settle on any particular perch, which made me begin to wonder if I could improve his sleeping cage somehow?

So out came the handsaw, a plank of untreated pine and some brackets. Next thing Fid knew, he was sitting on a wooden shelf. He still has an assortment of perches, but now has a shelf to sit on as well.

Oops – my flash woke Fid up!

It’s funny but it seems to have made all the difference. He has started to sleep on the shelf. He reminds me of a chicken sitting on a nest. He is quite happy to settle at night, as long as the shelf is there. He’s even looking after it – he won’t eat anything that might make a mess while sitting on it and he backs off it to poo. I only wish he’d treat his perches with the same respect!

Blue and Gold Macaw (Pebbles) in flight. Photo by: Louise.

I have been asking friends how their macaws sleep at night and every one has given me a different answer. We’re talking perches of all different thicknesses. My friend Louise has a Blue and Gold Macaw named “The Right Royal Highness Princess Pebbles” or “Pebbles” for short. Pebbles apparently demands to be allowed to sleep in a hanging ring that is quite a tight fit. She loves it. It’s hers and you get told where to go if you dare disturb her when she’s on it.

Pebbles on her ring. Photo by: Louise.

It’s interesting how that’s the best fit for Pebbles but isn’t even an option for Fid. I’d be worried about him chewing the ring and swallowing cotton threads. On the other hand, Pebbles treats her ring with the same reverence that Fid reserves for his shelf. She has no interest in chewing it. It’s worth remembering what’s suitable for one bird might be disastrous for the next.

Sleeping on his swinging platform.

Obviously, Fid is going to keep me busy with coming up with different ways to change his cage around to suit him. The shelf has been such a success in the sleeping cage that I’ve made a platform swing for his day aviary. I’ve used a powder coated mesh, some thick plastic chain and lots of cable ties to make it. I’ve intentionally used mesh instead of something solid, so that I can hang things off it. I’ve left the chain hanging down below the platform so that I can use it for some foraging games. He loves it. Check out the video (below) of him playing with it.

Mel Vincent works as an animal rehabilitator out of Australia.

1 comment


Mac, our 2 year old B&G has never given us a problem going to sleep. I love the idea of the shelf perch and may put something together for Mac similar to your set up. Mac spends most of his time on his play perch in a play area we made for hime in the living room. Somewhere around 6:30 to 7:00 P.M. he starts saying “Hight Night”. He sleeps through the night and easily gets his 12 hours sleep each night. Mac’s cage is covered at night and there are no lights on in “his” room.


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