Photo by Dave Location: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands Napping: Solid White Parakeet "Lexi"
When I am at home in Florida and my birds are living in either their outside aviary or indoor cages, they do not get cage covers. They go by the natural daylight and night time from outside. But when I am visiting my parents, they cover their cages as habit. It was something my mom learned from the internet and just did. The bird cage at her home is placed in the center of their house where everything happens. It is also next to a window and any birds in it are birds of mine whom are fully flighted and more likely outdoor fliers. They don't get phobic from seeing other birds fly outside and are more likely to be excited by it. When my mom or dad covers the cage, they use a thick blanket from my grandmother which only fits over it 3/4 of the way leaving part of the back of the cage (on the window) exposed to the natural light of day. You can find cage covers anywhere for your bird, here are various sources I found; one, two, three, and more. Parrots need a certain amount of sleep at night and if you go by how they sleep in the wild, you will know they start to prepare for sleep at dusk and wake up at first light. This is why I let my birds go by natural lighting. I figure they know best instead of relying on me to be home at a certain time every night and cover the cage and same for the morning.
Here is a great rescource on determining the amount of sleep your parrot needs: Birds and Sleep. I was always instructed that my toucan would need 12-14 hours of sleep every night, so she actually has a separate "night time cage" when we travel, which I have heard a lot of people do for their birds so they don't have to be kept up by their owners. A night time cage is simply a smaller cage for sleeping in that is in a different location where it can be dark and uninterrupted for the bird. I have always gone by 12-14 hours of sleep with my other parrots and if they seem to need less one day and already be up, so be it. I haven't noticed any change in attitude or behavior by my own birds going by the natural light in Florida. And I always have night time cages ready if I feel one or more needs a bit more sleep.
My birds are also willing to take naps in the daytime (especially after a hot day of flight as the summers can be harsh). You have to be the judge of what your bird needs and receives because no one else knows your lifestyle better than you do. Just to prove how different birds are and how much you have to recognize their specific needs, I will explain how each of the members of my flock sleeps at night: 3 Year Old Rose Breasted Cockatoo "Bondi" - She sleeps in her cage which is shared with 7 month old "Cressi" an African Grey. The cage is in our Florida room and goes off natural night and day with full spectrum lighting inside the cage for added daytime lighting. All windows are open to screens and if she needs to, she naps in the daytime. 7 Month Old Congo African Grey "Cressi" - Cressi sleeps in the same manner of Bondi, taking naps if she feels she needs them but otherwise going by natural light. 4 Year Old Swainson Toucan "Fiji" - Fiji seems to require more sleep than the rest of the flock and has her own "night time" cage which is located in an extra half bathroom in the house. She is moved into her night time cage and put in there for extra hours of sleep in the dark. She dislikes sleeping with any bit of light shining through (seems to take after me!). 2 Year Old Military Macaw "Cash" - Cash is very low maitenance and sleeps the same way as Cressi and Bondi though he doesn't seem to need naps and is always up to something. 3.5 Month Old Rose Breasted Cockatoo "Bandit" - Bandit is our newest baby now (Cressi is no longer "the baby" of the flock!) and his cage is not in the Florida room yet. He isn't old enough to join the others and fend for himself so he has his own cage within the house. His cage gets partially covered by a cage cover at night so he obtains enough sleep each night since we stay up later than he should. And my parakeets sleep the same was as Cressi, Bondi and Cash. So whether you choose to use a cage cover because you don't have an outside aviary or Florida room for your birds to go by natural light, or if you choose to make sure your bird goes by light naturally, neither is wrong as long as your bird receives the sleep it needs. Cage covers aren't wrong or right, some people's lifestyles require them while others do not. And every bird is different in their own preferences. However, I have read that cage covers block the natural air flow birds constantly need so be careful about them in that resort - I never completely cover the cage with a cover because of it (source found in the book Of Parrots and People by Mira Tweti) and people tend to also use cage covers abusively to cover their birds during the day time to keep them quiet which is wrong to do. Just because your kid is throwing a fit doesn't mean you stick him or her in a dark closet, does it? So don't do it to your bird, either.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.