Birds in their natural habitat are light sleepers, and they tend to get their rest in short stretches of sleep interrupted by rustling sounds, weather, or a nearby flock member.
However, birds do need a regular amount of uninterrupted sleep each night to function well.
This is especially true of pet birds, as interactions with humans can become problematic if the bird is tired or grumpy. A proper amount of sleep is essential to a healthy and happy bird.
So, exactly how much sleep do birds need, and what kind of setup and schedule will best facilitate their rest?
No matter how many naps they may catch during the day, birds need at least ten hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, and twelve is even better.
In rescues or homes where birds are kept in large aviaries or outdoors during the warm seasons, birds’ schedules may align with sunrise and sunset. In your home, feel free to try to adjust your bird’s schedule to what works best for you, as long as the bird does get plenty of sleep.
A Regular Schedule Is Best
If you are a night owl and have the most time to spend with your bird in the evening, a 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM sleep schedule may work best. If you prefer to spend time with your bird first thing in the morning before you head off to work, 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM may work better.
Do keep in mind that your bird will have her own preferences as well. A tired bird should be allowed to go t
It’s also okay to make an exception occasionally, such as on a day when you’ve been away more than usual and your bird needs extra one-on-one attention.
Many pet birds are accustomed to having their cage covered at night and will miss the covering if it’s not there. Covering the cage is an excellent way to block out lights, movements, and activities likely to interrupt your bird’s rest.
A cover should be breathable without any loose threads or holes in which your bird can be entangled. It’s best to cover only three sides of your bird’s cage, leaving the side closest to the wall open to allow plenty of fresh air in.
Depending on your bird, the color of the cage cover may matter. It should be dark enough to shut out most of the light, but if certain colors stress or comfort your bird, feel free to adjust as necessary.
Covering the cage is not enough to ensure your bird gets a good night’s sleep if he goes to bed before you do. Lights also need to be turned down, and if you are in the same room as your bird, you will need to keep the noise and activity level to a minimum.
If your bird hates to be covered or continually pulls the cover off, another option is to keep a smaller sleep cage in another room where your bird will be undisturbed through the night.
Some birds like cockatiels are prone to “night frights”, during which they will panic and flap around, possibly injuring themselves. Covering a cage at night can often help decrease night frights as it will keep your bird from being startled by shadows or movement.
A sleep-cage with a minimum of toys and perches on which a bird can injure herself may also be a good idea for birds prone to night frights.
You may also want to check out our interesting article on whether birds sleep with their eyes open.
The placement of the sleep cage is most important, and it should be in a quiet room on a sturdy stand or table that will adequately support it.
This cage doesn’t need to be as large as the bird’s daytime cage, especially if night frights are a concern.
A sleeping cage should always contain a dish of water. A few toys and a food dish are also nice for the sleeping cage, especially if you also use it as a place to put your bird if things are too chaotic for him in his usual space.
If your bird has a particular toy that brings it comfort, it may be a good idea to move it to the sleeping cage at night as well (or have a duplicate in the cage). A sturdy, comfortable perch placed high up inside the cage will give your bird a secure place to perch for the night.
Do Birds Like To Sleep In Bird Beds?
Snuggle huts or tent-like beds for birds are popular items you may see offered for pet birds. Many birds kept in the home do love to sleep snuggled up in one of these shelters. It depends on the individual, and some birds may take time to figure out what the bed is for.
You’ll need to introduce the bed like any unfamiliar object, giving your bird time to become accustomed to it before placing it in the cage. If your bird still has not checked out the new bed after several days, you can try placing a treat beside it.
Most birds will become curious after sticking their head in and deciding to check out the bed more fully on their own.
Most birds are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and get their rest at night. This doesn’t mean they won’t catch a nap here and there throughout the day if the conditions are right.
All pet bird species are diurnal. While humans may be able to switch back and forth from being diurnal to being nocturnal, birds should follow their natural sleep schedule as nearly as possible.
Birds like owls and night hawks are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night and sleep during the day. These birds are specially equipped to see and fly about in the darkness.
Saying that someone was “up with the birds” is a way of saying someone got up very early—for a reason! Birds often stir at the first hint of dawn, which is often well before light.
Their internal clock is telling them it’s almost time to get up. Often, they focus on singing as it’s still too dark to look for breakfast.
Covering a pet bird’s cage or shutting the curtains in the room where she sleeps will discourage nighttime singing, and most early-risers will quiet down and go back to sleep if ignored.
Birds are noisy and often demanding pets. Some owners may become annoyed and leave a bird covered or in a back bedroom for more than twelve hours of sleep.
Birds that are secluded in this way often develop severe emotional and behavioral problems for lack of interaction, stimulation, and affection.
Suppose your bird is getting on your nerves, to the point you are tempted to leave him in his sleep cage alone for the day. In that case, it may be time to seek the help of reputable parrot experts and resources like Dave and Jamieleigh (BirdTricks) or a well-established parrot rescue agency.
Behavioral problems like screaming or biting can often be dealt with through training, adjusting your bird’s diet or schedule, or simply spending more time with the bird.
A bird that seems to sleep all the time, even when out during daytime hours, may have an underlying health issue. Naps are not unusual, and younger or older birds will snooze more often than birds in the prime of life.
However, a bird that is constantly dozing on her perch, especially if she is resting on both feet, has her feathers fluffed and is breathing heavily may be ill.
Just like people, birds often find routine comforting and respond best when they know what to expect. Morning and evening routines will help your bird get the sleep he needs and help you be sure you’re giving him proper care.
In the Morning
Morning is feeding time. Birds are often noisy and excited when the sun comes up. This is a great time to get them involved in filling food dishes or introduce new toys to channel that energy.
This is also the best time to feed fresh vegetables and fruits. Picky birds are more apt to be curious when they’re bursting with fresh morning energy, and the interesting food gives them something to work on.
Fresh water should also be given every morning and replaced as often as necessary during the day.
In the Evening
The evening should also include a feeding time. Many people choose to give just the staple pellets and maybe seed as the evening feeding.
If you are trying to switch your bird to a new diet, but she has not eaten it that day, it’s essential to be sure her stomach is full before putting her to bed, so you may need to feed the old diet in the evenings for a while.
Quiet music, hanging out on a perch or with you, watching a movie on the couch—many of the things humans do to wind down for bed can also work for a bird. At the established bedtime, make sure your bird is in his cage.
Cover the cage or darken the room, tell your bird goodnight, and leave him to himself.