Cockatiel Night Frights: Possible Causes & How To Prevent It

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

Although most birds are able to sleep peacefully throughout the night, some will suffer from night frights.

Cockatiels, compared to other birds, seem to suffer from them more often.

In this article, you’re going to learn exactly what a night fright is, what causes them, and most importantly, how to prevent them from happening.

First, we’ll discuss what a night fright is.

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What Are Night Frights

A night fright is when a cockatiel thrashes around inside the cage in a panic at night.

Wild cockatiels that get spooked while sleeping will fly directly upwards to get away from potential danger.

This natural instinct still exists in pet cockatiels.

Their natural instincts cause them to fly upwards when spooked, even while inside a cage.

When they hit the cage roof and come crashing back down, they’ll thrash around in a panic inside the cage.

It’s definitely not a pleasant experience.

Here’s a video showing two cockatiels suffering a night fright:

(Video Credit: Pipoo & Chico Cockatiels)

If you watch the video carefully, you can see that the two cockatiels didn’t fall off the perch, they tried to fly away.

They flew directly into the side of the cage which sent them crashing to the bottom.

So, what causes this to happen?

What Causes Cockatiel Night Frights?

We’ve already established that night frights are a result of getting scared while sleeping…

But what exactly can scare a cockatiel during the night?

Well, the answer is: pretty much anything.

Cockatiels are pretty sensitive to disturbances at night.

  • Flashing lights
  • Loud noises (Thunder, loud footsteps, music)
  • Quiet noises near the cage
  • Moving shadows past the cage
  • Other household pets
  • Your neighbor’s dog barking at 3:00 AM

These are all things that can scare your cockatiel into a night fright.

Some of these disturbances may scare your bird more than others.

For example, a loud noise outside may not scare your cockatiel as much as a shadow moving past their cage, which could send them into a panic.

Birds in other cages can also scare your cockatiel.

If your cockatiel hears thrashing coming from a neighboring cage, this will cause fear and possibly a night fright.

cockatiel night frights
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

Next time your cockatiel suffers a night fright, take note of the probable cause.

If there was a thunder strike the moment before the night fright occurred, that is likely the reason.

Once you determine a cause for your cockatiel’s night frights, you can work on prevention.

How To Prevent Cockatiel Night Frights

Firstly, I want to point something out.

There is no way to 100% guarantee that your cockatiel won’t suffer a night fright.

When implementing preventative measures, you are only lowering the chances of a night fright.

Night frights can still happen no matter what you do to prevent them.

My cockatiel once suffered a night fright due to a small earthquake.

It shook the cage which sent him into a panic.

There is no way to prevent these types of natural occurrences from affecting your bird.

How to prevent cockatiel night frights
(Image Credit: Pexels)

Here are a few things you can do to significantly lower the chances of your cockatiel suffering a night fright:

  • Provide a dim night light (This will offer a comfortable level of light while also letting them sleep undisturbed)
  • Have some low volume white noise playing (Sudden noises will blend into the white noise and not disturb your cockatiel as much)
  • Cover the cage halfway (This will stop them from seeing any movement happening in the room)
  • Close the windows and curtains in their room (This will stop sudden lights and sounds coming through the window)

By implementing just a few of these measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of a night fright.

What To Do If Your Cockatiel Has A Night Fright

So, you’ve just heard your cockatiel thrashing around inside the cage.

They’re scared and on the floor of the cage, what do you do?

What To Do If your Cockatiel has a night fright
(Arthur, getting ready for bed)

Firstly, Turn On A Light

Provide a light source as soon as you hear the night fright occur.

Your cockatiel is probably on the floor of the cage, panting, hissing, and shocked.

Cockatiels are practically blind at night without a light.

Providing some visibility will start to comfort them as they’ll be able to see their surroundings and find their way around the cage.

Secondly, Check For Injuries

Parrots are highly prone to injuries during a night fright.

As they’re thrashing inside the cage, they could easily hit their bowls, perches, or the side of the cage and injure themselves.

If there are any visible injuries, call your vet immediately.

You should have an after-hours number for your vet in case something like this happens during the night. If you currently don’t have an after-hours emergency number for your vet, get on that soon, you never know what might happen.

(Image Credit: Pexels)

Lastly, Comfort Them Back To Sleep

Your cockatiel just had a terrible experience and will need comforting.

If no injuries were found, you can comfort them by being near the cage and talking in a soft voice.

A comforting presence will tell them that there is no danger and they can go back to sleep.

Once they’ve returned to their sleeping spot, leave a dim light on for them and leave the room.

Your cockatiel might not actually fall asleep for a while due to the trauma, but leaving a night light on will help comfort them.

Facts About Cockatiel Night Frights

Here are a few facts about night frights you might want to know:

  • Cockatiels suffer night frights more often than other birds.
  • Complete darkness may scare some birds, a slightly lit room is usually more comfortable for sleeping in with cockatiels.
  • Cockatiels are easily disturbed during the night. The slightest noises can cause a night fright as birds see them as possible threats.
  • You can take preventative measures to lower the chance of night frights, but there is no way to ensure a night fright will never happen.


Since we’re on the topic of sleeping…

Why not read this article on how to arrange a sleep schedule for your cockatiel

Hope this was all helpful.



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