Covering a Cockatiel’s Cage At Night: Do’s & Don’ts!

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

“Should you cover your cockatiel’s cage at night?”

That’s the big question here, right?

While it may seem like an unimportant question with a quick answer, knowing if you should or shouldn’t cover the cage could be the key to giving your cockatiel quality sleep. As you may or may not know, quality sleep leads to a healthier and happier cockatiel!

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The pros and cons of covering your cockatiel’s cage at night
  • Some safety factors to keep in mind
  • When you should & shouldn’t cover the cage
  • And in the end, we’ll talk about cockatiel sleep in general  

But first, I want to give a quick answer to the big question…

Should You Cover a Cockatiel’s Cage At Night? (Brief Answer)

Even as a short answer, it’s not a simple yes or no.

Here’s my quick answer:

It depends on your individual cockatiel and their overall sleeping environment.

Some individuals, like my cockatiel, prefer to have their cage covered at night while sleeping and others cannot handle being covered. I know that some cockatiels freak out when being covered while others don’t mind at all.

It’s up to you to know your unique cockatiel.

This will help you decide if covering the cage at night is a good choice.

That’s my short answer, now let’s move onto the pros and cons of covering the cage for sleeping.

Pros & Cons Of Covering Your Cockatiel’s Cage At Night

As is the case with most things you’ll do for your bird, there are pros and cons to covering their cage before they go to sleep. Below we’ll explore those pros and cons so you’re more educated to make the best decision for your unique cockatiel.

First, we’ll cover the pros and then we’ll look at the cons.

Pros – Covering The Cage For Sleeping

Here’s a list of the pros:

  • Covering the cage replicates a cockatiel’s natural sleeping environment
  • It creates a darker environment inside the cage, which is easier to sleep in
  • Prevents the early morning sunlight from entering the cage and waking your bird up too early
  • A cage cover prevents your cockatiel from seeing and getting frightened by movement in their sleeping room

These are some of the benefits of covering your bird’s cage while they sleep.

But before you go rushing off thinking that you should 100% start covering their cage at night, let me show you the cons.

Should I cover cockatiel cage at night?

Cons – Covering The Cage For Sleeping

Here is the list of cons:

  • The dark, warm, cosy environment of a covered cage mimics a nesting site, which can trigger hormones in some cockatiels
  • Being covered can scare some cockatiels into a night fright
  • Certain cage covers can restrict airflow

Looking at both the pros and cons of covering the cage will allow you to decide whether it’s a good idea for your unique cockatiel. For example, if it’s spring and your cockatiel is prone to hormones, you may choose not to cover the cage as it resembles a nest.

We’ll get more into that in a second, but let’s first go over some safety factors.

Safety Factors To Keep In Mind

If you’re leaning more towards the side of covering your cockatiel’s cage at night, you should keep these safety factors in mind:

  • The cage cover material must be breathable and thin (not thick)
  • Don’t cover the cage entirely as this will restrict airflow
  • Using a cage cover can trigger hormonal surges in some cockatiels
  • It’s unnecessary to cover the cage for your bird’s warmth as their feathers are insulating enough
  • Watch out for your bird as some enjoy ripping apart and digesting the cage cover fabric

Following these safety guidelines will keep your bird safe and comfortable when using a cage cover.

pros and cons of covering the cage at night

When You Should & Shouldn’t Cover Your Bird’s Cage

Now that we’ve gone through the pros, cons, and safety factors, let’s discuss when you should and shouldn’t cover your cockatiel’s cage at night. This isn’t just a reiteration of the pros and cons, instead, I’ll explain what to do in specific environmental situations.

In this section, you’ll discover if you should or shouldn’t cover the cage based on your unique situation.

When You Should Cover Your Cockatiel’s Cage

Below I’ll cover 4 situations that may warrant the use of a cage cover at night:

  1. If your cockatiel is going through hormones
  1. Household lights are on during the night
  1. To stop your bird getting scared from movement near their cage
  1. If your cockatiel is already used to being covered at night

1. If Your Cockatiel Is Going Through Hormones

Using a cage cover can be good for a cockatiel going through hormonal surges in spring.

I know I’ve just stated that using a cage cover can trigger hormones in some birds. However, covering the cage at night can prevent early morning light from entering the cage, allowing for hormonal cockatiels to get more sleep.

More sleep and less daylight hours help reduce hormonal surges.

2. If Household Lights Are On During The Night

Cockatiel cage covering night time
Image source: Pixabay

Most homes, mine included, use lights at night.

Unfortunately for our cockatiels, some of the household lights glare into their cage, disturbing their sleep. The best way to combat this, besides turning off the lights, is to cover your cockatiel’s cage before they sleep.

3. To Stop Your Bird Getting Scared From Movement

If you regularly enter your bird’s room and walk past the cage at night, you should use a cage cover.

This is actually what prompted me to start covering my cockatiel’s cage a few years ago. I would need to enter his room for something and he would get scared and start hissing. Since I still need to enter his room throughout the night, I’ll use a cage cover.

I recommend covering the cage if you sleep in the same room as your bird.

4. If Your Cockatiel Is Already Used To Sleeping With a Cover

If your cockatiel has been sleeping fine with a cover, you shouldn’t make any changes.

That’s the suggestion from Renton Vet. They continue by saying that if you don’t cover the cage at night and your cockatiel tends to freak out when being covered, don’t use a cover. Overall, you should just stick to the sleeping environment that your bird is used to.

should I cover the cage at night?
My cockatiel’s cage cover

When You Shouldn’t Cover Your Cockatiel’s Cage

Those were the circumstances where a cage cover would be good, now let’s go through 3 situations where a cage cover is not needed.

  1. If your bird hates being covered
  1. If the room is dark enough already
  1. You don’t enter your bird’s room throughout the night

1. If Your Bird Hates Being Covered

Many cockatiels hate being covered so much that they’ll scream and freak out over it.

While most birds barely react to a cage cover, some hate it, especially if they’ve never experienced being covered before. If your cockatiel doesn’t like being covered, it’s best to leave the cage uncovered at night.

2. If The Room Is Already Dark Enough

One of the main reason you would want to cover the cage is to make it darker for your bird to sleep.

While this is a good reason, covering the cage isn’t actually necessary if your cockatiel’s room is already dark enough. Their environment doesn’t need to be pitch black for them to sleep. In fact, cockatiels benefit from a little bit of light, from a nightlight perhaps.

If you could sleep in the room’s level of darkness, so can your cockatiel.

Image credit: Pixabay

3. You Don’t Enter Your Bird’s Room Throughout The Night

One of reason I choose to cover the cage is because I sleep in the same room as my cockatiel.

If I didn’t cover the cage, my cockatiel would constantly be getting scared by me walking past his cage multiple times per night. However, if your cockatiel has a room to themselves and won’t be disturbed, you can leave them uncovered.

How Long Should Cockatiels Sleep?

In general, your cockatiel needs 10 – 12 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep.

If your cockatiel is going through hormones, they’ll benefit from getting an extra hour or 2 of sleep (13 – 14 hours in total). Without proper sleep, cockatiels can become cranky the next day and more prone to behavioural problems, like excessive screaming.

There’s one mistake people commonly make with their bird’s sleep.

They don’t actually let them sleep.

Many people are watching T.V., YouTube, or causing other disturbances in the bird’s room.

They also believe that a cage cover prevents cockatiels from being disturbed by these things.

The truth is, cage covers don’t prevent disturbances.

Watching TV in your bird’s room, even with a cage cover, drastically lowers the quality of sleep they get.

How Cockatiels Sleep In The Wild

Wild cockatiels will typically sleep in one of these 2 locations:

  1. On an open tree branch in a spot that provides cover near their flock
  1. In a tree hollow with their mate

In most cases, cockatiels will sleep in the tree hollow where they’re raising their chicks.

should I cover parrot cage at night?
Image source: Pixabay – Not a cockatiel, but they sleep and nest in similar locations

Tree hollows are dark, warm, and cosy cavities in the tree trunks that are often used as nesting sites, so it’s an ideal place for sleeping. Not only are they protected from the weather in a tree hollow, but also from nocturnal birds of prey who would swoop them up.

By covering the cage at night, we’re simulating a tree hollow sleeping environment.

This is why it can cause hormonal surges.

But it’s also why covering the cage creates a comfortable sleeping environment for cockatiels.

How To Know If Your Cockatiel Is Sleeping Well

Observe their behaviour the next day.

Many people experience behavioural changes in their birds after adjusting their sleeping environment.

If you’ve recently started covering or uncovering your cockatiel’s cage at night, you can get a good idea on how well they slept by observing their behaviour. If there’s a negative change in behaviour, your bird likely slept poorly the night before.

Go back to their normal sleeping situation if this is the case.

But if you noticed less behavioural problems, your cockatiel may have slept better due to the changes.

In this case, stick with the changes!

Your cockatiel is clearly benefitting from them!

Should I cover my cockatiel's cage at night?


In conclusion, whether to cover your cockatiel’s cage at night for sleeping is a decision that depends on many factors, which include:

  • Your cockatiel’s sleeping environment
  • Your bird’s reaction to being covered
  • The lighting situation in your home
  • Whether you’ll be disturbing them during the night or not
  • Their hormones

Cage covers are best for preventing light from entering the cage and disturbing your bird’s sleep.

If your bird’s room uses black out curtains, you might not need to use a cage cover.

But if ambient light from the house or early morning sun enters your cockatiel’s cage, it might be best to cover the cage. However, cage covers are also known to trigger hormones in cockatiels as they make the environment similar to a nesting cavity.

Making the environment dark, warm, and cosy is also what makes it comfortable for sleeping.

Do what you believe is best for your unique cockatiel.

If they’ve been sleeping well with a cage cover, continue to use it.

I hope this article gave you some valuable insight.

Thank you for reading!

Read next: How To Set a Healthy Sleep Schedule For Cockatiels



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