A Good Night's Sleep: Hush-a-bye Baby
Just as exposure to sunlight is important to your bird's health, so is exposure to darkness. This is essential to their ability to get a restful night's sleep.
Parrots are native to tropical and subtropical regions which are all at or near to the equator where the light and dark cycles remain fairly constant throughout the year. At the equator there are 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark each day. To the extent possible, we should allow our birds to adopt a natural sleep cycle that corresponds to the sunrise and sunset times as they would in nature.
Our birds need more sleep (10-12 hours/day) than humans do and their ability to meet these needs is critical to their physical and emotional health. Many of us do a disservice to our bird's well being by making them adhere to our crazy schedules, by keeping them up for late night TV or waking them up in the wee hours of the morning.
One of the reasons why exposure to darkness is critical to their ability to sleep is that, during light hours, our birds are instinctually wired to be on the lookout for predators. In nature, it is under the cloak of darkness that they feel safest as this is when their numerous predators are also inactive. For this reason, they do not feel relaxed enough to sleep when they are surrounded by night time lights, noise and movement.
Lack of adequate sleep can:
- negatively affect your bird's immune system
- result in low energy and elevated stress levels
- result in the development of negative behaviors (feather plucking, screaming, aggressiveness)
To facilitate your birds ability to sleep:
- Place your bird's cage in a room away from late night activity
- Use a second sleeping cage in a quiet, dark room of the house
- Use heavy curtains or blinds to block light
- Use a dark cage cover
- Provide your bird with a sleeping tent where he can escape and feel sheltered
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