People are always asking if we cover the birds at night. They look around at all the cages in the living room alone and shake their heads. And don’t even start on the outside cages.
The truth is, covering birds is a bit risky. If one of them gets a toe snagged in a loose thread on the cover, they could bash themselves to death in panic. It’s not something nice to contemplate or to discover in the morning.
As long as your bird room is well-ventilated but without drafts, your birds don’t need to be covered. In fact, cockatiels and some other parrots are prone to night frights. Imagine if you were a prey species sleeping in a tree in the jungle and you thought that you saw a huge predator coming toward you. You would scream and take flight. The predator may turn out to be just shadows moving as a car goes by on the street. Still, the fear is very real and a natural reaction. We always leave a night light on in any room where birds are.
Outside, we use small solar lights to help light the aviaries. I do cover two cages out there because they don’t have good wind blocks for the birds. Which means I have to remember to cover them every evening and uncover them every morning. Because California can be cold and misty in the early evenings and mornings, then hot by midday. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
In fact, the only bird who ever gets covered is Maynard. My sweet, silly, double yellow headed Amazon parrot occasionally needs a timeout. Maynard likes to know where I am and what I am doing, so I respond to him when he calls out. If he sees anyone, and I do mean anyone, getting food, he will complain and yell bloody murder. The dog, the husband, the other birds, most of all, me, must share or a distraction must be found.
Maynard’s current cage is pie-shaped, with a curved front and straight sides. He has a pile of boxes that reach up about one-third of the way. He alternates between the perch, the food dishes, and his boxes. He has an opening in his largest box and when he goes in there, you can hear him kicking and singing his love song.
Another thing that distracts Maynard is singing. If I start to sing to him, he often will stop screaming and sing with me, only using his own tune and words. It’s so much fun. But unless he gets something else to capture his attention, once we are done singing, he goes back to screaming. He has lots of toys in his cage, and I regularly put new things on top of his cage that he might be interested in. He loves getting red lids off of jars and will hold it in his beak while chirping at it. He also enjoys a clear plastic lid and makes it into shreds in a couple hours or so.
Still, there are days when going outside to the big cage there doesn’t put him in a better mood. New toys, new veggies, new chew lids aren’t working. Recently, we agreed to foster an amazing little Blue Crown Conure named Chessie. Maynard is almost totally green, he’s so jealous. And her cage is sitting where his play stand usually is, so he can’t even edit my writing at the moment. In frustration, he starts to scream.
Chessie can hold her own when it comes to screaming. I think that just encourages Maynard to drown her out. When I can’t stand it any longer, I have to cover him. He gets a time out for about an hour, depending on what’s going on. He quiets down and so does Chessie. She goes back to saying, “I love you!” “He-llo!” and “Ay Yi Yi!”
Whenever I pull the cover off of Maynard’s cage, he does a full feather ruffle. This reminds me of a dog shaking off the dirt or water in which it just rolled. But usually, he will be good for the rest of the day after that. As long as I don’t forget his treats at the right time.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.