While staying over one night at a cousin’s home, I heard her pet parrot playing around on its swing in the cage.
This surprised me as I had thought the bird had gone to sleep, and also made me speculate about how well parrots can see at night or in the dark and if they have nocturnal vision. I decided to find out for myself.
So, can parrots see in the dark? While parrots can see in low lighting, they cannot see well and may have trouble moving around in the dark. Parrots cannot see properly in the dark since their eyes have fewer rods and more cones, which mean the number of light-sensing photoreceptors is low. So they have very poor vision at night.
Parrots are largely known as diurnal birds that are most active in daylight hours. While these birds are not blind in the dark, their night vision is limited and they will be most comfortable in places they recognize as safe- in the case of a pet parrot, its cage.
If the cage is open and a pet parrot sees light outside, it may venture out to investigate, and this can result in accidents or at the very least, a confusing time for the bird. So it is best for parrots to be safe in their cages as they can’t see well at night.
Tips to avoid disturbing parrots in the dark
Since parrots cannot see well in the dark, it is optimal that they have a regular schedule that starts with daybreak and ends with sundown.
Most diurnal birds have a similar sleeping schedule, of around 12 hours daily and this is the natural way for them. Thus, there are certain points to keep in mind so that your parrot gets a full night’s sleep and is not disturbed in the darkness:
- Whenever nightfall draws near, be sure to switch off all lights in the vicinity of the parrot’s cage. A parrot normally has a sleep schedule that consists of it sleeping at nightfall, so if lights are kept on, it will distract the bird and hinder its sleep
- It is important to make sure that the cage the parrot is in is closed after nightfall. When darkness sets in, your bird will feel safest in the cage, but out of playful curiosity, may wander outside and can crash into things, unable to see well
- Make sure that the parrot’s cage is well-stocked with all its needs. While this is something you should always ensure, it is far more important post-dusk to fill your bird’s dish with water and keep its favorite things near it. If it wakes in the middle of the night, these will help comfort the parrot and won’t interrupt its sleep schedule
- If your routine is such that you need to be up and about at a time when your parrot is sleeping, particularly at night, ensure that you go about your business as quietly as possible. Avoid sudden noises and do not switch on lights in the room the parrot’s cage is in
- Bird owners have noticed that sometimes their pets have night frights, and claim that they make it a practice to keep a small night light on after dark, to comfort the bird. However, it is not advisable to do this as it will cause more disturbances to the bird and its sleep pattern, than comfort.
Should a parrot’s cage be covered at night
An item of convenience bird owners often invest in is a cage cover. Cage covers are essential for those bird owners whose homes have varying natural lighting entering the rooms.
These covers protect the parrot from disturbance by external light when it is sleeping, as they create uniform darkness, a cocoon in which the bird can rest comfortably.
We recommend getting a bed for your parrot. It sounds crazy, but most parrots actually like bird beds. We show you some bird beds and their benefits in this article!
Apart from this benefit, cage covers are also known to help calm birds and ease them out of night frights. But not all birds would prefer a cage cover.
Some parrots may feel suffocated and uncomfortable in the complete darkness of the cage cover. Luckily, it is easy to figure out if the parrot is comfortable with its cage covered or not.
It is advisable to gauge the bird’s reaction after sleeping with the cage cover on, and without it on as well. After a few days of keeping the cage cover on, if the parrot appears well-rested, chirpy and energetic, it means the bird is comfortable.
If the parrot is restless, cranky and seems tired in the day after a night with the cover on, and/ or cries out and fusses a lot during the night, you better put the cage cover away and not use it anymore.
Still, most parrots are not afraid of the dark – for most of them, it is even needed! We show you why parrots need darkness during the night here!
Where to buy cage covers
Every pet owner wants their adored pet to have the best of everything. Cage covers are no different a matter, every bird owner would desire a cover of good quality, that keeps light out and lasts long. Here are some top finds in cage covers for parrots:
- Prevue Hendryx Pet Products Good Night Bird Cage Cover- This is a sturdy, large-sized cage cover which comes in black, breathable fabric and with a front open flap you can use to look at and access the cage easily. The seller offers a number of sizes ranging up to extra large for bigger cages. Get it here.
- PONY DANCE Pets Product Universal Bird Cage Cover- This cage cover comes in two sizes and four different color options. The cover uses heavy-duty blackout fabric that is fade-resistant and non-toxic. Get it here.
Good light is important during the day – Get a pet light!
Another accessory one might consider purchasing is a pet light. These lights are appealing to birds, parrots in particular as they are bright and the birds enjoy preening under them, as well as the warmth the lights provide.
Do note that these are not to be used at night, as mentioned before about all lights. This is a good option:
- M&M Cage Company EZ Pet Light- This light is especially good for parrots. It is an LED light that uses less electricity and comes with a chew guard to prevent parrots from chewing them out. Get it here.
Do parrots see colors differently from humans? Not only is a parrot’s vision in daytime sharper than humans, but it also sees a broader spectrum of colors. Parrots can distinguish between various hues and shades much better than humans. They have more color cones in the eyes and can see colors even in the ultraviolet range, which we humans can’t.
Are parrots susceptible to declining vision? With age, parrots may develop cataracts in one or both eyes, often curable by surgery. Due to factors such as vitamin deficiency, salmonella, fungal infection, parrots can lose their vision as well. Symptoms of failing vision include excessive blinking, teary eyes and/or redness around eyes.
How can birds with declining vision be handled? Parrots can adjust to visual impairment, but the owner must take care of certain things. The owner must ensure that the bird’s perch, swing, feed bowl are kept in the same part of the cage as before, as the bird will remember that. Call out to the parrot before approaching it, or it may get scared.