Ask Lafeber

Question:

August 26, 2021

Sleep


My suncouner parrot likes to sleep under my blanket and when I brought him down to his cage . Even though i bought him nice nest house inside his cage. He doesn’t like it. Is it normal and what can I do to change it. Thank


Answer:

Hi Tamara,

Do you mean your conure is sleeping in your bed with you? If so, please stop this immediately. It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of when he will die from this practice. He will either smother in the blanket, or you will roll over on him one night and crush or smother him. I’m being blunt because I want you to understand how dangerous this is, and how many birds die because of this. If you consider that human infants have died as a result of sleeping with a parent or parents, think how easily a bird can die in a bed.

It does seem that there is a misconception that birds need a nest or birdy bed to sleep in. This is simply not true. In fact, wild birds do not sleep in a nest. A nest is only used one time a year during breeding season. The rest of the year, the birds sleep in trees or other places depending on their natural habitat. The flock moves to new roosting places often. Birds do not need a bed, a nest or a den like some mammals use. Unfortunately they do sell those bird tents and huts, and those end up causing a lot of behavioral and even health problems. I would discard the “nest house” that you bought for him – he does not need this. What can happen is if he decides he likes it, his hormones will get triggered and he will decide it’s time for him to nest. He will get aggressive and only want to hide in it all the time. If he gets too frustrated, he can end up with a cloacal prolapse, which is a chronic condition that will require treatment for the rest of his life.

Go ahead and put him in his cage at night. Birds do like a high perch to sleep on, so make sure he has one. And some conures, especially young ones, will sleep on the cage floor. This is OK – he doesn’t need anything to sleep in. Most pet birds do fuss when it’s time for bed. Establish a routine and stick to it. Get his favorite treat and put him in his cage with the treat when it’s bedtime. After he eats the treat, tell him good night and leave. No matter how much he fusses, ignore him. If you go back, it just encourages him to get louder. He will never learn if you give in. You can cover the cage with a lightweight cloth if you want to try that. Some birds like having their cage, or part of their cage covered at night. You need to remember that you are always in charge and decide what is best for him. If he doesn’t like it, too bad. He will get over it and learn to sleep in his cage like all birds do. There will always be things that he doesn’t like, but you can’t give in – this is what training is about. Parrots learn quickly, so as long as you are consistent, he will soon learn that sleeping in his cage is just fine.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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