I Want My Free E-Book On Egg Laying Chickens

Night Fright in Birds: The Causes and Tips on How to Deal With It

night fright in birds

Have you ever witnessed episodes of night fright in birds? As prey animals, avians are sensitive to noise and lights at night, which could be misinterpreted as a threat.

So, even simple things like moving shadows and car honks can send your birds into a mad frenzy.

But what causes night frights in avian creatures? If you purposely looked up this question, you came to the right place because in this article, we’ll share with you:

  • What is night fright in birds, and why does it happen
  • How can you deal with night fright episodes and prevent future it
  • What birds are most susceptible to experiencing night fright

So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!

what is night fright in birds

What is Night Fright in Birds?

Night fright is any sort of disturbance that causes a bird to suddenly become spooked or unnerved in the dark or on a quiet night.

Birds may fluff up their feathers, widen their eyes, fall off their perch, thrash around the floor cage, and hit their toys and perches.

They may also jump around, clang the bell, and scratch papers during episodes of night frights.

In worse cases, some birds may break their blood feather and suffer from serious injuries. Their heart may also beat so loud and look so distraught.

Wild birds may also do the same thing at night when startled. But since they’re not in an enclosed cage, they’re less likely to get injured or lose feathers.

But what causes night frights in birds?

budgie night fright

Why Do Birds Get Night Frights?

Determining what causes night frights in birds can be challenging since they can’t tell us how they feel and what freaks them out. But the key is to observe and assess their environment.

The common causes are:

Noises like the sound of a truck or vibrations

One of the main culprits of night frights in birds is sudden noise from cars, trucks, or pets. If cats and dogs are in your home, make sure to put them in a separate room away from your bird’s location.

They might scare your birds when they move around or suddenly meow or bark near the birds.

In some cases, birds get scared when they see a member of the household coming late at night, especially if they’d enter the room where the birds reside and cast shadows.

Variations in their routine

A simple variation in your bird’s routine, like a change in cage position, can cause night frights.

This isn’t common, but some birds have preferred cage positions, and some don’t adapt well when placed in a new area or environment.


Shadows moving over the bird cage or at the window or wall can also cause night frights. Your avian pets may perceive it as a potential threat, sending them into a frenzy.

Flashing lights

Even outdoor lights, moonlight, or headlights from passing cars that produce shadows may scare them off.

Thunder and lightning

If birds fear flashing lights, expect worse reactions when there’s thunder or lightning. The sudden noises and specks of light from nature can drive the birds crazy, especially if left outside.

Rodent and insect infestation

Another probable cause of night fright in parrots is a rodent that snatches spilled food, pellets, or insect infestation that may lead to trouble sleeping.

Birds are also afraid of flies, wasps, moths, and spiders, so make sure their cage is free from these insects.


Some birds are uncomfortable with drafts or sudden streams of cool air.

Although it’s not extremely harmful to birds, it can scare them off and make them sick if you put them in the line of a cold draft after bathing.


The sound and flashing lights from fireworks can also be misinterpreted by birds as a threat and cause chaos inside their cage.


Some bird owners also reported their cockatiels panicking around their cages a few moments before an earthquake.

But the shaking of the ground can also cause night frights in birds.

cockatiel night fright birds

What Birds Are Susceptible to Night Frights?

Cockatiels are more susceptible to night frights. Their episodes are like seizures, but it also happens to other bird species like African Greys and Budgies.

Cockatiel night fright may have developed due to the need to have quick escape routines. Since they’re ground feeders, cockatiels need to be alert to run away from potential threats paused by predators looking for some snack.

They have evolved lightning-quick reactions to any potential threat by flapping wildly and flying for a speedy escape. They move in flocks, protect one another, and serve as sentinels for the welfare of the entire flock.

The entire flock will quickly fly out of the area if one of them detects a threat.

Aside from cockatiels, parrots can also experience episodes of night frights, including budgies.

Parrot night frights aren’t funny because they can lead to injuries and other life-threatening conditions.

Being prey animals, parrots employ these impulses to flee from any perceived danger. A bird, however, cannot escape from a covered cage. She will strike the cage’s ceiling if she flies up.

How to stop night frights

How to Deal With Night Fright in Birds

In this section, we’ll share helpful tips and ideas on how to deal with night frights and their effect on your avian companions.

How to Respond to Night Fright Episodes

Here are the appropriate measures to take if your bird is experiencing night fright episodes.

1. Turn the lights on

If your bird trashes on the cage floor and hisses loudly or shakes its head repetitively, it means it’s terrified.

You need to turn the lights on and approach him calmly. It might bite you, so wait for it to calm down and breathe smoothly before handling him.

2. Stay calm and talk to them

Talk to your bird in a low, soothing manner. You can also sing or hum softly to calm her down and make her feel safe.

3. Check for possible injuries

After calming your bird down, examine it from head to claw, and check the head, eyes, and wings since these body parts often get injured in night fright episodes.

Check the feet for any scratches or damage, and inspect the beak to see if it’s intact.

Creating a Safe Environment for Pet Birds

1. Keep toys out of the smaller cage

Avoid placing toys or extra items that can accidentally damage your bird in its night cage if it experiences night frights.

For instance, your bird might unintentionally graze on a branch’s pointy edge.

2. Cover the cage with breathable material at night

Some birds find it calming to have a fabric or a loose sheet covering their cage at night.

Make sure there is still airflow to and from the cage through the fabric. If your bird tries to pull the fabric through the cage, stop covering it because doing so could hurt its beak.

In general, loose-knit cotton fabric is preferable since it promotes airflow. On the other hand, vinyl fabric block air from the cage.

3. Close the curtains in the cage room

It’s possible that your bird is being scared by shadows in the room if you have sheer curtains.

You can make the relaxing by installing thicker curtains or adjusting them to enclose the window completely.

Keep an eye out to see if it gets too dark, or you risk making your bird even more nervous. You’ll need to experiment to determine the precise amount of light ideal for your bird.

4. Add a nightlight

Birds like cockatiels could become terrified if a room is excessively dark. So try to install 1-2 nightlights in the space to dispel this impression.

Just be sure to place them far enough from the cage to prevent the bird from yanking them out of the socket and hurting itself.

To locate the light that works best for your bird, you might need to test out many different types of lights.

5. Keep other animals out of the cage area

Dogs and cats that live in the house can occasionally frighten birds at night. If your bird is woken up at night, you might want to put it in a separate room.

If you have a rodent problem, contact an exterminator immediately.

6. Reverse any recent alterations you made to their room

Birds often appreciate consistency and are highly perceptive of their surroundings.

If the cage room’s wall has a recent artwork or you installed a new sparkling ceiling fan or light fixture that makes a bird uncomfortable, you may need to reverse it.

The new painting or fixture might need to be removed temporarily while the night terrors continue.

When you are thinking about remodeling, keep this in mind as well. Consider how your bird might react to the modifications.

Addressing Underlying Health Problems

1. Consult your vet if your bird experiences recurring fights. They will examine your bird’s condition and look for any physical causes. Besides that, bring your pet to your avian vet at least once a year for an annual physical examination.

2. If your pet bird was confirmed to have underlying health issues, follow your vet’s instructions regarding vitamins and medication. It means your bird’s life.

3. If your bird’s anxiety level spiked up due to calcium deficiency, try adding a mineral block or cuttlebone to its diet. Both are available in pet stores but talk to your vet before feeding them to your feathery companion.

Then, minimize their spinach intake, too, because they absorb calcium.

How to Prevent Night Frights in Birds

Here are some tips on how to prevent night fright in birds:

Provide white noise

One way to keep your bird calm at night is to run an air purifier that produces white noise. This noise from the fan masks the outdoor noise that may disturb and startle your avian companion.

White noise may include radio, TV static, or natural relaxing sounds. But don’t leave the TV on static. Instead, get free apps or play white noise music peacefully.

Add low-level lighting

If your bird is uncomfortable with having a cage cover and too much darkness, it will help if you’d provide low-level lighting at night, especially for birds like cockatiels.

Some cockatiel owners reported that allowing visible light and not covering the cage reduces night frights’ frequency.

Don’t put the cage in an unfamiliar location

It takes time before birds get accustomed to their environment, so don’t abruptly move their cage into an unfamiliar location.

Don’t cover the cage completely

Don’t entirely drape a “black-out” cloth over the cage. They can still see their surroundings while being protected by a covering that is partially over the top and covers three of the sides.

Provide snacks and treats

About 30 minutes before the lights are dimmed, feed the cockatiels or give them a regular snack. Instead of dreading the approach of night, it provides them with something to look forward to at the end of the evening.

Install a baby monitor

If you install a baby monitor close to the cage and connected to the bedroom, you can have peace of mind because it’ll alert you if there’s a threat or if your bird needs help.

Close the curtains properly

Curtains can help block the lightning and passing cars or anything that produce flashing lights that may send our bird into a frenzy.

Adequate sleep

And the final tip is to make sure your bird isn’t sleep-deprived. They need around 10 to 12 hours of sleep per day in a peaceful environment to function well and stay healthy and happy.

calming a bird

Frequently Asked Questions About Night Fright in Birds

How do you stop night frights in birds?

You can stop night frights by turning the lights on and blocking out the outdoor lights that cast shadows with thick curtains.

Then softly talk to your bird to calm him down and allow him to relax.

What causes night terrors in birds?

Any movement in the night can cause night frights in birds like shadows, flashing lights and headlights, and sounds of trucks and cars or other household pets.

Even a tree or bush moving and moonlight, which can create shadows, can scare the birds.

How do you treat night fright in cockatiels?

When a cockatiel experiences night fright episodes in the middle of the night, turn the lights on and calm him down.

Then, try feeding your bird at least half an hour before turning off the light, cover its cage halfway, and provide dim lights to prevent night frights.

What causes night terrors in cockatiels?

Cockatiel night fright can be due to moving shadows, rodent or insect infestation, or noise from other household pets like cats and dogs.

How do you stop night fright in budgies?

Budgie night fright episodes can be stopped or prevented using the same strategy as the cockatiels: turn the lights on and comfort the bird with a calm voice.

Can night fright kill a bird?

A bird suffering from night fright can be seriously injured or even killed. So, you must look out for your avian companion at night to ensure they’re safe and sound and always be prepared for future episodes.

frightened bird

Final Takeaways About Night Fright in Birds

Tending to your pet’s needs during night fright episodes requires patience and dedication. It’s not easy waking up in the middle of the night and dealing with commotion while you’re half asleep.

But if you want your pet to have a good night’s sleep and enjoy a better quality of life, you must take note of the tips above when dealing with night fright in birds.

Be prepared and check your birds immediately if your birds experience night fright. Then turn the lights on and comfort your pet with a soothing voice. Let it relax before leaving, and make sure to get rid of anything that causes night terrors.

READ NEXT: Dealing With Biting in Birds – Tips and Tricks for New Bird Owners

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *