Written by Grace, Pootspete
Have you ever been awaken in the middle of the night by your birds that start thrashing inside their cages? I have. It is a scary feeling to be jolted out of bed hearing my birds in distress and not knowing why. Welcome to the world of Night Frights.
Until I learned of this occurrence, I feared for my bird's wellbeing wondering if it would happen again. My biggest question was "what are night frights and why were they happening to my birds?” In this article I hope to shine some light on this event.
What Is A Night Fright?
Night frights are when some birds, especially cockatiels, are startled during the night and begin flapping their wings in their cages in a panic mode. Cockatiels are not able to see in the dark and when they experience a night fright and frantically crash into their cage bars and toys trying to escape, it is a scary scene. I have four birds, two cockatiels and two budgies all in separate cages but in close proximity. I may have a domino affect if one of my birds experiences a night fright. It could set off the other birds to thrash around in their cages, even though they did not experience the night fright originally.
Results of Night Frights
During a night fright, it is possible your birds could break a wing or their feathers will become damaged, especially if one of the feathers is a "blood feather." If one of the blood feathers becomes damaged, calmly remove it. There could be some consequences if your birds have another night fright and bang the broken feather, it could continue to bleed and if not treated, mainly for smaller birds, it may cause death.
Removal of Blood Feather
To remove a blood feather, grasp the feather with a needle nose pliers (tweezers are not strong enough to work properly), near to where it enters the skin. If it is on the wing or tail, hold the wing or tail where you would be taking the feather out. With steady pressure, pull the feather straight out in the direction in which it was growing. It is better if there are two people doing this, one to hold the bird and the other to actually do the procedure. Then using your fingers, place firm pressure on the spot where the feather was removed until the bleeding subsides then stops. Using flour or cornstarch also helps stop the bleeding. It could take as long as a minute or two. If the bleeding does not stop, consider this an emergency and get your bird to the vet as soon as possible, do not waste time!
What Causes Night Frights?
It is uncertain what causes night frights. There are many possibilities. In my own experience, on occasion my birds will go through a nigh fright if there is a cockroach, ugh, running around close by their cages. My birds sense the movement, and the commotion would set them off. Other possibilities are there is something in the environment that startles the sleeping birds, lights from passing cars shining through the windows of your home, a stream of air that may come across the birds cage during the night, maybe from a draft, an air conditioner, fan that could startle your birds or even a barking dog. A lot of attention is drawn to birds having nightmares. But, do birds dream? Some scientists say they do have dreams. Dreams…..what could they possibly be dreaming about? A number of scientific studies say birds may be dreaming about their songs. Still, there is no proof that birds share the same types of nightmares as us humans.
What To Do About Night Frights
When an attack happens to your birds, turn the lights on immediately in the room. I find speaking softly to the birds in a calming voice of reassurance, helps a tremendously. Do not try and reach inside the cage and grab your birds, this may scare them more.
One owner of a cockatiel states that they feed their bird about a half hour before lights out and cover its cage half way to help eliminate night frights.
I find by having a dim light or night light on helps immensely. The birds are able to see and feel more at ease, but still be able to sleep comfortably.
You may also try leaving soothing music on, not hard rock, during the night in the background.
If your bedroom is far from the birds, several people have purchased a transmitter, like a baby monitor and place them in the same area of their birds so they could monitor the sounds in the bird's room during the night.
So, be prepared to offer assistance if a night fright happens. Remember to talk softly and watch for any injuries. A bird can be seriously injured and can even be killed. You can lower the chances of night frights by following the helpful hints that have been shared here.