To set the scene, your bird is sound asleep at his/her usual time. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, you are awakened by chaos in the birdcage. If you are frightened, imagine how your bird feels.
Night fears can affect any bird, but it appears to be more common in cockatiels. When a frightened bird flaps around in the cage, it can be dangerous. Since parrots can’t see well in the dark, hanging toys, mirrors, perches, all become obstacles that can injure your bird.
Although not much is known about what causes these fears, here are some things that can frighten your bird – rodents or insects; lights from passing cars; drafts causing curtains or other object to move; shadows; night noises; your cat approaching the cage or your dog barking.
As prey creatures, birds sleep with half their brain on alert. Pet birds possibly sleep more deeply as they feel more secure. If they are awakened suddenly it can be quite scary for them.
You can try to avoid these night frights by placing your bird in a cage reserved for sleep time that contains only a perch and perhaps a bit of food and water. Set the cage in a relatively quiet room. Replace curtains with blinds and be sure to close them at night. Keep a small night light on in the room so that it won’t disturb the bird’s sleep, but in case s/he awakens, it’s not totally dark.
To calm your bird during a fright, speak softly, slowly approaching the cage. Your soft, calm voice and your presence will help your bird to calm down. Make sure to check the cage and the room to see if you can discover what might have caused the problem. And if you can, remove the offending object.