Are Parrots Nocturnal? (Answered!)

On New Years Eve I ended up staying awake until 7am, this meant my entire body clock was out of sync with the day time.

I briefly ended up as a nocturnal human, waking at night and sleeping during the day.

I often heard owls hooting in the garden and this got me thinking … are parrots nocturnal?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. The majority of parrots are diurnal, meaning awake during the day, However, there are a few species of nocturnal parrots but these are rare breeds.

For the most part then your parrot will be awake when you are; unless you, yourself are nocturnal.

But there is much more to know about parrot sleeping patterns so here is all the information you might need on parrot and sleep.


Which species of parrot are nocturnal?

There are two known species of parrot that are nocturnal.

The first being the rare Kakapo, which is quite unique in the bird world for a multitude of reasons.

It is not only nocturnal but also the world’s heaviest breed of parrot and the only flightless parrot.

The Kakapo, also known as the Owl Parrot, is a ground dwelling creature native to New Zealand.

It is also the only parrot to have a polygynous lek breeding system, as opposed to a monogamous system, and can live for up to 100 years.

Unfortunately this species is critically endangered.

The other species is one thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 2005; The Night Parrot.

This illusive parrot had not been spotted since 1979 before this and it was not until 2015 that one was able to be captured and tagged.

Native to Australia, sightings of this species were so rare it has also been classed as an endangered species. 


Can you own a nocturnal parrot?

Due to the rarity of the two known nocturnal species it is unlikely that you will be able to purchase one for your own amusement.

Nocturnal parrots have not been domesticated, therefore, the only parrot you will find that is awake at night is one that has drastically had its sleep pattern altered.


How long will my parrot sleep for?

Unless you happen to own one of the nocturnal parrots mentioned above, your parrot will likely sleep for a 10 – 12 hour cycle.

They will sleep from dusk until dawn due to their tropical background, however, this can vary depending on the breed.

Parrots from further away from the equator will sleep more in winter and less in summer.

Remember baby parrots may need to sleep for longer as they are growing!


Can I make my parrot nocturnal?

You can alter the time a parrot is awake to suit your life but bear in mind it will need to still have 10 to 12 hours sleep when it does go to bed.

Make sure the room is dark to simulate night time or you may find your parrot will still wake at dawn.

You can cover the cage to allow it to sleep for longer in the dark but remember to take the cover off again.

You cannot change the parrot to be completely nocturnal but tweaking its sleeping pattern so it is awake for longer towards the evening is possible.


Will changing their sleeping pattern affect my parrot?

Some parrots may react less favorably to having their sleeping pattern changed.

As with humans, sometimes interrupting them during their sleep might lead to a grumpy pet.

They might be happy to wake up and play with you but if they are clearly sleepy and you wake them you may find your parrot is groggy and out of sorts the next day.


What are some benefits of changing the sleep cycle?

Changing their sleep schedule can have an effect on your birds’ reproductive system.

Most owners are not looking to breed their parrots so it can become a problem if their bird begins to exhibit breeding behaviors.

Some people report their parrot begins biting them or becomes aggressive, particularly the Amazon breed of parrot.

You can change the light exposure so they are only awake 8 – 10 hours a day, this may help calm breeding needs.

However, it’s less effective on species native to the areas closer to the equator.


Is my parrot sleeping too much?

If your parrot is sleeping for more than 12 hours a day, without your intervention, this may be a sign that something is wrong.

There are many signs to look out for to tell if your parrot is poorly;

Ruffled feathers

Mature parrots sleeping on the floor of their cage

Falling off their perch

Your parrot may be sleep deprived in which case they may be excessively plucking feathers, screaming or being aggressive.

Try and help them get back into a normal sleep pattern but if symptoms don’t improve then take them to the vet.


Where should my parrot sleep?

I have mentioned a cage previously and shared one option; a cage covering.

This can be used to simulate darkness for the bird and is also used if they need calming at any point.

However, there is a downside that this can possibly cause night terrors for the bird.

Whilst this is purely anecdotal it is advisable to leave a slight gap in the covering so some light can get through.

The other option is a sleep cage, these should be placed in a dark quiet room away from socializing.

These cages are slightly smaller than a standard cage and are a good option if you have space for it.


Should your parrot sleep with you?

It is definitely not advisable to let your parrot sleep in your bed with you.

This is for the sheer fact you could roll over and hurt them, which obviously is not ideal.

You can sleep with your parrot in your bedroom if you wish and don’t have any allergies.

For the most part as long as the room is dark and you don’t mind the possibility of being woken up at dawn then there is no reason not to.


What positions do parrots sleep in?

The parrot may sleep in a position similar to that of a flamingo where the bird is upright but has one foot tucked into its feathers.

This is completely stable and you shouldn’t worry about it falling.

The other position is with its head tucked into feathers.

Both of these positions conserve body heat and keep the bird toasty while asleep.


Natural sunlight vs UV light?

Ideally, your parrot should get some exposure to natural light at least once a day.

This means going outside with them for a few hours; 4 to 6 hours is ideal but even a couple of hours is better than none.

They don’t necessarily need to be in bright sunlight just an unobstructed view of the sky; no screens or glass as many are treated to block out UV light.

You are incredibly unlikely to have a nocturnal species of parrot as both the Night Parrot and Kakapo are very rare and endangered.

You can, however, alter your bird’s sleep cycle to make it slightly more nocturnal in order to suit your lifestyle.

Remember though parrots have a set schedule for a reason and messing with it too much may cause distress.

If you are struggling to fit in time for your pet then you may need to make some changes to accommodate them.

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