When I get up in the middle of the night, if I don’t turn on a light chances are I will bump into something.
My dog on the other hand, can see everything and anything in her path.
And cats? I’ve heard that they have fantastic in the dark vision.
But what about parrots?
What is a parrot’s vision like and can they see in the dark?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. While parrots can see in low lighting, their night vision is not great, and is in no way comparable to that of a cat. As such, parrots are most comfortable at nighttime in places in which they are familiar and comfortable, such as in their cage.
That’s the simple answer to the question, “can parrots see in the dark?”, but let’s get a little more complex.
How exactly does a parrot’s eyesight work?
What can you do to make your parrot more comfortable in the dark?
And how can you avoid disturbing your parrot in the night?
Today we will discuss all of these questions and more – so let’s not waste another minute!
How does a parrots eyesight work?
Have you ever noticed that some birds have eyes like ours that are placed close together at the front of their heads, while other birds have eyes on the sides of their heads?
The latter is the case of the parrot.
It’s called peripheral vision.
Birds that have peripheral vision, such as parrots, can still see straight ahead of them like you and I, but also have a deeper field of vision.
In fact, parrots have a field of vision of over 300 degrees, which means that they can not only see in front of them, but also to both sides.
As humans, we don’t have this unique ability.
For parrots in the wild, having this sense of peripheral vision is extremely important and a huge advantage.
Because they only have a small blindspot in the back of their head, they can always see where they are going, while at the same time keeping an eye out for food or predators.
Parrots also have better depth perception than humans.
For example, when something is right in front of you, you know exactly how far you have to reach out to grab it.
But the same is not true when objects are at a greater distance.
When you see a car in the distance, you don’t know exactly how far away it is.
A parrot, however, does.
But not only do parrots perceive depth better than humans, they also see color better.
Humans only have the ability to see three primary colors (red, green, blue), and then the mixtures that they create.
Parrots, however, can see red, blue, and green, plus violet and ultraviolet.
If parrots have such good vision, why can’t they see in the dark?
Parrots have excellent vision during the daytime, but at nighttime their vision can suffer.
This is because they have fewer light-sensing photoreceptors in their eyes (known as rods and cones).
To better understand, let’s discuss how rods and cones work.
The back part of our eye is called the retina.
This is the part of the eye that contains the cells which respond to light.
These cells are known as photoreceptors, and can be broken down into two types: rods and cones.
Rods are photoreceptors that are sensitive to changes in dark and light.
They also help us to perceive shape and movement.
With that being said, rods don’t play a large role in sensing color.
When a room is dim or dark, it is our rods that are in charge.
This is why we go “color blind” at nighttime.
Cones are not that sensitive to light, but do help us to see color – but they only work in bright light.
This is why we have a difficult time seeing in the dark.
In general, the more rods and cones you have in your retina, the better able you will be to see in the dark.
Animals like cats have more rods and cones in their retina, which allows them to see better at night.
Parrots, however, are more like humans.
They have less rods, and therefore have a more difficult time seeing at night.
Should I cover my Parrots Cage at night?
Because parrots cannot see well at night, they do the best when they are in a safe, comfortable, familiar environment (like their cage).
Leaving your parrot out at night can result in accidental injury.
Even worse, some parrots can suffer from night terrors and go into a deep panic.
If this happens and your bird is not in its cage or familiar surroundings, it can cause a great deal of harm to itself.
So should you cover your parrot’s cage at night?
The answer is that it really depends on the parrot.
For some parrots, covering the cage can protect them from night frights and provide them with a uniform darkness that helps them to sleep.
For others, they can feel suffocated and uncomfortable.
Luckily, it’s not difficult to determine which category your parrot falls into.
Try your parrot both with a cage cover like this really fantastic one from Amazon and without a cover, and monitor their reaction.
If, after a few days of sleeping with the cover on, your bird seems well rested and energetic, then a cage cover probably provides them with comfort and is the best way to go.
If, after a few days of sleeping with the cover on, your bird seems cranky, tired, or restless, than they will probably do better without it.
If you find that your bird does not sleep well with a cage cover, you can also try sleep cages (a smaller cage used specifically for sleeping) or room-darkening blinds to promote sleep.
Exactly how much darkness does your parrot need at night?
Parrots generally require between 10-12 hours of darkness and sleep each night.
Of course, this is a very generalized statement, and some parrots will require less, while others will require more.
Having said that, most parrots are from tropical or subtropical regions which see 12 hours of darkness every night.
Trying to keep your parrots on a schedule similar to their natural one is important to their well-being and happiness.
How Can I Avoid disturbing my Parrot during the night?
Because parrots cannot see easily in the dark, it’s not that difficult to frighten them.
To ensure that your parrot gets an undisturbed sleep, there are several things you can do
Most parrots have a schedule where they will sleep at nightfall.
So as soon as nightfall hits, turn off all lights around them.
Keeping lights on could distract your parrot and hinder their sleep quality.
Ensure that your parrot is in a safe place at bedtime.
In most cases, this should be the cage.
In order to get a good night sleep, your parrot will need to be free of distractions and in an environment where they feel safe.
If they are left out of the cage, curiosity may overpower sleep, and they could start to explore.
If it’s dark, and your parrot cannot see, this could lead to unnecessary accidents and injuries.
Make sure your parrot has ample water before bed.
If they wake in the middle of the night and need a drink, having their dispenser close by will allow them to rehydrate without disturbing their sleep.
If your routine is different than that of your parrots, stay quiet while they are sleeping.
Any loud noises or bright lights can disturb their sleep or even scare them.
Are parrots susceptible to declining vision?
Yes. As parrots age they, like humans, can develop cataracts within their eyes.
These can be caused by things like salmonella poisoning, infections, and vitamin deficiency.
Regular vision can also decline as a result of age, and darkness vision can decrease even more.
If you notice that your parrot is excessively blinking, has teary eyes, or has redness around their eyes, declining vision may be the cause.
In order to adapt to declining vision, the owner of the parrot may need to make some environmental changes like calling out to the parrot before approaching it and disturbing it.
In conclusion, yes parrots can see in the dark, but their vision isn’t very good.
Due to a lack of rods and cones in their retina, parrots don’t have great night vision.
As the owner of a parrot, it is therefore your job to ensure that they are conformable and safe at night.
A sleep cage, a dark room, and potentially a cage cover are the best ways to ensure that your parrot is safe and can get a good night of rest.