Night Frights

Mary-Kaye Buchtel

As wonderful as cockatiels are to live with, they do have one drawback, NIGHT FRIGHTS! From our experience, I don’t believe they waken due to a nightmare. I’m convinced most are caused by something in the environment startling a sleeping bird. The bird awakens in a panic, trying to flee. It becomes more frightened as it bangs into toys and perches. It is unable to see well enough in the dark to realize it is safe. Night frights are more frequent with more bird.

Since we hate them to thrash about in panic and pain, we’ve done our best to eliminate or at least shorten night-frights. First we installed a Radio Shack monitor. The transmitter is close to the birds’ cages, the receiver is in our bedroom, turned to low volume. The sounds of a night-fright wakes us to rush in to calm the birds and apply any necessary first aid. We originally bought units that would send and receive both ways, but they produced too much static for us to sleep. The units that are quiet enough but let us hear the birds thrashing only cost about $13. Then the birds were waking us at sun-up with their cheery celebrations. Since we’re not really morning people, we solved that by putting the receiver on a time. The transmitter is always on, but the timer has the receiver on only between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Besides stopping panics, we also do our best to PREVENT them. One thing we found causing night-frights were gaping curtains, allowing flashes of light to startle the birds. Passing car lights and lightening have both frightened them. My “expensive” cure for this problem is to clip the curtains tightly closed with a clothespin when I shut them at night. This one solution eliminated most of our night-frights.