new parakeet scared new parakeet doesn't move

Parakeet night terrors/night frights

Night terrors, which you’ve probably heard of in human children, also happen to many species of parrots. Cockatiels seem to be most commonly afflicted, but it can happen to parakeets as well so it’s important to be prepared.

One can almost never be entirely sure of the origin of the night terror, it could be that the budgie is waking from a bad dream, or that he opened his eyes during the night and saw a scary shadow or a bug. They are definitely primed to be freaked out after dark to begin with because they are prey animals and they know it.

The night terrors that Toby had were alarming for both of us. I would be woken in the middle of the night by the sounds of Toby crashing around in her cage, flying around madly and blindly into the cage bars without being able to stop herself. This can be extremely dangerous because a parakeet can severely injure himself, possibly fatally.

I’m lucky that our house is all on one level and I’m not very far from the cage at night, even though it’s in the dining area. I really don’t know what to suggest to someone who’s birds sleep on a different floor than they do, short of a Baby Monitor, although that might seem excessive!

At any rate, I would wake up to the sounds of Toby crashing around and bolt out of bed to the dining room. To calm the parakeet down bring up the lights a bit and speak very gently to him – as soon as the lights come up enough he will probably stop flying around, but he may seem dazed and not recognize you.

I never advocate putting your hands in the cage after dark, so I don’t advise taking your bird out to comfort him. I firmly believe that in this state there’s no guarantee he will know who you are and find your touch comforting instead of more alarming. I did, after a particularly awful fright, feed Toby a little millet through the bars to lure her out of a bad spot.

The best way to handle it, at least for us, has been to leave the lights glowing just a bit more brightly than usual and once the parakeet has settled down and is in a safe place to go back to sleep, go back to bed and try to calm yourself down enough to sleep.

Also, it’s a good idea to have a nightlight or two for your parakeet to help them not be so scared when they wake in the middle of the night. We went a little overboard with Night Lights and for a while the kitchen looked like an airport runway. We’ve since scaled back to a more reasonable amount.

I’ve read that night frights can also be a symptom of calcium deficiency so if you find your parakeet having continued issues make sure you have a Mineral Block and Cuttlebone and watch out for feeding excessive amounts of spinach which binds with calcium and can lead to a calcium deficiency.

Toby had four night terrors in the first 8 months we had her, three of those we were not able to determine the cause (although I suspect mice), and one of them was absolutely my fault. I came out of the bedroom in the middle of the night and because I had my glasses off I stood next to her cage for a prolonged period trying to find her. She of course woke up and completely freaked out, who wouldn’t with some lunatic starting at you while you sleep?

Toby hasn’t had a night terror since we got our second parakeet, Kelly – I’m not sure if having a roommate makes her feel more secure, she does always want to sleep where she can see Kelly. Actually I think Toby would prefer to sleep snuggled up to Kelly, but Kelly’s not having any part of that!

The bottom lines are that you should have night lights and a mineral block for your parakeet, but they may still have the occasional unexplained night fright. The only thing you can do is get to the cage as quickly as possible, turn up the lights a bit, and speak soothingly to your parakeet until he calms down.

16 thoughts on “Parakeet night terrors/night frights”

  1. Very good advice! A
    s a young person, I suffered from night terrors and this is what my parents did. It is not suggested to slap or shake a person who is having the night terrors; therefore, your suggestion of not handling the bird is 100 percent correct.

  2. Our parakeets had night fright a couple of nights in a row. The wind kicked a hanging bird feeder outside their window. One of our birds lost all of his long flight feathers on one side so he couldn’t fly. And I wouldn’t allow him out of the cage for three to four weeks. We’re on the same level but I bought a baby monitor.

    On a side note, they are very use to seeing me stare at them several times a night.

  3. Sweet Georgia peaches, thank you so very much I have 3 parakeets and they would wake me up flying all over the cage. I had a time calming them down. Now I know what to do, I have night terrors, but I have PTSD so I know what to do with me. Thank you again I’m gonna to take your advice and get it done.

    1. I’m so sorry about the loss of your parakeet. It could have been a night fright, if so you might see evidence that your bird had flown around the cage in the middle of the night, like lost feathers or signs of things being disturbed.

      These little guys tend to hide illness really well though, too, so it’s completely possible your parakeet died of an illness overnight, or another natural cause like heart failure or stroke.

      I’m so sorry, again.

  4. It could be a mouse. My parakeets were frightened when they saw a mouse in the house. The mouse was trying to eat around the cage.

    1. That’s a great point! Especially during winter when mice may be tempted to move inside and scavenge around bird cages.

  5. I thought I did enough research before I brought home my 2 little friends, but I never came across anything on night terrors in parakeets. They were both so lively before I went to bed, but when I woke up this morning my little blue guy (Reggie) was on the bottom of the cage. It really broke my heart! I look over at the cage now and it’s so quiet; usually they’d be chirping away. I’m going to run out right now and buy a low watt nightlight. Thank you for this information.

    1. Hi Anthony,

      I’m so sorry to hear about Reggie! I’m glad that the post helped you learn about night terrors and I hope that the addition of a nightlight will ensure your little guys never have another one!

      Best wishes,

  6. 9:56 PM, I was just updating my computer as my birds suddenly go flying like crazy. Glad they’re ok, it’s only minutes after it happened. We do t know if they suffered any injuries yet.

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