Dr. Laurie: So frequently owners will ask us, "How much sleep does my bird really need?" And the answer is really not a simple one. I mean just the way different people need different amounts of sleep, so do birds. Some birds require very little sleep and they'll adapt to their owner's schedules. I know I sleep very little and my bird stays up very late, and he's done fine for a number of years. Other owners will say their bird must have 12 hours of sleep or the bird won't be right. I don't think there's a hard and fast rule. I think that birds really adapt to their owner's schedules, even more so than you would expect.
Sarah: Absolutely, birds do seem very flexible as far as their sleep schedules go. In fact, one of the only times that I've heard of birds needing specific hours of time is maybe when we're working with them behaviorally for reproductive situations. Where maybe we encourage the people to have the birds get as much sleep as possible, to simulate a wintertime type of situation, where birds wouldn't be breeding and wouldn't be having babies. Other than that, my birds to very well on, very little or a whole lot of sleep. They don't seem to have a problem either way.
Dr. Laurie: I think that the key is routine. If your bird doesn't sleep that many hours, maybe you don't want to change that schedule all the time. Birds in general need repetition and routine. They're kind of like toddlers in that sense. I know even with my own bird's sleeping patterns, we have a quiet time. My bird actually has a cage that is his sleeping cage. So he knows when he goes from his daytime cage to his sleeping cage, soon we're going to turn off the light and go to sleep. And he may hang out in the sleeping cage for a little while as we watch television, and it's kind of winding down time.
But as soon as those lights go out, he knows it's time to sleep. And he does not make a sound until the next morning when the sun rises. Some people will change their bird's cages as I do, some people will just cover their bird's cages. But whatever you choose to do, try to do it the same every day, so that the bird can expect what's coming. They have more control over their environment that way. They're not startled. They're not uncomfortable and just keep to the same pattern if you can, each day.