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Night Fright/Night Thrashing

Night Fright/Night Thrashing is a behavior displayed when pet birds experience anxiety attacks.


Avian panic attacks that usually happen in the middle of the night.


Some species, especially cockatiels, are famous for night frights, though they can happen with any species. Experts are not sure why cockatiels are so prone to such behaviors. Night frights are also triggered by such things as mice moving around the environment at night. They can be physically dangerous if a bird flails badly and breaks a large number of blood feathers, or is caged in a large enough space that it can build up sufficient speed to hurt itself as it slams against the side of a flight.


Some situations are alleviated with night lights, and others are helped with the judicious use of an exterminator if you suspect that rodents might be startling your bird during the night. Note that birds should be removed from the space prior to having an exterminator treat the environment.

Disclaimer:’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

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Night Fright/Night Thrashing

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Reader Comments
I have a parrot with this problem. It is a rescue and the previous home must have been very stressful for it. While it is hearsay, supposedly there were frequent animal battles at the previous home (cats randomly fighting or jumping on bird cages, dogs barking at all hours). So this bird was rescued from that war and now I have it. But it must have recurring nightmares about some of the battles it experienced because it wakes up and starts flapping around and making tons of noise. Sometimes I'll wake up to hearing, "Johnny!!!! Nooooooo!" So I usually run in and turn on the light and the bird calms down. One time when I walked in I saw the bird jump to the bottom of the cage and put its wing over its face and it yelled, "Under fire!". I don't know what that was all about.
Alvin, Crappenschnitzel
Posted: 1/22/2014 8:14:22 AM
Over the years, as my cockatiel adapted to her surroundings, night frights have become almost none. I am able to temporarily turn on a light which stops the thrashing, so a night light probably would help.

But, she still does day thrashing when she wants attention, or wants treats.
Larry, San Antonio, TX
Posted: 9/21/2012 6:23:22 PM
Elaine, Darien, IL
Posted: 9/25/2010 12:29:32 PM
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