Night Thrashing and UBE's - - - by Liz Davies (aka "Mom")


Night Thrashing

My first cockatiel went through a period of night-time seizures when he was about a year old.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night to hear him flapping violently and screaming in his cage.  He calmed down after I turned on the light and talked to him, but would clearly be a bit “shaken up”.

It took us a while, but I eventually determined that they occurred mostly when he’d managed to get a bite of something that had sugar in it (I’d been giving him graham crackers).  Once the source of sugar was removed, the night thrashes ceased.

Since then, I never allow my birds to eat any foods with sugar.

There have been other incidents of nighttime disturbances, but only the cockatiels seem to have them, and only once in a while. 

UBE (Unidentified Bird Emergency)

I’d love to know who first coined this term.

You’re sitting in your family room with your bird.  Everyone is relaxed and happy.  And “it” happens.  The bird freaks out, flaps and flies around the room screaming it’s head off.  Then, as suddenly as “it” started, “it” is over.  The bird lands, pants a bit (maybe), but settles back down more or less as before.  You are left wondering what happened.

It’s even more fun with multiple birds – although I’ve yet to see a UBE in which they all participate – there is almost always one who sits it out and never appears to be disturbed.

There’s a variation of this phenomenon.  It doesn’t have a name as far as I know, but birds are not the only ones who do it.  I’ve known cats to do this:  

You’re sitting with your bird and suddenly it looks up and stares intently at “something” which is hovering just above your head.  This “something” is clearly fascinating, because the bird looks and looks at it.  You’re thinking “there must be a bug on the wall behind me”, but that’s when you notice some of the other birds gazing at “it”, too. 

I will not attempt to offer an explanation.  You are free to come up with your own.