Housing And Cages For Parrots
Bird Cages: Size, Safety, and Design
Parrots, especially because of
their high intelligence level and complex emotions, do not belong in cages
at all except when sleeping at night, or for those times when there is no
one available to monitor them. For a parrot to be locked in a cage for
extended periods on a regular basis constitutes animal abuse in our
opinion. Parrots should be given, if at all possible, a large outside
"free-flight" aviary space. Lots of "outside the cage" time, both indoors
and outdoors, is absolutely necessary to their mental and physical
Parrots that are placed in an outside environment, where
they can receive natural sunlight, fresh air, and rain, will live
considerably longer than parrots that are strictly "inside birds". This
will in no way adversely affect their companion qualities, but will result
in healthier and happier birds all around.
"As far as I'm concerned, a
BIGGER house is a BETTER house!"
Choosing a good "House" for your
There are a
number of important considerations when choosing a cage for your bird, but
perhaps the most important, from both the physical and pyschological
health perspectives, is the cage's SIZE. The
rule is simple: no creature, including humans, likes to be confined in a
small space! Don't put your bird in what amounts to a "jail-cell"! The
cage must allow the bird space to spread it's wings and flap without
hitting anything. And it must be large enough to accomodate long tail
feathers, and allow the bird to turn around without its tail feathers
constantly brushing the sides of the cage.
smaller birds, such as canaries and finches, also need to be able to fly
from perch to perch, as this is necessary for their well being. A good
rule of thumb is that a cage should be, at least, TWO, and better yet,
THREE, times the the length of the bird's wing-span, in all
directions. Yes, I realize this is probably larger than what many people
have or buy (especially considering the cost of a quality cage!), but as
soon as you can afford it, I would urge you to give your bird the best
possible house! This is a main ingredient in your bird's happiness and
contentment, just as it is for humans.
Next, the SPACING of the bars on the cage must allow for the
"GRIP-SPAN" of the bird's FEET, as well as the SIZE of the bird's HEAD. If
the bars are too far apart, the bird will not be able to grip the bars
properly and get around without slipping or maybe even falling. Also, the
bird should not be encouraged, because of too wide a bar spacing, to stick
its head through the bars and risk getting it trapped. On the other hand,
if the bars are too close, then there is a risk of feet and/or toenails
getting hung up/broken. When a bird becomes hung-up or trapped, it will
panic and thrash about wildly, resulting in serious injury, or even death!
So make sure the bar spacing is right for your bird. Also, when placing
toys, dishes, perches, and other items in the cage, make sure you don't
create an area where the bird can get trapped or get its feet, head or
Small birds (Canaries, Finches, Budgies): 3/8 inch to 7/16 inch.
Small parrots (Cockatiels, Conures, Senegals): 1/2 inch to 3/4
Medium Size Parrots (African Greys, Amazons, Smaller
Cockatoos, Smaller Macaws, Eclectus, Ringneck, Larger Conures): 3/4
inch to 1 inch.
Large Parrots (Cockatoos, Macaws, Larger
Eclectus, Larger Amazons) 3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch
The MATERIALS used in the
cage's construction are also an important consideration. Cages, and all
their parts, must be made of materials that can withstand the chewing
ability of the bird. Plastic and wood may survive ok for smaller parrots
like Budgies, but the medium to large parrots like Macaws, Amazons,
African Greys, Conures, and Cockatoos, can easily destroy such materials.
Stainless steel, wrought iron, and heavier guage wire, will be the way to
go with these larger birds. Also, consider that birds are very good at
learning how to undo latches and "doors", so think about the way these
items are constructed, and how you will secure them. Also, make sure that
all materials, both the cage materials and any items you place in the
cage, are non-toxic (see below, "Dangers"). Avoid cages with any sharp
edges or "burrs" on the metal. Sloppy welding and non-matching paint may
indicate non-factory work that could present a lead and poison risk, so
avoid such cages. If you buy a used cage, check for repainting, and if
found, don't buy it.
Most cages will have a "grating" and pull-out
tray in the bottom for ease in cleaning. The grating should, ideally, be
far enough above the floor "catch tray" so the bird will not be able to
pick through food that has fallen down among the droppings, or chewing on
any tray "liner" material. Some cages, also, have larger "shields"
around/below the base to minimize debris on the floor around the cage.
This is a real help with "messy" and "picky" birds!
elaborate cages, with "playgrounds", perches, feeders, and trays on the
top, give the bird a good place to stay occupied when outside the cage.
The top tray also prevents droppings from falling into the food and water
in the cage below. However, it may be better to establish a "play" and
outside perching area away from the cage from a psychological point of
view, as a top perch above the cage may make the bird more territorial,
feel more dominant, and hard to handle. At any rate, the cage's height
should not allow the bird to be higher than you are. In general, birds
will almost always step "up" to you, but it's harder to get them to step
"down" to you.
Bird Safety: Dangers And Things
Avoid cages and cage items that contain brass,
zinc, lead, or copper. These metals can present a poison risk to your
Brass can sometimes be found on certain accessories and
Zinc, highly toxic, can be found on galvanized cage wires, in
"anti-rust" primer paints, chrome, keys, zippers, toy chains and snaps,
certain shampoos and skin preparations, padlocks, nails and screws, and
Lead is another "heavy metal" that, like zinc, can
produce drastic results when the bird ingests it. Common sources are
paint, the lead frames of stained glass windows & tiffany lamps,
fishing weights, lead solder, weighted ashtrays, pewter, curtain weights,
lead-acid batteries, foil from champagne, and some toys.
in copper pots may leach out some of the metal, and copper pipes and pipe
fittings may increase the amount of copper in the drinking water
There are so many potential sources for these "poisons" in our
environment and homes, that it is difficult to name them all. Heavy metal
poisoning will make a bird extremely ill, can cause seizures, convulsions,
and death. If your bird looses its coordination and balance, or is falling
off its perch a lot, then take the bird to a vet right away to see if
there is heavy metal poisoning. Take all possible means to assure that the
cage and its accessories are free of these metals.
steel, and iron are generally safe.
A good rule is: If in doubt, don't
Cage doors that lift vertically and can suddenly fall back
down hard should be avoided. If they fall on your bird it could injure
toes, feet, neck, or head. With a smaller bird they could maybe even break
its neck. Avoid these doors if possible, or make sure they are secured
against accidental closure if the bird is loose and going in and out of
the cage. Birds are very good at lifting these type doors and scooting out
underneath, but this is dangerous and the bird could really get hurt.
Doors that swing out or slide sideways are a better