You should buy the largest cage your budget and home can accommodate. Just make sure the bar spacing and positioning are appropriate for your bird. Most parrot-type birds (such as parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds, conures, amazons and macaws) need to climb around in their cages for exercise, so horizontal as well as vertical bars are essential. Also, be certain that your bird cannot get its head stuck between the bars. (Old-fashioned, ornate, decorative cages are not appropriate for this very reason and also because these antique cages were often constructed of toxic metals.)
Place the cage in a draft-free area of a room which receives plenty of indirect sunshine. (Make
sure part of the cage is always in the shade.) Your den or family room is usually a good choice because birds love to watch the comings and goings of their human "flock members." However, if your family room is unusually noisy, or if you have small children who frequent the room without adult supervision, select another room for your bird's home.
Do not put the cage in your kitchen, because smoke and cooking fumes are extremely harmful -- birds' tiny respiratory systems are very delicate, and much different from our own.
Birds are on their feet 24 hours a day -- they even sleep standing up. So provide perches of different thicknesses for good foot health. A good choice is natural branches of hard, safe woods like manzanita and ribbonwood, which are available from many pet shops. Never use sand-paper covered perches, because they can severely damage birds' feet.
One of the keys to a healthy bird is good cage keeping. Keep your bird's cage clean by lining the slide-out bottom of its cage with newspaper (black and white only; colored ink can be toxic). Replace this lining every day. Then, also on a daily basis, wash your bird's food and water bowls in hot, sudsy water and rinse them thoroughly in hot water. Dry the food dish completely before you place new food in it, because damp food quickly breeds life-threatening molds and bacteria. It is a convenience to have two sets of food and water bowls; it it easier to be sure the new, clean bowls are completely dry.
Once a week, disinfect your bird's home by washing the slide-out tray in a chlorine solution (follow bottle directions carefully) and rinsing thoroughly with warm water. (Make sure your bird is in another room of the house and supervised by another person -- or in another cage -- while you do this. Your bird should never be exposed to any chemicals.) Then you need to clean the rest of the cage. If it's relatively small, you may want to place the whole thing in the bath tub and wash the plastic parts in the chlorine solution, then rinse thoroughly in warm water. Chlorine can pit or discolor brass and other metals, so you'll probably want to wash these metal parts with hot soapy water instead, then rinse until the water runs clear.
If your bird's cage is too large to place in the tub, clean it where it stands. (Again, your bird should not be in the cage while you do this.) Use a sponge and a bucket of hot soapy water to wash it down. Rinse with a clean sponge soaked in fresh water. For extra disinfecting, dampen paper towels with rubbing alcohol and give the entire cage a wipe down, then rinse thoroughly again afterwards.
Q.What size cage do I need to get for my bird?
A. Get the largest you can possibly afford. This is where the bird will spend a great deal of it's time. A good rule of thumb is that the bird should be able to stretch out its wings fully in at least one direction. Note that "outstretched wing length" refers to the span of the *unclipped* wings.
Q. Is bar spacing important?
A. Yes. If it is too large, a smaller bird could hang itself. 1 3/16 is a good space for medium birds and 1 3/8 is good for larger. 3/4 inch spacing is fine for cockatiels, smaller than that for finches. (respectively 3.02, 3.50, and 1.90 cm)
Q. What about horizontal vs. vertical bars?
A. Horizontal bars are nice for the birds because they're easy to climb. Vertical bars make it hard to climb, but don't fray long tail feathers. Cages are now available that have vertical front and back bars and horizontal side bars. This should please everyone.
Q. What kind of metal is used for the cages?
A. Anodized aluminum, Brass, stainless steel, wrought iron. For some of the smaller cages for less destructive birds, wood and clear acrylic sheeting, like Plexiglas(TM), may be used.
Q. I'd like a colored cage...can I get one?
A. Some cages are available with a "powder coat finish" so you can get them in different colors, however, birds can eventually gnaw the finish off. There are epoxy painted cages as well. Some cages come in wood cabinets, and you can order custom designs to match your decor.
Q. Do I need a wrought iron cage with those fancy curlicues?
A. Nope. The fancy stuff can be hard to clean, and the bird can get caught in it.
Q. What's a knock down cage?
A. It's a cage that comes shipped flat and unassembled. Nut and bolt assemblies hold it together. Be careful if you have a mechanically inclined bird, it might loosen screws. Check the every so often. One piece cages are just that. They're completely assembled and welded together.
Q. I've seen great deals on cages, should I get one?
A. Sure, as long as it's sturdy and safe. Check for sharp corners, poor latches, shoddy paint. Paint can be toxic and if the bird gnaws on it disaster could ensue. Look at the welds. Are they smooth and virtually invisible? Give the cage a good shake. Does it stand firm, or sway precariously? This is your bird's house we're talking about, here. When in doubt, don't buy it. Be extra careful about imported cages, they can be painted with lead paint or be shoddily made. One thing that is often ignored is the tray in the bottom of the cage. Make sure it has smooth, finished edges. I recently came across a cage that looked great, until I pulled out the tray. It was simply a piece of galvanized metal with a front lip. The back and sides weren't finished, and they were rather sharp. Even with a grate, I wouldn't use such a tray. Improbable accidents do happen, and I wouldn't want my birds to lose a toe or worse because I wanted to save a few bucks.
Q. I don't have the money for a new cage, how about a used one?
A. As long as the bird didn't die of some contagious disease, it should be fine. Disinfect the cage thoroughly. One text I came across suggests taking a portable blowtorch and searing the cage. This would definitely kill any yuckies, but would melt anything other than a thick steel or iron cage. A disinfectant used in aviaries would probably be great.
Q. Where should the cage be placed?
A. Never in direct sunlight! But a bright area close to the hubbub of your household is ideal. There should be no drafts of hot or cold air. The kitchen, due to fumes, flames, and such is a poor idea. Dreary basements are a poor choice too. A finished basement is fine, as long as it's not damp and has good circulation and there's action going on that the bird can be part of.
Q. Do I really need to cover the cage?
A. Depends on the bird. Birds, like people, need undisturbed sleep. If the bird is in a room you can darken, then no, you don't need a cover. Sometimes, the bird may be scared of the covered cage. Other times, birds may refuse to go to sleep if the cage isn't covered, and will holler for it. If you turn down the heat in your house at night, covering the cage is really a good idea. You can get custom covers made to fit any size or shape or use a sheet or a blanket. Covering a cage can help reduce screaming at the break of day.
Q. How do I clean the bird's cage?
A. Cold, soapy water, chlorine bleach, and a sponge work well for everyday cleanups. Bleach losesits disinfecting strength in hot water and when in contact with organic matter. Therefore, clean as much of the fecal material and food off of the cage, etc. as possible before wiping down with the bleach. For a more through cleaning (e.g. once a week) you may want to use some sort of disinfectant. Popular disinfectants include:
- Virkon S
- Vionex (was called Vironox-9)
- Uses of Oxyfresh - recommendations by Gregory A. Rich D.V.M.
- Cleansing gel (1/2 oz per quart of water)
- inactivates Polyoma Virus
- removes dried fecal material and urates from cages and feed bowls
- removes blood and fecal stains from clothing
- excellent disinfecting solution for handfeeding tools, cages, brooders, and counters
- 1:500 dilution kills NewCastle Virus and Canine Parvovirus
- mixing instructions: add 1/4 tsp. (2 grams) of granules to 1/4 tlb. (19 cc) of liquid, set for 10 minutes, then fill to make 1/2 gallon of water (1:200 dilution)
- regular mouthrinse
- excellent to clean and disinfect baby bird mouths out after handfeeding (mix 1:1 with water)
- Oxyfresh Gel
- aids in some cases of "feather picking" (mix 1 part oxyfresh gel to 4 parts water in a spray bottle)
- aids in wound healing and in healing of minor burns, cuts and insect bites
- Cleansing gel (1/2 oz per quart of water)
When using disinfectants make sure you know what it will and won't kill, and how long you must leave it in contact with the surface to do the job. This is very important. Finally rinse the cage, etc. well, and make sure that everything is dry before putting the bird back.
Q. What should I use for as a tray liner?
A. There are several options, and much debate over what is best. You could use: no liner, gravel paper, plain newsprint paper, shavings, processed cobs, newspaper. Birds should not ingest any of the above, although plain paper isn't harmful, it will get soiled. A grid above the tray will prevent ingestion of liner material and any dropped and soiled food. Newspaper itself is not toxic, but some inks are. You can call your local paper to find out what type of ink they use. Soy-based inks are non-toxic. No liner means you've got to scrub out the pan, to which the poop has probably cemented itself. Processed cobs can actually be used with or without a grid, but make sure your bird doesn't eat them. There is commercially prepared gravel paper, but it's hard to find in the larger sizes and the gravel usually doesn't stick to it very well, and ends up all over.
***HELP! My bird is an escape artist!***
Sammy, the green-cheeked conure (Pyrrhura molinae) kept escaping from his cage via the sliding door, and the food accesses. I "wired" them shut with Quick Links(TM)--c-type links. They were easier than messing with those plastic "pine tree" type garbage bag ties. You may have to use padlocks with larger birds. However, some of them are *very* mechanically inclined (especially Cockatoos) and may very well pick the lock. For the die hard cases, use combination locks.
SOURCES FOR CAGES:
1954 Kellogg Ave., Suite B
Carlsbad, CA 92008
1-888-553-BIRD (2473) or (760) 438-4442
Fax: (760) 438-6636
|Bird N' Ways Listings|
|California Cages, Inc.|
P.O. Box 6018
Altadena, CA 91003
|Clearly Exotics Aviary Products|
The Feather Farm, Inc.
1181 Fourth Avenue
Napa, CA 94559
2001E. Gladstone Sy. Suite "D"
Glendora, CA 91740
|Kings Cages, L.P.|
145 Sherwood Avenue
Farmingdale, NY 11735 USA
|Morton Jones Co.|
Order Desk 1-800-443-5769
Fax: (619) 789-2740
|Safeguard Products, Inc.|
PO Box 8
New Holland, PA 17557-0008
|Swelland's Cage & Supply Co.|
312 13th St.
Ramona, CA. 92065
|The Pet Ranch|
3015 Pioneer Way
Jamul, CA 91935
(619) 669 - 1089
1336 North Third Ave.
Upland, CA 91786
(909) 920-9820 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|The paper is absorbant and comes in neutral color or brown stock. Individual sheets are $0.15 (this covers shipping) for the neutral color and slightly higher for the brown stock paper.|
Q. What kinds of perch(es) does my bird need?
A. Your bird needs an assortment of perches of varying diameter, to provide exercise, to prevent foot injuries and such ailments as sores and arthritis.
Q. Where should the perches go?
A. Your bird should be able to climb all over his cage, so place the perches accordingly. Stagger them, and make sure there's enough clearance for the bird to sit up comfortably. Nobody likes to bonk their head!
Q. What can the perch be made of?
A. Wood--the plain round ones are everywhere. There's manzanita and madrone, maple, and apple wood. They can be made from PVC and from acrylic, like Plexiglas(TM) but these should be sanded slightly to roughen up the otherwise slick surface. There are rope perches, there are even concrete perches, like Polly Perfect(TM) which help to keep beak and nails in trim.
Q. What shape should the perch be?
A. They range from round to flat to elliptical. Provide at least two different shapes. The different shapes and textures keeps muscles healthy, nails trimmed and prevents sores on the feet. T-stand type perches are useful aides in the training of your birds.
Q. What about those sandpaper perches?
A. Okay, but make absolutely certain the bird has another perch to sit on. Or only cover half the perch with the sandpaper cover.
Q. Rope perches in the pet store are expensive! Can I get them elsewhere?
A. Sure. It was posted to the net that they can be purchased at boating suppliers. Make sure you get all cotton-rope that hasn't been treated with chemicals. Ropes are great for feather-pickers, but watch out for fraying, and replace the rope when it gets too frizzy. Booda Bones(TM) makes Byrdy Cable(R) rope bird perches if you'd rather buy them from a pet store.
Q. Can I make my own perches?
A. Definitely. Use wood that you know is untreated, and cure it. Make sure there's no bugs or anything nasty like that in or on the wood. Cure it until it's thoroughly dried out. Leave the bark on, birds love to peel it off. Here is a listing of the most commonly used wood for making perches.
SOURCES FOR PERCHES:
Manufacturers of cages will often offer perches. Manufacturers of toys will sometimes offer perches.
6350 LBJ Freeway #151
Dallas, Tx 75240
800-256-7265 or 972-239-2473
|Bird N' Ways Listings|
|California Driftwood, LLC|
P.O. Box 672
Lockeford, CA 95237
|Feathered Kids 'N Stuff|
P.O. Box 54099
Cincinnati, OH 45254
Fax: (513) 753-8351
|Pet Bird Xpress|
3330 Seldon Court - Unit 3
Fremont, CA 94539
800-729-7734 or 510-659-1030
"Unique & Extraordinary Products for Pet Birds and Their Humans"
|The Play Pipes Co.|
3670 Ridgeview Road
Ijamsville, MD, USA
Fax: (301) 865-5426