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CAGES

Your bird's cage is her home, so you want to be certain to provide her with the very best and largest one possible. Bird cages come in a wide variety of styles, shapes and sizes. Several questions need to be considered when purchasing a cage:

  • What type of bird do you have?
  • What will be your bird's size when she becomes an adult?
  • Will your bird be caged all of the time, or will she be allowed out?
  • Will you be housing more than one bird in the cage?
One of the most important considerations is that the cage be of adequate size for your bird. After all, she will spend the greater part of her life in this cage. A good rule of thumb is to buy the largest cage you can afford. This is particularly true when dealing with larger species, such as Parrots and Macaws.

For example, a Macaw requires a cage at least 36"w x 36"d x 60"h with metal bars spaced no greater than 1" apart. This allows your bird plenty of space to exercise and will result in a healthier bird.

At the very least, your bird should be able to fully spread both wings without touching the sides of her cage. Shape also bears an influence on size. For birds like Finches and Canaries, a cage that is elongated horizontally will give them optimum opportunity for flight. Budgerigars and Parrots, on the other hand, like to climb and do well in tall cages. Some elaborately shaped cages may appear large, yet have much wasted space from a bird's perspective.

Here are some common minimum cage sizes for various species of birds:
Type of Bird Cage Width Cage Length Cage Height
Cockatiel 30 inches 30 inches 36 inches
Amazon Parrot 30 inches 30 inches 36 inches
Love Birds 1 per cage 18 inches 18 inches 24 inches
Love Birds - 2 per cage 36 inches 30 inches 36 inches
Budgerigars 18 inches 18 inches 24 inches
Finches 24 inches 14 inches 18 inches
Canaries 24 inches 14 inches 18 inches
Macaws 36 inches 36 inches 60 inches

Safety

Another key consideration when selecting a cage is safety. Give your potential purchase the once-over with the following points in mind:
  • Stability: Shake the cage to ensure it feels solid and sturdy with no ominous teetering. If you have small children, ask yourself whether the base is sturdy enough to withstand being pulled over by little hands. If not, you may decide to select a cage that can be placed on top of a piece of furniture out of a child's reach.
  • Finish: Check the cage for any sharp edges, rough welds or unfinished metal that could cut your bird (or you). Ensure the cage is free of rust and none of the paint is peeling or flaking.
  • Small Parts: Some cages are designed as "knock-down" cages. These cages can be disassembled and flattened for storage. The hardware used to assemble them may become loose, posing the risk that your bird might swallow a screw or bolt.
  • Latches: There are cages designed specifically for escape-minded Parrots. These have closures that are impossible for birds to open. Most parrots will play with latches, and if your cage does not have such a tamper-proof latch, a padlock can be added to solve the problem.
  • Bar Spacing and Orientation: Ensure the width between the bars is narrower than the width of your bird's head, or she could get her head caught between the bars and strangulation could result. Conversely, bars that are too close together can injure birds by trapping their feet. This sometimes happens when bars converge to shape the cage's design or as part of a domed roof. Horizontal bars are best for climbing, while vertical bars are less damaging to tail feathers.
  • Sanitation: For the sake of cleanliness and health, select a cage that keeps your bird's droppings out of her reach (generally by adding a grate over the bottom tray). Ensure also that the cage has a pull-out bottom tray for easy cleaning. Materials and Style
Cages come in many different styles and are made of a variety of materials. Once again, your choice may vary according to the type and size of bird you select.

Cages are made of anodized aluminum, stainless steel, brass, wrought iron, wood, wire, plexi-glass, acrylic or a combination of these materials. Stainless steel is expensive, but it's the most durable, strongest and easiest to clean. A stainless steel cage generally lasts a lifetime. The new see-through acrylic cages with air filtration systems have the added advantage of retaining your bird's mess. With enough space and enough "toys" to promote climbing and exercise, these cages compare well with more traditional cages. However, they are expensive. When selecting your cage material, keep in mind that Parrots and Conures have strong beaks that can chew through wood.

As long as you select a cage that is large, sturdy and safe for your bird, the choice of style is a personal one. Select a cage that will suit your home and your personal taste. Some cages even come in wooden cabinets that can be coordinated with your furnishings. Other cages are topped by "playpens" which can give your pet welcome variety. When budget is a factor, it is always best to opt for a larger, simpler cage.

Parrot Stands

A parrot or bird stand is essentially a "non-cage." The bird sits on a perch mounted on a dish-shaped or flat stand rather than being enclosed within a cage. These stands are best used only as an accessory to a cage, as they often fail to provide sufficient opportunity for exercise and leave the parrot open to potential hazards in the home.

Used Cages

A used cage is acceptable and should, of course, be checked thoroughly for items mentioned in the section on safety. Before putting your bird into a second-hand cage, wash and sanitize the cage with an aviary disinfectant or a 10% solution of household bleach. You should not purchase a used wooden cage for your bird.