April 2006
Pet Corner




Choosing Bird Cages


Bird cages come in all shapes and sizes, and unfortunately, many are designed more for their appearance and ornamental value than their practicality. For example, cages made of bamboo or small wooden bars may be great as planters, but are difficult to clean and lack durability if used as birdcages.

Ideally, cages should be longer in their width or length than in their height since birds tend not to fly up and down. Tall narrow cages do not allow flight. Rectangular cages are better than squared or rounded ones. Your bird should be able to stretch and flap its wings without hitting the sides of the cage.

While there seems to be an unlimited variety of cages for sale, there really are only two basic kinds. The most popular kind is made exclusively of wire. While this gives owners an unobstructed view of their bird, it affords little privacy or security for a bird. This kind of cage also exposes the bird to draughts, odors and noise. Because of this, all-wire cages should be located in an area of the house that is relatively quiet, draught-free and preferably against a wall or in a corner to give a sense of security.

The box cage is the second type of cage and it consists of metal or wood on three sides with wire mesh, bars, or glass at the front. Not only does this type of cage reduce draughts, it also provides security and privacy.

As far as minimum space requirements for birds, the proportions of a cage are more critical than the absolute volume enclosed. According to Dr. W.C. Dilger of the Cornell University Ornithology Laboratory, the minimum cage size by type of bird should be as follows: Finches, canaries and budgies 2 cubic feet (1’x1’x2'), Cockatiels, love birds 12 cubic feet (2’x2’x 3'), small parrots 18 cubic feet (2’x3’x3'), larger parrots 24 cubic feet (2’x3’x4') and macaws 32 cubic feet (2’x4’x4').

When purchasing a cage, be sure to look for potential hazards, such as sharp objects or projections in the cage that could injure your bird. Check for broken or improperly soldered wires and wood or metal splinters. Make sure that, if painted, unleaded paint has been used. Look for a cage that can be easily cleaned and disinfected and will withstand the rigors of frequent washing.

Cages should have at least one perch and preferably more. They should be placed at the same height and as far apart as possible. If possible, use branches or twigs from fruit trees or maple, willow or ash trees as natural perches. Sandpaper coverings that are designed to slip around perches to help wear down nails are not recommended. Food and water dishes should be made of a sturdy, non-chewable, non-toxic material and be easily removable for cleaning.