How to Set Up a Bird Cage

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Step 1: Cage Selection

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the large selection of different cages at the pet store, consider the size of your bird. If you own a large bird, he’ll feel cramped and unable to spread his wings in a too-small cage. Smaller birds, such as canaries and finches, thrive in cages that allow them to fly freely back-and-forth. Budgies are quite active, and require a cage that's wide and tall. Cockatiels need a cage that's large enough to fit their long tail and head crest without danger of crushing them. As a rule of thumb, purchase a cage that's at least twice the length of your bird's wingspan in depth, width and length. A spacious cage will allow freedom of movement and lower the risk of feather damage.

Warning

  • Before purchasing a cage, make sure the bars are spaced close enough together so your bird can't squeeze his small body or head through them.

Tip

  • Metal cages typically offer the sturdiest construction, and are the easiest to clean and disinfect.

Step 2: Essential Items

Your bird will need three bowls -- for pellets/seeds, solid food and water. Select stainless steel or high-impact plastic bowls from a pet store that will be able to withstand rigorous daily disinfecting and washing without falling apart. Many bowls are built to hang from the sides of the cage, which are easy to refill and also provide room for your bird to perch. Use bowls that can be locked in place to avoid messy spillages from your active bird knocking them over.

Warning

  • Place food, water and bathing dishes in a location where they won't be contaminated with bird droppings.

Tip

  • Place a liner under the wire bottom of the cage to catch discarded food and droppings, which will make for easier cleanup. You can use paper towels or newspaper for the liner.

Step 3: Interior Decorating

Things You'll Need

  • Perches
  • Toys

Toys will prevent your bird from becoming bored. They'll also keep him occupied while you're away, preventing loneliness. A bored or unhappy bird is at high risk for developing behavioral and health problems. Select toys that mentally stimulate your bird and drives his curiosity, such as puzzles, mirrors, bells and twisty toys. Other toys, such as swings, ladders and knotted ropes, offer physical stimulation. Chew toys are excellent for keeping your bird's beak strong. Birds eventually become bored playing with the same toys, just like children do, so rotate them every few days.

Your bird spends the majority of time on his feet, so he requires comfortable standing spots. Place perches at various heights throughout the cage to create an interesting environment. Perches can be made from natural materials, such as rope, wood, or hardened plastic. Use at least one or two concrete perches. A concrete perch provides your bird with an ideal spot to groom his nails and beak. Avoid placing his perches directly above his food and water bowls.

Tip

  • Place the perches in an area that won't block his path or harm his feathers as he moves around his cage.

Warning

  • Birds will chew their toys and perches, so only use items made from nontoxic materials... Avoid toys that contain removable parts that your bird might swallow.

Step 4: Location, Location, Location

Birds are social creatures. Choose a location where family activity takes place, so your bird will be able to interact with humans and won't feel isolated. Make sure the cage is neither too low or too high -- aim for around chest level. Keeping the cage to low can cause your bird to feel anxious or frightened. If birds are kept higher than eye level, it leads them to believe they're superior to their owners. Avoid keeping the cage in the center of a room. To feel secure, birds require at least one side of their cage to be up against a wall. Ideally, the best placement is in a corner where the bird can have two walls for additional security.

Warning

  • Keep the cage away from electrical wires, blinds, fish tanks, heating systems, air conditioners and out of strong sunlight. Birds have extremely sensitive respiratory systems, so shouldn't be kept in areas that emit smoke, fumes or strong odors. Make sure the cage is out-of-reach to toddlers and other household pets.

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