A cage is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will need to buy for your new bird. The proper cage can help your bird stay healthy and safe. However, there are so many different types of cages. How do you choose the right one?
First, consider the type of bird you are buying. If you have any type of parakeet, cockatiel or another long tailed bird species, you will need a long cage so that your bird can get plenty of exercise. Ideally, the cage should be long enough so the bird can actually fly from one side to the other. A bird with a stocky body, such as a lovebird or a Senegal parrot, gets a lot of exercise by climbing around in the cage. These birds do well in a cage that is taller than it is wide.
Next, you should consider the size of the cage. While usually you should plan to buy the biggest cage you can afford for your bird, a newly weaned handfed baby bird may feel lost and frightened in a large cage. He also may have trouble locating his food and water dishes. It is usually a good idea to buy a small cage for your baby bird’s first few months and switch him to a larger cage when he is older.
Another thing to keep in mind when you are selecting your bird’s cage is the spacing between the cage bars. A beautiful $300 cage isn’t very useful if your bird can fit through the bars anytime he wants to. If you are thinking about using a cage with wire mesh, you should compare the size of the hole in the mesh with the size of your bird’s head before you make your selection. A cage made with one inch mesh is just the right size for a cockatiel to stick his head through. Instead of pulling their heads back in through the same hole, cockatiels have been known to bend their necks into a ‘U’ shape and stick their heads into a different hole.
Once you have decided on the cage size and bar spacing, you should consider a few other aspects of bird cage design. Take a look at the cage tray. When you pull it out to clean it, is there a grate in the cage to keep the bird from escaping? Is the tray deep enough to catch most of the mess your bird makes? Even if the cage has a deep tray, you still may find that your bird scatters a lot of seed hulls and feathers on the floor if there is no cage apron. While you can place your cage in a plastic apron base or cover the bottom of the cage with a cloth apron, a built in metal apron is a really nice feature.
Finally, don’t forget to take a look at the cage cups. There should be a way for you to easily access the cups without reaching into the cage through the main door. If you are buying a cage for a bigger bird, the cups should actually bolt to the cage unless you want to spend every morning and afternoon for the next 50 years reaching for cups that your bird has tossed onto the bottom of the cage.