By Gina Cioli/BowTie
Your pet bird is part of the family, so position the cage in an area where your pet can observe household activity without being in the middle of chaos.
Moving your pet bird into its new home is fun. The cage sparkles with newness, and installing all the cute toys and accessories inside is enjoyable and creative. A week later, the toys are covered with poop, and your pet bird has developed a penchant for turning its water into bacteria soup, dunking food and toys in the dish at every opportunity. The bag of pet bird food on your kitchen counter has spilled onto the stove, and you’ve already despaired of keeping your carpeting semi-clean.
The placement of your pet bird’s cage inside your home is as important as the cage itself. Ideally, pet birds should not be kept in the kitchen (or in its proximity), because cooking fumes, extreme fluctuations in temperature, open pots of hot liquids on the stove and other hazards abound. Locate the cage out of direct sunlight, which can be too hot, and away from exterior doors for protection from cold blasts of air and to prevent escape.
Make sure the cage is inaccessible to toddlers and furry pets. Place it away from blind cords (pet birds are capable of reaching cords through the cage bars with their feet; if their toenail or foot gets snagged on the cord, it could result in the loss of the toe or foot), electrical cords (a pet bird can become electrocuted if it bites into the cord) and fish tanks (which pose a drowning danger).
From perch positioning to storage solutions, members of the Long Island Parrot Society have some common-sense advice for your avian adventure!
Savvy owners give their pet birds a perch with a view. Pam Boremski houses her green-cheeked conures in individual cages surrounded by bird-safe houseplants for a tropical look. The cages are near a south-facing window where the pet birds are entertained by watching outdoor flocks at the birdfeeder. “They’re not visible from the street,” related Boremski, who is mindful of security. “A person would have to come right up to the front door to see the pet birds. The heat from direct sunlight isn’t a problem,” Boremski explained, “The house has wide roof overhangs, which shade the window glass.” Her flooring is an easy-to-clean tile, and cages are on casters so they’re easy to move.
Michelle Pratt’s cockatoo and trio of macaws have their own 12-foot by 15-foot room decorated with avian art. The room has a nice view of the yard. Eastern exposure gives the pet bird’s morning sun. “The birds used to be housed in various areas throughout the house,” she said, “But having their own room has improved their lives and mine. The birds go to sleep earlier and seem to sleep better than when they were in the main part of the house. Most of the mess is now confined to their room, which makes it easier for me.” Pratt stores her supplies in plastic drawer units, and food is kept in large pet food bins in the pet bird room.
What about air quality? “Even though I use an air filter placed close to the cockatoo, I open the windows for fresh air whenever possible,” Pratt said. Her pet birds also enjoy fresh air in their outdoor flight during warm weather and spend a considerable amount of time on their stands in the living area of the house. The room is a work in progress. Pratt plans to replace the current carpeting with a hard floor and install a sink nearby for washing the pet birds’ dishes and cage accessories.
Linda LaFleur’s three pet birds share a room that was soundproofed after a neighbor complained about her noisy macaws. “When the windows are open, the pet birds have a view of the neighborhood,” she said, “But heavy, opaque soundproofing panels are in place much of the time. Full-spectrum ceiling lights mimic daylight, and the pet birds spend a lot of time in the naturally lit family room when we’re at home.”
The pet bird room is outfitted with full-spectrum lighting and a huge climbing rope grid on one wall for the macaws. The vinyl tile floor is easy to clean, as is her hyacinth macaw’s stainless-steel cage. LaFleur chose the cage for its ease of cleaning, as did most people interviewed. “The poop slides off the stainless steel easily, and I don’t have to worry about chipped paint or rust,” she explained. The cage is double-welded for strength, an important factor to consider when housing macaws and cockatoos.
Terri Pakula’s cockatiels travel with her to her country home where their cage is located against a wall in the sunroom that protects them from direct sun, but they have a great view of the woods. Often, placing a cage next to a wall gives a pet bird a sense of security.
Elise Negrin converted a bedroom into a pet bird room where each of her three pet birds has a wall or corner of its own. “The room is between the kitchen and den so I walk by a lot, and they see me constantly,” Negrin said. “There is a window in their room that overlooks tall shrubs. Gringo, my African grey parrot, has mastered sparrow and cardinal noises quite well!”
Many people leave a television or radio on to keep their pet birds company while they’re away from home. Joan Napolitano’s cockatoo and African grey parrot even have a favorite program! “I leave the TV on a timer for an hour while I’m at work. I turn on an HD channel, which is the only one the pet birds seem interested in. There’s an hour-long show called ‘Sunrise,’ which features sunrises in different areas of the world. Sunrise in the rain forest seems to be a favorite in my house and Loki, my cockatoo, knows when the channel goes on that I am leaving. He stations himself at his water bowl for a direct view of the ‘sunrise.’
Planning a new pet bird room? Rob and Lorraine Otto share their home with 11 pet birds and have drawn up plans for their dream avian habitat. Tile flooring with radiant heat and a center drain, stainless-steel mesh over the windows, high ceilings, soundproofing, a shower area and misting system, whole-room air filtration, an exhaust fan and full-spectrum lighting are included in their specifications. You can incorporate some of their ideas into a new or existing room now. One great idea you can use when replacing windows is to purchase windows that have the shades or blinds built in, right between the panes of glass. You’ll never have to worry about the pet birds damaging them!
Protect The Floor
What kind of flooring is in the pet bird area? How can you keep it clean? Tile, vinyl or sealed wood floors are easier to clean than carpeting when pet birds are present. Lanette Raymond protects her light beige carpeting with heavy plastic floor protectors commonly used under desk chairs. “They are clear, firm enough to easily move the cages and easy to wipe off,” she related. “Conveniently, they come in sizes perfect for my needs, and the foot extension area is perfect for pet birds that like to perch on open cage doors.”
Your pet bird’s home is indeed its castle. Adapt some of these hints to make it fun and user friendly for both of you!
Where To Put The Bird Toys
Toys are not optional. They are essential for your pet’s physical and mental stimulation. Parrots, from budgie- to macaw-sized, love to chew. Provide your pet with satisfying wood playthings, along with some plastic and rope toys. Foraging toys and foraging systems are very popular and offer pet birds the opportunity to work for their food. Select appropriately sized toys with safety in mind. Avoid toys with dyed leather, “S” hooks, and small, removable metal or plastic parts that might be swallowed. “Jingle” style bells are unsafe because little toes and beaks can become trapped in the openings. Don’t stuff the cage with too many toys. Instead, rotate them frequently to maintain interest.
If your pet bird is timid, leave a new toy near the cage so your pet bird can observe it for several days before you put it inside. Discard rope, cloth and leather toys when they become heavily soiled or frayed. Place toys strategically inside the cage.
“Visualize yourself in your bird’s position, sitting on the various perches, maneuvering from perch to perch and toy to toy. Don’t forget about tail space.” Lanette Raymond said. “The same toy might provide different entertainment value from different perches if placed well or creatively. I keep dishes along the front wall of cages, and higher perches and toys to the center and rear of the cage. Toys are placed higher in the cage and between perches, and this circumvents a lot of soiling.”