The world of interior design doesn’t stop at the cage door. Choosing appropriate housing for a bird is just the first step to keeping it content. The next step is to use "feathered feng shui” techniques to set up the cage so that the bird feels comfortable and safe, both day and night.
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics that asserts that design can be used to receive positive energy. When it comes to bird-housing design, use your species’ particular needs and quirks to best set up perches, sleep areas, play areas and food areas to create the most positive experience possible.
According to Kathleen Lance, owner of Bird Paradise in Burlington, New Jersey, the bird cage should have toys hung throughout, as well as some bird toys attached to the cage sides. "Provide a birdie toy box or large bowl at the bottom for foot toys as well,” Lance said. "The environment of the cage should be likened to an engaging treasure hunt and should give the bird hours of stimulating and fun activities.”
Understanding your species and your particular bird is crucial when it comes to choosing the types and number of toys.
"Amazons tend to be independent and fearless, are less concerned about having hiding places and are less intimidated by large, colorful toys,” said Donna Garrou, owner of birdStuff in Orange, California. "Flock species, such as the African grey and budgerigar, can be much shier in a new environment and can be so wary of new toys, perches and other cage ornamentation that if something new is placed near their only food source, they may refuse to eat.”
Garrou suggested placing new items away from food and water sources until you are certain of how your bird will react to their presence.
Foraging is a hot buzzword for birds, and all birds should have foraging opportunities in both feeding and play — combining the two is ideal. If your bird has a particular habit or quirk, capitalize on it by turning it into a chance to forage.
"Goffin’s cockatoos have a unique habit of tucking small items into their feathers,” Garrou said. "To accommodate this behavior, place a dish of beads and small toys by one of the high perches to add enrichment. If the cockatoo goes through them very quickly, put them into a foraging toy to make him work a little harder to get them out.”
Garrou cited African greys as another species that greatly benefits from foraging opportunities. She added, "It can be an effective strategy to create foraging stations and move them to different areas of the cage periodically to increase mental stimulation."
African grey, Pionus, budgie, cockatiel, Poicephalus: Swings, beaded toys, wooden toys, boings, rope toys, shredding toys, foraging toys, foot toys; don’t overcrowd the cage; place all new items away from food and water sources.
Macaw, cockatoo, Amazon, conure, lovebird, ringneck: Chewing and shredding toys, durable toys, foraging toys, noisy toys, foot toys; check toys often for damage and replace worn toys.
Caique, lory: Unlimited toys in a wide variety; chewing toys, boings, bells, rope toys, foraging toys, preening toys, shredding toys, foot toys; add new toys often and rotate toys in and out of the cage so that they seem "new.”