How did our cockatiel’s leg & foot end up in a paper cast?

cast on white cockatiels leg

 Funny you should ask – file under: life imitating art imitating life.

On the heels (<- pun) of last week’s blog entitled “How do birds sleep standing on one leg?” where we saw the most exceptional illustrations of how the flexor tendons in a birds leg act as an ingenious pulley system enabling a bird to firmly grasp a perch even while sleeping and in the case of birds of prey this system also aids in the killing of said prey.

Mother nature as usual was simple eloquent and right to the point. The question arose recently, for us, how do you shut down 50% of that system for maintenance? It’s been an interesting few days.

Last Friday, Popcorn our cockatiel walks out of the cage with a distinct limp. We could see her favoring her left foot on the cage landing door so I went over to her cage and offered my hand. I could immediately feel as she perched on my index finger, the reflexive “lift” of her left foot signaling she was having what we thought at the time was a foot issue.

No problem, no panic, because some of you may remember that in July of last year after finding only “lists” on the Internet “We Built the Ultimate DIY Bird & Parrot First Aid Kit

Feathered factoid: birds have a pharynx, not a larynx like many terrestrial mammals including humans.. This means you can easily restrain even the biggest of birds by forming a circle with your thumb and fore finger around their neck (illustrated in video below). The design means the bird has no feeling of “being choked” when restrained around the throat Use this method for for common caged bird maintenance like nail trimming and wing clipping to avoid getting bit.Having all of the right tools we were confident that we could handle what we thought was a simple Popcorn splinter and everything would be hunky-dory. Catherine held her on a towel while restricting Popcorn’s right leg and I went to work. Under magnification I could see a small black dot so I said “aha – a splinter” dipped a sewing needle into alcohol and simply rubbed out the evil substrate in just a few seconds confident we had saved the day.

Video of when we thought removing a sliver would fix Popcorn’s foot.

For recovery, we felt the best course of action was to spray the foot with Vetercyn (which is a healing spray as safe as water but also kills bacteria on contact) in the morning and apply HealX Soother Plus Topical Cream in the evening to reduce inflammation and pain. The scary sliver episode would an end in a day or two, like all sliver extractions.

Monday morning, cage light goes on, I uncover her, open the landing door of her cage and……… she’s still limping (fill in your own expletive), we had fixed nothing.

Monday evening – it’s 5° out. I really don’t want to take her outside. Catherine and I talk, check their website and call. Animal house of Chicago is open until eight. Tracy, Dr. Byron’s wife (and hospital manager) answers the phone and said “they could see us in an hour”. It’s 6 pm.

Earlier in the day we brought in her wooden carrier box inside (from the porch) to warm up, just in case”. Her metal travel cage would be too cold no matter what and we wanted to be prepared which we were for this very moment. We stuffed her little and very unhappy butt into the wooden carrier, wrapped it with an electric flannel blanket, realized I didn’t have an extension cord long enough for the electric blanket to make it to the vet’s so we bundled the bird, wood & flannel into an IKEA bag and headed north on icebound California ave.

Animal house of Chicago has been treating our birds for more than a decade. The first time I met Dr. Byron he was doing intake on a gecko. They do the two things that you want your vet to do, help keep your bird or pet healthy and fix it when it’s ill. Dr. Byron was playing Mr. Mom and so we were fortunate enough to get Dr. Ellen.

Dr. Ellen Boyd went to veterinary school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she was able to focus on exotic animal medicine and wildlife. She completed an internship at the Audubon Zoo’s Center for Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans and stayed for an two additional years as an associate veterinarian. She began her reproductive research with cranes and really began to love working with birds. Dr. Boyd continued working with migratory birds and earned a PhD degree in 2007 from the University of Washington in Seattle doing field work all over the West Coast and the Arctic Circle. Her dissertation focused on avian endocrinology and reproduction.

Before joining the Animal House of Chicago team in 2014, Dr. Boyd worked in shelter medicine at Paws Chicago and as a relief veterinarian at many animal hospitals in the greater Chicago area. Her main interests are exotic animal medicine, general surgery and shelter medicine. Dr. Boyd feels very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with animals as companions and in their natural habitats.

Once inside the patient waiting room it was time to unravel the feathers from the flannel, and that was one happy little white bird hopping out of the carrier. Michelle our tech came into do some initial intake and ask questions. She left and we waited for the doc.

Popcorn the cockatiel and Dr Ellen

Popcorn “patiently” (<-pun) waiting to meet Dr Ellen.

The sound of Dr. Ellen’s hand touching the outside of our little room prompted Popcorn to fly up on my left shoulder. As Dr. Ellen and I chatted discussing the events described above, Popcorn, sore leg and all was making a large arc across my back eventually ending up on my right shoulder putting her just a little farther away from Dr. Ellen.

The moment came when Dr. Ellen scooped up Popcorn in a light towel and went to work. We agreed an x-ray was in order to play it safe. When she returned it was a good news bad news scenario. Popcorn had no breaks or fractures according to the x-rays but she did have tenderness & swelling in her left hock.

Popcorn was placed in a paper tape cast, immobilizing 50% of the aforementioned pulley system – her left leg. This was part one of the treatment. She was also to be given .07 ml of meloxicam once daily by mouth. Meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It’s in the same class of drugs as Naproxen which makes it birdy Alleve. And it doesn’t help make your bird resent you less for the mouth syringe invasion.

The good doctor then casually mentions that best practices dictate that we pull all of her perches out of her cage so as to reduce her desire to use the bad foot. “Sure doc, piece of cake” (I’m trying to keep my head from exploding here) Have you ever seen Popcorn’s cage? Mom & Dad after all do run the Birdie Boutique


It’s now somewhere a little after eight and I call Catherine to give her a heads up explaining the necessary modifications needed for Popcorn’s cage. Sometimes I think this woman has some sort of artifact (Warehouse 13 fans take note) that enables her to move beyond speeds mere humans can visually perceive.

Confident Popcorn’s care was in the best possible hands, we agreed to return in seven days. I went to the front desk to finish off the visit. I’ve blocked out the prices on the Animal house invoice (below) because I know how much all of you listen to me and I don’t want you taking a document into your veterinarian saying “this is what mitchr pays, I want to pay the same”.

The problem is like any other professional service, charges will vary with the relationship you have with your vet, the number of animals you have that they care for and your geographical location. Speaking of which there is going to be a flock of avian veterinarians migrating to Paris in April, more about that in a minute.

The bill is highly detailed. It breaks things down basically into “parts and labor”. I’m also reminded of Michelle the technician who did the initial intake then reporting to Dr.Ellen prior to the examination – a team effort. The bill also lists prior treatments and her weight history something you know that we talk about a lot. Weighing your bird regularly is the cheapest health insurance for bird that you can get. Sudden changes in weight will always be a red flag regarding your birds health.

In spite of being flighted and getting a lot of exercise, at 118 g she needs to drop some weight. It’s contributing to unneeded pressure on the leg joints according to Dr. Ellen. She’s stopped laying eggs so hopefully her appetite will recede. We feel bad about leaving her home in her cage all winter while we work but it’s just much too cold for her to travel daily. We’ve been rewarding her with more spray millet to help smooth over our shared guilt. Popcorn is officially off millet. Millet is to birds what McDonald’s French fries are to us – yummy & fattening.

It took much less time on the trip home. Popcorn’s cage new design would have made the writers of the “Americans With Disabilities Act” proud.

Now when we come home from the shop she’s able to climb the bars up to the top of the cage while shrieking displeasure at our earlier departure like an inmate grabbing the jail bars screaming “I’m innocent, I don’t deserve any of this”.

We couldn’t neutralize the entire house so we clipped 4 primary flight feathers about halfway down on both wings in the hopes of short circuiting her flight paths. She must be really strong because her flight ability wasn’t hampered for a moment. How she doing with all this you ask?

My guess is she saying to herself she is glad that she wasn’t born a duck because ducks have terrible, flat feet.

she is highly focused at removing the little paper cast

At the time of this writing, Thursday evening, Popcorn had chewed off much of the bandage and it was beginning to come undone. After a brief phone consultation with Dr. Byron we reapplied some fresh adhesive bandages in the form of a bandaid sandwich (the web foot look) and hope it will last until next Tuesday – yeah right.

The aforementioned Paris thing:

You don’t walk into a lot of veterinarians offices and see that they treat all of the following species

  • Amphibians
  • Armadillos
  • Birds
  • Chinchillas
  • Coatimundi
  • Degu
  • Exotic Cats
  • Fennec Foxes
  • Ferrets
  • Fruit Bats
  • Gerbils
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Hedgehogs
  • Kinkajous
  • Mice
  • Prairie Dogs
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Reptiles
  • Sloths
  • Spiders
  • Sugar Gliders
  • Wallabies

As if that isn’t awesome enough turns out Dr. Byron and his wife Tracy will be traveling to an ICARE International Conference on Avian heRpetological and Exotic mammal medicine conference in Paris France this April.

I discovered that Dr. Byron is the chairman of Pharmacology-Clinical pathology for the conference. He will be also conducting Masterclasses in Herpetology covering current advances in reptile +/- amphibian clinical/diagnostic & therapeutic techniques in the lab.

But wait there’s more! It’s their 20th anniversary. And guess where they got married? In Paris. It just doesn’t get more romantic than that – snakes, reptiles and everything else Paris has to offer.

Congratulations you rascals!

Will bring everyone up to speed on Popcorn’s recovery next Sunday.

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

Bird cage seed guards – a caged bird keepers solution or problem?

This article is in response to a Facebook comment about cage seed guards. You know those big pieces of metal that are supposed to keep everything so clean but are always covered in poop and dried fruit? 

A comment from Facebook on 2/4/15 from Anne M “The cage liners are flawed though Windy City. I’ve never seen a cage without slanted sides, and my birds at least like to sit at the ends on perches so doodoo falls and lands on the bare plastic. What I’ve been trying to find is something like kitty pan liners what fold out over the sides of the cage to catch it all. Kitty pan liners work but are rectangular while most cages are square”.

Showing pictures of parrots pooping is kind of like fart jokes, I’m not a big fan so here’s a video I found a Super Bowl commercial (from a couple years ago) that I’m pretty sure never made it live



To your point Anne: I’m not a real big fan of cage seed guards and I understand that your birds like to sit on the edges.

What Anne is referring to are seed guards

First full transparency this is really well thought out but is purely subjective. My official position is that seed guards do more harm than good . They’re ineffective and can be dangerous by design. Even a peg and clip design can come off in a minute or two for tags but those four clips can be challenging when trying to squeeze together sheet-metal.

Seed guards that are screwed or bolted on take even longer to remove and put back on. Setting aside the cleaning issue – seed guards add an average of 8 inches (20.32 cm) to 10 inches (25.4 cm) to the foot print of any birdcage side to side and front to back.

Some cutting-edge cage manufacturers like Prevue have 4 rounded corners which does reduce the potential for sharp corners (see the guard above) to injure a terrestrial family pet or small human. But they require the removal and replacement of eight nuts and screws with seed guard servicing.

Bird cage seed guards can slice drywall like a hot knife through butter, tear wallpaper and scratch wooden paneling. Talk about a design with unintended consequences. 

This is why seed guards do not appear in my caged bird keepers tool kit (list coming soon)

Here’s a few ideas we’d like to throw your way. Let’s hear yours.

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

the bird cage, your birds home for life – demystified


Having sold bird cages for almost 20 years it’s easy to assume that our customers know bird cages, but we don’t want to take anything for granted. With spring around the corner people begin to think about getting new birds or replacing an older bird cage. 

Bird cage design much like our knowledge base of exotic birds parrots has improved enormously over the same period. So we thought it would be good time to explore what goes into the thinking of designing and building a bird cage. 

Play Top vs Dometop Cages Bird Cage Selection Guidelines


Depending upon whether you’re going to house a small bird or a parrot may determine if you’re going to get a wire cage or a wrought iron cage. This first decision is usually based upon budget because you can put small birds in a wrought iron cage but wire cages are typically less money. 

Prevue Pet 857 Clean Life 24 Scroll Top Bird Cage for Small Birds HQ 82217C
Wire Construction
Plastic Base – Integrated Seed Guards
Wrought Iron Construction
Opening Dome Top = Play Top 
Wire cages a less expensive because they’re made out of just “wire” usually with a plastic base. These cages are suitable for small birds like Canaries, Finches, Cockatiels and some small Conures. Some come with stands and many do not. For those that don’t come with stands, placement is usually on a table or other piece of furniture. They are lighter than wrought Iron cages so picking them up to clean around is not a big problem.

Proper Bar Spacing Guidelines Difference Between Paint or Powder Coat

The coating on the wire or wrought iron can either be paint or powder coat. Just because a bird cage is powder coated doesn’t make it a good cage. Stick with reputable manufacturers and if you buy your cage online make sure the website is trustworthy. Reputable manufacturers such as Prevue, HQ & AE have been producing bird cages for many years and can guarantee you that the cages they make are bird safe. 

Stainless steel bird cages have the advantage of lasting much longer than wrought iron cages and can be placed outside for extended periods of time. Although desirable for these properties the price usually discourages stainless steel as material for your cage.

The front and back walls of wrought iron cages will usually have square tubular metal forming a rigid frame. The vertical pieces or what we refer to it as the bars of the cage can be made of wire or actual wrought-iron bars growing in thickness based upon the size of the bird, housed.

Most wrought iron bird cages, come with either a stand with casters or have casters attached directly to the bottom of the frame components. Wrought-iron cages are heavy thus it’s easier to move a cage on casters when cleaning. For the purpose of this discussion we will focus on wrought iron bird cages

The Top of the Cage 

The tops of bird cages typically come in two flavors, dome tops and play tops. Although we consider the cage on the above right to be a dome top – because the top opens and we can insert a perch temporarily, this cage can be considered a play top as well.
Bird Cage Play Top Bird cage dome top Bird cage fancy dome top
Play Top Dome Top Fancy Dome Top
Your choice between a dome top and a play top can be based on functionality or form. Dome tops look less utilitarian than play top bird cages and having an attractive style can help offset looking at all this metal in the room.

Play top bird cages provide space for your bird to perch once out of the cage. In most cases, play top cages provide feeding cups, a ladder for access and a tray to collect refuse and poop. One of the drawbacks to having the tray on the top of the cage is that it blocks light. Many bird owners remove this tray to allow more light into the cage. Placing a piece of newspaper on top of the cage when the bird is out on the play top can replace the need for having the tray as long as the newspaper is replaced with each play top visit.

What Exactly is Powder Coating? Bird Cage Placement Recommendations

Play top cages are also practical when you don’t have the space for a play stand for your bird. When your bird comes out of the cage it needs a place to go. If you’re going into another room and your bird’s out of the cage, they’re going to want to come with you and you have to put them somewhere. The back of a chair or desk top will only lead to grief for you. If your bird is going to spend most of its time outside the cage in the same room the cage is in, in most cases all you need is a play top cage.

Dome tops give your bird more “head room” because there’s more area in the top of the cage. Birds spend more time in the top third of the cage than anywhere else. Having a dome top bird cage is especially important for long tail Macaw parrots because of their over all length.

Note: It’s important to keep the overall height of the birdcage in mind as we’re reminded here by the CEO of Prevue Pet: “Mitch and Catherine: Thanks for the positive critique on the cages and differences the other day. One thing I’d like to point out to you is that our overall heights on the Cages are intentionally lower than the competitions. 

Not due to cost, but to bring the birds closer down to handling and eye level, so they are not in a dominant position, when outside of the cage on their playpens and therefore are easier to work with by their owners. This is an important feature which was done on purpose”.

Remember birds like to be up high and they don’t know dome top cages are not designed for them to be on top but inevitably they will find their way. If the top doesn’t open, placing a piece of newspaper over the dome will reduce cleaning chores later.

Entry Doors

Before we get into a discussion about entry and feeder doors I’d like to point out the breeder box door that many people see but really aren’t sure about their function – click here for a thorough explanation of bird cage feeder doors

What’s a bird cage breeder box door? 
Bird cage breeder box door?
It’s that door (with the circle around it) 
Birds have to get in and out of their cages. Bird cage doors come in various shapes and sizes. A larger entry door gives you more access to the bird in a cage while at the same time making it easier for the bird to escape. Although not designed for perching, parrots will spend time on the top edge of the entry door. 

What exactly is Wrought Iron 3 Bird Cage Brands AE, HQ & Prevue-reviewed

Landing doors allow the bird to come out of cage and if the bird is flighted – gives them their own “heliport”. Don’t assume your bird can land well (whether you have a landing door or not) on their cage if they’ve never done it before. We suggest “flying lessons” if you’re introducing your bird to a cage for the first time. Simply take your bird and hold them two or 3 feet away from the cage and flip your hand slightly making your bird fly to the cage allowing them begin to select their own “landing area”.

Speaking of landing areas, the farther the bird is away from the cage like on top of the entry door the farther away from the cage is the “landing zone” for poop. Depending upon the size of the cage we recommend placing an office chair floor mat or a sheet of linoleum cut approximately 1 foot beyond the reach of the poop in order to protect your floor from not only the poop but to prevent the casters for marking your carpet or solid surface floor.

Bird cage with large entry door Bird cage door with in a door Bird cage drop down landing door
Large Entry Door Door-iniDoor Drop Down Landing Door
Bird cage with high & low door Effective bird cage door lock Video parakeet escapes bird cage
High & Low Doors Effective Entry Door Lock Video – Keet Escapes
The cage pictured lower left is well-suited for housing small birds because of its 1/2 inch bar spacing. Click here for our bird cage bar spacing recommendations. When you have many small birds in a bigger cage having an upper and lower door enables you to access the birds in the top of the cage or the bottom of the cage with less chance of birds escaping.

For larger birds it’s always recommended to have a lock that helps to defeat their escape. We will never promise you a fully “bird proof” birdcage lock because we don’t know of any but the one pictured above (bott0m center) from Prevue Pet is about the best we’ve seen.

Smaller wire cages as mentioned at the beginning of this article usually have slide up doors. Don’t think for a minute that the weight of the door can prevent a small bird from opening it and escaping – click bottom right thumbnail to play video. We recommend always using a clip, cable tie or wire tie to ensure birds don’t escape from these smaller cages.

Bird cage door lock Bird cage door lock Bird cage feeder door
Feeder Door Lock Gravity lock Swing-out Feeder Door
Feeder Doors
Having a feeder door (far right thumbnail) that allows you to access food dishes without disturbing the bird is almost standard on most wrought iron cages today. They are also helpful if someone besides you, cares for your bird. With feeder doors you’re able to change your bird’s food and water without ever putting your hands in the cage. On the far left is a positive locking mechanism that helps ensure your bird does not defeat the feeder door locks.

How to Restore an Older Bird Cage How Will My Bird Cage be Shipped?

Most feeder doors simply have a “gravity lock” (center thumbnail above) which can easily be defeated by a bird – forewarned is forearmed. Funny bird escape video click here. You will find gravity locks installed as “secondary locks” on bird cage entry doors helping prevent birds from escaping easily should you for get to engage the entry door lock. 

Floor grate and refuse tray

Bird cage grille
Most bird cages today large and small, come with a “floor grille”. Exotic birds and parrots do not like to walk on flat surfaces. They enjoy the feeling of wrapping their feet around the bars of a floor grille. The grille allows food, refuse and poop to fall through into the slide out refuse tray below. In the Prevue Pet cage pictured above the space between the grill in the refuse tray is surrounded by “cage wall” preventing the bird from going into the refuse tray and doing what we affectionately refer to as “dumpster diving”

Depending upon the height of the cage, it may or may not have a storage shelf or cabinet. Sometimes a storage shelf is actually used to add structural stability to the overall cage.


Bird cage casters
Today almost every wrought-iron cage will have casters directly attached to the frame of the cage or the stand the cage sits on. You can also place a cage that does not have a stand on a TV table or computer stand to have mobility. Being able to move the cage is important when it comes to cleaning under and behind it.

What Size Cage?

With small birds it’s important to keep in mind birds travel side to side in so you want to have a cage that is wider than is taller. Larger birds typically will not be flying in their cage. Much has been written about the “proper” size of the cage for parrots. Many times you will hear or read “get the largest cage that you can afford.”

Seed Skirts and Bird Cage Dimensions Questions Regarding Bird Cage for S.I. Eclectus

We will tell you it depends upon your home and your lifestyle as it relates to your birds. Several years ago I delivered a birdcage to a woman who just had acquired a Military Macaw. Upon arriving at her home I discovered that the Military was now the sixth Macaw in her family. She had a Hyacinth, 2 Green Wings and 2 Blue and Golds. The biggest cage bird room wasn’t more than 30 inches in diameter. 

Most people (who know birds) would gasp at that fact. But I arrived there late and by the time I got the new cage in the house it was birdie bedtime. The woman clapped her hands and said in a strong voice “good night everyone it’s bedtime good night birds” and the 5 Macaws dutifully climbed into their cages and patiently sat while she closed and locked all the cage doors. The Military Macaw being new, took some coaxing.

She went on to explain that she worked from home and got up at six in the morning every day and let the birds out which is where they stayed until about eight o’clock every evening so they were happy to crawl into their “sleeping” cages.

So if your bird is going to be in the cage for many hours a day, yes it’s best to have as big a cage you can afford that will fit in your home without overtaking your home. If your bird is going to be out of the cage most of the day, the size and the cage will matter less.

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

Seeking Cage Topper Perches for My 2 Macaws

Hi, I am looking for two perches one for each of my macaws cages. I want to make it into a play area for them. Do you have any that would be good for this?

Hi Kasey,

We’re gonna make 2 assumptions here, one that you’re talking about large macaws are like Blue and Gold’s or Greenwings rather than mini macaws like Hahn’s or Nobles. Two, you have dome top cages.

Macaws have a different subset of caged bird keeping needs because of the length of their tails. They need taller cages and wider cages so their tails aren’t banging into the cage bars with every movement.


Blue & Gold Macaw on top of a Prevue Pet Bird cage


This would apply to allowing them to perch on the top of the cage. A playtop cage will usually have a tray to catch refuse & poop at the top of the cage underneath the play area. With a dome top cage, although a short tail bird could perch in the center of the top of the cage, you’ll find yourself cleaning the top bars of the cage and new poop trajectories will find seek targets throughout the cage.

The bird’s tail is also going to get dragged back and forth across the cage bars that form the roof in the cage. This is why it makes the most sense to think about perch placement for this scenario in terms of placing the perch on the top “edge” on the cage or mount a single bolt perch (first pic below) on the side of the cage towards the top of the cage.

I’m going to make two recommendations. the first will be a jumble manzanita perch with a single mount that you can put anywhere inside or outside of the cage


the second reco is to put a “T” topper on the top of the cage making sure it’s close to an edge of the cage

Manzanita Bolt On Cage Topper Perch Large

Find this large T Top manzanita perch here

Then you can introduce a an office chair mat or a sheet of linoleum under the cage to protect your floor.

hope that helps




Button_Manzanita.gifButton_Manzanita_Select.gifButon About Bird Foot HealthDo bird's feet hurt?Buy Mazanita PerchesShop All Bird Perches


Your government wants to outlaw your pet bird!

We’ve all heard about all those government perks Swedes get – 97% of their healthcare is picked up by various Swedish taxing bodies (about 9% of Sweden’s costs for health and medical care amount to approximately 9 percent of Sweden’s gross domestic product GDP)

Stuff like 5 weeks paid vacation when you start a job, increasing with your length of tenure – 480 days of paid parental leave – it’s cold and dark and then sunny and perfect and all those beautiful women (although I’m reminded here in edit by Catherine that the beautiful women are not supplied by the government 🙁

There are no Swedish (nor European) Parrots

so you’ll have to settle for this Budgie practicing Swedish

All this talk of Sweden is because of a statement I made in last week’s blog post “Mechanics of Your Bird’s Wondrous Wings – what you probably didn’t know

2/5/2015 – “We’re still fact checking this -> we read somewhere on the internet that Sweden or Norway passed a law making it illegal to clip a bird’s wings under 1 year of age. If someone has information we’d appreciate confirmation or denial from an important person of that country. The BirdTalk article doesn’t count”

2/9/15 – this has been fact checked

Terri Leinneweber A fellow (Facebook) group member (Senegal Parrot Pets) provided this reference:

This is the Swedish law:…”Jordbruksverket” is the Swedish board of Agriculture. Page 13, 2 §

“I (Terri) used Google Translate on this one and it´s actually pretty much what it says in Swedish too, after a few corrections:

Limitation of flight ability of birds may only take place if:

1st – the bird is over a year old,

2nd – the bird can not be trained to use the flight harness,

3rd – limitation is performed by a “wing trimming expert”,

4th – wing trimming is only allowed once a year.

The wing trimming should be done in such a way that the bird after restriction has good stability and sufficient lift to eliminate the risk that it gets injured while attempting to fly.

Let’s give a digital hand to Terri

And because I go down digital rabbit holes for a living – as long as it concerns birds & parrots, I did a little content mining on the Swedish agricultural site. Apparently Sweden cares about its pets is much as it cares about it’s humans.

People from the Swedish government actually sat down and spelled out suggested sizes for the environment where birds are kept. Swedish caged bird keeping best practices served up by Swedish politicians.

(he gets drifty here)-> Sweden is the country that brought us IKEA. The store that sells us furniture with names like RAMSÄTRA that we have to assemble with tools that they make up. If you live in a rural area and have never been to an IKEA, the one we go to in Schaumburg IL, has got to be between 500,000 – 1,000,000 square feet. 
The building is four stories tall. The exterior is painted bright yellow and bright blue. Inside they even have escalators just for the shopping carts. There’s a cafeteria serving Swedish food on the fourth floor and you can buy $.50 kitchen utensils or complete kitchens for $20,000.
They specialize in furniture that requires assembly using at the very least an allen wrench (which should be called an alien wrench) & other tools they clearly make up. I found it’s best to consult a divorce lawyer prior to the assembly of a piece of IKEA furniture that your wife chooses. Me digress? never:-)
Comic of new employee at IKEA being told he has to assemble the furniture in his new office

From the folks running Sweden who are in charge of how to care for pet birds (the following has been translated from Swedish by machines): Minimum space –

Pet birds need plenty of space to move around. The width of the space where a bird staying should be at least twice the bird’s length, and at least 45 cm.

Animal welfare states how big the cages at least should be. A cage or aviary (bird house) may well be larger, but never smaller than the dimensions in the table below.


(my notes) 1 cm = 2/5 inch 1 sq meter = 10¾ square feet – A 32 in (8.13 m) X 23 in (.584 m) cage = 5.1 sq ft (.475 sq mt)


The bird’s length from beak tip to tail tip

The minimum allowable surface

Minimum area per bird for group housing

Minimum dimension of the longest side

Minimum height

up to 15 cm

0.31 m²

0.03 m²

0.7 m

0.6 m

16-20 cm

0.31 m²

0.04 m²

0.7 m

0.6 m

21-25 cm

0.45 m²

0.055 m²

0.9 m

0.6 m

26-35 cm

0.84 m²

0.1 m²

1.2 m

0.8 m

36-45 cm

1.44 m²

0.6 m²

1.6 m

1.0 m

46-55 cm

2,2 m²

1.0 m²

2.0 m

1.2 m

56-65 cm

3.12 m²

1.5 m²

2.4 m

1.5 m

66-75 cm

4.2 m²

2.0 m²

2.8 m

1.8 m

more than 75 cm

6.5 m²

3.0 m²

3.6 m

1.8 m

As a counterpoint to thinking about all those Swedish blondes, I mean all that sunshine and thoughtfulness about pet bird ownership I offer you evidence of how our own government feels the need to control things just because they can can. “Pet bird ownership laws – File this under fixing stuff that doesn’t need fixing.”

We are in touch with the Swedish Chef’s agent (from the Muppets) 

seeking an interview because he’s Swedish & knows a lot about birds.

Feather factoid: it’s illegal to own a Quaker (Monk) parakeet in 12 states: here’s a great page noting laws about Quakers in all 50 states:


That said, with spring just 6 weeks away (if you believe ground hogs) many of us are going to want to start traveling with our birds again. When you do travel with your bird, do you keep any birdie paperwork with you? 

What if your bird got lost or stolen and you were lucky enough to be able to recover it while you on the road? How would you identify the bird now being held by a governmental facility? A picture? Almost every bird of the same species looks identical – won’t work – they will not release the bird to you based upon a photograph.

Make sure if you ever leave your state with your bird, you have some sort of documentation be it a hatching certificate or a medical document from your veterinarian – you’ve been warned. 

In case you missed it, here’s a post with some tips for terrestrial travel with your bird .

This is where we talk about the subject line in the email. 

A lot of you will look at the headlines (in bold below) and shout “Hooray it’s about time we ban parrot breeding”. Be careful what you wish for because if you read the whole article you’ll find out it’s saying is that if I live in Sauk Village Illinois, place a cockatiel in a travel carrier and drive it over to my friends house in Dyer Indiana 5 miles away, I will have committed a felony by violating federal law transporting this species of bird without the proper federal breeder paperwork.

Don’t waste your time getting mad at McDonald’s because they screwed up your order – just lower your expectations, it’s McDonalds. Save your energy, you’ll need it when you read this: 

The United States Fish And Wildlife Service has announced that there will be no more domestic breeding allowed of certain parrots and other species listed in the Endangered Species Act except for the specific purpose of conservation.

American Federation of Aviculture’s Rick Jordan and others strenuously object to the edict, countering that any breeding helps propagate species. 

Here’s a link to sign a petition at

I don’t get very political here (I’ve learned) but this is about the relationship we have with our birds. By clicking the link above, after a couple of subsequent clicks you will be able to protest this law to 9 individuals @ governmental and institutional bodies – here’s the list:

  • Fish & Wildlife Service c/o the Department of the Interior

  • Chief of the Branch of Foreign Species, FWS

  • Janine Van Norman – Senior Advisor, PIJAC

  • Marshall Meyers – Secretary of the Interior

  • Ken Salazar – Director of Fish & Wildlife Service

  • Dan Ashe – U.S. House of Representatives

  • U.S. Senate – VP of Government Affairs / Legal Counsel PIJAC

  • Michael Maddox (VP of Government Affairs / Legal Counsel PIJAC) President & CEO, PIJAC

  • Michael Canning (President & CEO, PIJAC)

You have a voice:
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

What bird flies across two continents in two days – nonstop?

From my exposure to falconry I learned Peregrine Falcons can attain speeds of 300 miles an hour or more while in a dive pursuing prey. But what about getting from point a to b? How fast & long can a bird really fly before needing to land?

me training Tommy a 3 year old (at the time) peregrine falcon


As it turns out a European species called the “Great Snipe” holds the nonstop speed record for all birds traveling major distances. One country they begin their journey from is Poland (if you’re planning a bird watching trip there).

We’re not sure if the Arctic tern racks up mileage rewards for the 50,000 miles (80,000 km) it covers every year as they go from basically the North Pole to the South Pole and back again. But they take their time and spend a lot of time fishing along the way (probably sampling the local beer).

Snipes on the other hand have been found to fly from Sweden to sub-Saharan Africa (think Egypt) nonstop as in zero rest in two days (tracked by scientists armed with scientific Snipe tracking apparatus) . That my friends is 4200 miles (6760 km) meaning these feathered flying machines are cruising at a mile a minute (97 km an hour) for 48 hours without stopping at a “Flying J” (bird/trucker joke).

They don’t look like they’re very aerodynamic birds but that’s because they get so plump in the fall storing valuable and necessary fat for these whirlwind flights. It’s been noted that they literally double their body weight prior to the migration. Urban legend has it that when shot by a hunter their bodies explode hitting the ground because their skin is so tight.

What’s even more amazing is the path they take offers ample rest stops which Snipes choose to ignore, one more anomaly in nature that baffles scientists.

the snipe is not an impressive looking bird
Chalk it up to birds get more amazing every day.


written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

Mechanics of Your Bird’s Wondrous Wings – what you probably didn’t know

back of double yellow head amazon parrot with wings outstrectched

You feel it’s best to clip your bird’s wings – right?

A lot of you know us well, many of you don’t. To be clear – we’re here to help whether you want to keep your bird flighted or flightless. We can talk to about flight training – we can explore “degrees” of clipping. Most importantly we want you to know birds use their wings for more than flight, like balance when on their feet and muscle strength maintenance.

That said, as the Confederate Army fought the Union Army. Longer and louder than the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s – the argument for & against wing clipping lives on. In the interest of world peace I’m not going to talk about either today. We are just going to talk about – “wings” made of parrot feathers.

Read moreMechanics of Your Bird’s Wondrous Wings – what you probably didn’t know

How do I calculate international shipping rates on all this cool bird stuff?

cockatiel wearing flight helmet with hand drawing old fashion airplane

To determine international shipping charges on Windy City Parrot Navigate to

  • place items in the cart
  • click the shopping cart link at the top of the page
  • and then click the “INTERNATIONAL CHECKOUT” button 

Read moreHow do I calculate international shipping rates on all this cool bird stuff?

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