How far is too far out of the birdcage?

This image received a lot of negative blow back on social media about how the bird was being imperiled. As an avid motorcyclist, I know the first rule motorcycling is “if you don’t want to be injured on a motorcycle – don’t get on a motorcycle”.

 

If this motorcyclist were to have an accident – be it solo like running off the road or a collision with another vehicle – I think it would be more likely that the bird would fly away unharmed With the human sustaining injuries.

 

The discussion till now has been “to clip or not to clip”. I’d like to shift the discussion “to fly or not to fly”.

 

Cage bird keepers determine the environment and the quality of life for the bird. Some feel they are protecting their birds by lopping off the wings and putting them in cages 12 to 14 hours a day.

 

 

Ironically it IS like night and day for the bird. Our pet birds actually like to be within the confines of their birdcage at night. Their birdcage makes them feel safe which is why we practice the theory of the birdcagecanopy.

 

Once the sun comes up, open up any birdcagedoor and watch what happens. The bird comes out it’s time to deal with the world beak beak first.

 

There are various ways to measure happiness and satisfaction. Google just revealed that because your face can be seen in your smart phone (think selfie) – a signal to Google that you are pleased or displeased with the result of your search will be the look on your face – you heard it here first.

 

Birds offer no facial expression so it’s a bit harder to determine if they are happy we need to look at their actions.

 

This golden conure

aka queen of Bavaria conure is undoubtedly VERY happy

 

Some Bird Keepers feel there is no place for a cage in a birds life

Does that sun conure look unhappy to you?

 

Some sun conures THINK

they want freedom but then they change their mind

 

Birds of prey have been used for hunting since the time

of Genghis Khan (who had 100,000 falcons by the way).

When you hunt with birds, it is essential that

they either return to your gloved hand or remain with their kill.

 

Hospitals now offer acupuncture – medical therapy thousands of years old

humans have been teaching birds that free flight is OK

just return as they’ve been trained to do – for thousands of years

 

me with my class training 2 – 3 month old Harris Hawks

this process is the same used in Mesopotamia circa 2000 bc

we’ve got it down

 

Others are confident enough to let their birds

not only out of the birdcage but out of the house and out of the car

 

The areas we frequent here in Chicago and Northwest Indiana

have skies filled visibly with Peregrine Falcons and red tailed hawks

which is why we don’t allow her to free fly – relevant here because

we not only allow her out of her birdcage

we take her almost everywhere.

 

Brief off road trip:. A few years back some volunteer conservationists built an eagle refuge in Rockford about 90 miles west of here on the rock River. The Eagles embrace the area and after a long hard winter the volunteers returned for spring cleanup – which unearthed eight small dog collars – you’ve been warned

 

Popcorn is happy to be anywhere we are. As for health it’s hard to say – she does stay active and makes me crazy throughout the day because she likes to sit on my leg and poop – jump on the keyboard which changes data – it’s all good

 

I’m not advocating that you take your bird outside to see what happens.

And if you would like to take your bird out of doors allow free flight

while keeping a tether you can always acquire one of these.

The risk is lessened substantially if the animal is trained.

written by mitch rezman

approved by catherine tobsing approved by nora caterino approved by kerry (magic) gibbons

your zygodactyl footnote

this was not the post I started to write

Debunking the myth of feral cats devastating US songbird populations

We try to stay true to our philosophy and vision about the care of exotic birds but because we love birds we’re always trying to learn a little more. Most of you reading this have birds.

Some of you are thinking of getting a bird and others have had birds. Were all here for the same reason. We love birds. Humans will always disappoint, birds never will.

I’ve seen this argument come up repeatedly in the past year or so. Feral cats are devastating the song bird population. Folks, I don’t buy it. But because I’m the guy without the degree of the white lab coat I’ve got to go out and earn your trust the old-fashioned way.

Read moreDebunking the myth of feral cats devastating US songbird populations

Help Me! My Parrot Won’t Eat Anything Except Seeds or Pellets

woman with pionus parrot on shoulder

How to Easily Introduce New Foods to Your Parrot

Some parrots are weaned to a diet that is basically all seed or all pellets.

While pellets are supposed to be nutritionally complete, I believe parrots miss a lot of nutrition and foraging activity if they don’t also eat fruits and vegetables that are on the bird-safe list.

Some parrots easily try whatever is offered, but they tend to be in the minority.

Read moreHelp Me! My Parrot Won’t Eat Anything Except Seeds or Pellets

Bird climbing nets what are they and are they good or bad for my bird?

Bird climbing nets – personally we think they are a great idea and we ship lots of them. We’ve been shipping them for years and people rave about them.

If you’re looking for something that easily exercises and entertains your bird while providing enrichment a bird climbing it is for you we have no negative feedback from any of our customers about bird climbing nets. 

 

Until now.

Were busy – we chat with you and answer your questions. We’ll fulfill orders. We try to do the best we can. Not too long ago a woman named Bonnie Jay was selling us bird climbing nets under the moniker of Starbird.

One day she ran out of climbing nets – Ronnie was Bonnie’s former partner. We had done business with him for years. We started selling Ronnie’s nets. 

Shop All Bird Climbing Nets

Is there a difference between climbing net’s from two different manufacturers? They all are made from abaca fiber.

Trust me, the natives of the Philippines or Ecuador making these bird climbing nets are not sitting there with micrometers and referencing ISO 9000 specifications for your birds climbing net so every net will be a little different.

By the way – abaca trees are like banana trees without bananas – now you know

These are abaca fiber climbing nets enabling your bird to exercise providing additional enrichment activities.

These are really good helpful accessories for your bird – why doubt is being planted in people that they might be in safe is beyond me. Birds being in the care of humans is unsafe. Birds walking on pieces of rope are having fun. 

Shop All Bird Climbing Nets

I want some of the 10 of thousands of caged bird keepers reading then send me pictures and or videos of your birds using them climbing at them gotten from us or from anybody to show all of the other case bird keepers reading this newsletter that they are great freaking accessories to provide for your bird.

I’ll even go you one better. Send me a picture or video of your bird on the climbing net – anyone’s climbing net and I’ll send you a five dollar gift certificate.

Our homes are nothing like the South American rain forests. The Serengeti plains in Central Africa. NSW Australia. Yet we bring these birds into our homes and say “hey just act natural – after I lop off your wings”.

Wrought iron cages – bird jails are counterintuitive. Aside from a barbed wire fence a cockatoo may land on here and there how much metal do birds typically climb on in the wild? Not a whole lot. It’s trees, shrubs and fiber.

We love to introduce trees like the Java Tree stands because they will challenge your bird’s feet and it provides the birds someplace to go one side of the cage – but not every home can handle the real estate

Last week I spoke about how little the size the cage manners. We live literally in the geographical center of the city of Chicago. All of the buildings in our neighborhood once were basically mansions but are now floor by floor apartments. 

Shop All Bird Climbing Nets

If you visit various parts of the north side or the south side of the city you’ll see rows of bungalow homes after rows of bungalow homes and I’m talking 1500 to 1800 ft.²

By demanding that a caged bird keeper must have a cage for his macaw at least 8 feet long basically bans every apartment dweller and bungalow resident in the United States from having a bird – but I digress.

You can bring one of our Aronico abca fiber climbing nets, hanging from the ceiling, perhaps attaching to the cage and provide a huge recreational area for your bird without sacrificing one square inch of floor space.

Do we really need to keep talking about this? We’ve made the commitment to bring the birds into our home – what are we going to do to make the bird feel more like a guest than a prisoner?

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
approved by nora caterino
approved by kerry (magic) gibbons
 
your zygodactyl footnote

Total Cockatiel personality change after death of cage mate – what can be done?

“Poor Popcorn”, it seems we say that a lot. She has such high expectations of us and when we cannot fulfill them for her, she lets us know, but unfortunately we can’t explain “why” in bird speak.

Since we have had her, she has gotten us well trained to serve her, she wants attention when she wants it and not most other times. BUT she does want people time every day.

She loves me but she truly loves Mitch more. He did not think so, but she does. For example, I leave early in the morning for work, before they get up in the morning. Her timer goes off at 9 am and she starts chirping loudly which helps to wake Mitch who works late into the evening thus sleeps in, in the mornings. 

white cockatiel in towel cabinet 

He lets her out, they go to the bathroom together, she supervises his activities, then they go into the kitchen for a bite or some tea. Mitch makes her a slice of dry toast which she has grown to expect. She barely nibbles more than a few crumbs off it, but she expects it nonetheless. She follows him while he dresses and sits by him for scritches while he checks the PC for emails and such. He puts her in her cage, turns on the radio and comes to work.

In the warm months, she goes into her carrier and comes with him to work where we have a big cage all set up for her so she can watch us and everything else during the day. A nice bright full spectrum bulb above her cage keeps her active and cheerful.

 

 

Popcorn Albino Cockatiel in cage at the Birdie Boutique

 

Well, recently as you know, Mitch had to take off for 6 days to New Mexico for a trip to make arrangements for his 85 year old Mother, Arlene (my middle name, weird right?) to move back to Chicago after 22 years in New Mexico.

Well, no one explained any of this to Popcorn and she was despondent. He left midday on a Friday which meant that he was not at work, he did not come home with me and he was not there to greet her like he does 5 days a week. She let me let her out of the cage, I gave her a little piece of Avi-cake, but she would have no part of anything because she was waiting for Mitch. She sat quietly on top of her cage near the door he would usually walk through. He did not come.

I went away to visit with friends for the weekend so I bundled her up in her carrier, not an easy feat as he usually is better than I at it, she lets him pick her up, cup her body and put her in the carrier, me, she flies off, I had to corner her in one room and wrangle her like a bucking bronco into the carrier. Once inside she is fine again, as she has food, water, Booda perches to sit on and a big opening to sit and look out of.

She also has a nice big cage at our campground site where we go weekends now and then. It has everything she could want and she gets to be with us. Well, this time “just me”. She dealt with the trip away, still expecting Mitch to come in and giving me the stink eye, then we came home Sunday. Once in the house, she looked for Mitch again, no luck. She had no interest in me until later in the evening and came by for some scritches. Then bed time. 

 
White cockatiel on bathrobe/leg getting scritches

Monday came and I had to leave her locked up at home alone as I leave so early (she also does not like to get up when I do), but I also had to uncover her and turn on the radio for her, then left for work. Her light comes on a couple hours later.

I came home at the end of day and she chirped like mad as usual but looked past me hoping to see Mitch of course. Such a sad looking little bird. She would come to me for attention but no where near as much as she would for Mitch. She reluctantly would come to me for some but she always waited so long, it is almost birdie bedtime when her lights goes off. Sometimes she knows her light is going to go off and she will fly to us for scritches in hopes we won’t notice how late it is. Just like a child.

Finally, Wednesday night about 9:30 pm Mitch came home. I had already covered her up but I heard a little chirp from under the cover and let her out for a few minutes. She was thrilled to see him but was fine with going back to bed.

The next day well, she was a very happy little bird again, I never heard such loud chirping from 100 grams of feathers before but she was so happy Mitch was back.

It is so hard for us to get our little FIDS (feathered kids) to understand what is going on. Yes, they do miss us, but they don’t know why we are gone and have not returned yet.

Birds can tell time, but they don’t know what day it is. But they can get used to a schedule which makes for a very happy bird. They will wait patiently when they know something is going to happen. In time, out time, play time, meals, it all helps to make for a better bird as a pet. There is less screaming, less aggression and they are calmer. They just want to know what is gonna happen when.

When we first brought her home she wanted to walk across our plates at dinner times, nope, not gonna happen. I would make her a plate of her own and set on her open drop down cage door. In the beginning she was not interested and wanted our plates instead. 

 

Popcorn white cockatiel eating from large steak bone on cage door

 

She soon learned if she did that, she would be locked up with the dish i prepared for her and not let her out until we were done eating, she now, when she sees us bringing in dishes for dinner, will fly to her cage door as she know she is getting something too. If she does not like what we gave her she will fly over and see what we have, then seeing nothing special will go back to her cage or wander the floor.

They are just so smart. I just wish I knew a therapist who spoke bird.

written by catherine tobsing
approved by mitch rezman
     

How not to build outdoor aviaries for large macaw parrots

Lil Morgan – bitlesslil@gmail.com

We want to build an outside aviary for our macaw. I would like to have a secure structure, safe from predators. Our location will be Clarksville, TN. I’m looking at ideas online but thought perhaps asking an authority on the subject would be the best way to start researching.

What materials do we avoid? If the area was spacious enough, can we use 12′ galvanized dog pen sections? Our birds live in separate cages. We have two male Timnehs (19 and 26) and a male B&G (13). Could they safely be housed together in a spacious aviary, or will they fight?

They have never had physical interactions with each other, although they are in the same room and in close proximity to each other. I know I have more questions but I can’t think of everything right now.

Hi Lil – every once in a while this question comes up which is why I like to revisit the issue to see if anything is changed

Downside number one: galvanized wire

Galvanization – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Galvanization, or galvanisation, (or galvanizing as it is most commonly called in that industry), is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel or iron, to prevent rusting. The most common method is hot-dip galvanizing, in which parts are submerged in a bath of molten zinc.

Zinc is highly toxic to birds thus galvanized wire is less than ideal. You’ll see it used for housing smaller birds like finches and budgies but because your macaw will be climbing on the wire he or she will be licking zinc

There are two choices to keep metal from rusting out-of-doors – specialized hard-to-find powder coating that is also UV resistant that will not fade under sunlight – or stainless steel

If you do find suitable wire 10-gauge is more appropriate for macaw whereas 12-gauge is more suited for Amazons and African grays

The floor should be concrete something you can hose down – dirt has too many parasites that can infect your bird

Overall I’m not enchanted with homemade enclosure for birds the size of large macaws. While doing some research I came across this site http://www.buildanaviary.com/ by Jack Taylor downloaded the full set of books for $27. After reading through them I found the entire package to be quite disappointing. 

Black Walk in Indoor Aviary for Small to Medium Birds AE-WI8561

Black Walk in Indoor Aviary for Small to Medium Birds

 

He talks about different species requirements and has at least two pictures of macaws on the website – but there is no mention on how to build an out door aviary for macaw. He frames his aviaries out of wood so the aviary frame that he advocates is lunch for any hook bill.

I signed the link to the books over to Lil – as we want no copyright issues and asked for her input as well which I may not received by the time this goes to press (remember I’m from the last century),

Building a Parrot Aviary for a Galah (The Strawberry Patch)

Aviaries for small wax bills like finches and budgies can be designed from repurposed armoires as we found a couple of these real cool designs on Pinterest

Here’s a pretty remedial wikiHow article – http://www.wikihow.com/Build-an-Aviary

Remember aviaries are designed to allow birds to have flight making them much larger than bird cages.

See All Our A&E Bird CagesBuy bird aviaries on WindyCityParrot.com

Having revisited this question again we will reply with the same answer – you’re really better off with a commercial aviary for big birds – for the birds own safety.

It would need to be welded together using a metal substrate that doesn’t rust which is typically stainless steel. If you run some quick math you realize that an 8′ x 10′ aviary is going to require the welding of about 600 vertical rods (top middle & bottom and upwards of 150 feet of tubular steel to create frame of the structure.

That just doesn’t sound like a money saver to me Lil

Whether or not your birds will fight in a “spacious” aviary is anyone’s guess. I will never attempt to predict the outcome resulting from social interactions of wild animals. 

I certainly would not leave the birds in any aviary alone for the first few weeks so you could be there to break up fights. I don’t know the data will back me up but I think that a large percentage of veterinarian bills or just plain injuries are the loss of a toe from the bite of another burger suddenly got territorial

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
approved by nora caterino
approved by kerry (magic) gibbons
 
your zygodactyl foot note

 

Bird cage dish for older cage issues

Find all our bird cage crocks & dishes here

I ordered these dishes for my cage using the dimensions you listed on your website which are #01 dish measures 5″ across the top including lip. (4 1/2″ not including lip) 3″ tall.

When I received these dishes which was on friday feb 3rd I checked them and they do not fit my cage.And the reason they do not fit is because they are not the dimensions you state on your website.

Read moreBird cage dish for older cage issues

Your bird’s cage size matters less than you think

I’m feeling a bit cantankerous “hey you kids get off my lawn” and argumentative. The source of which can be found in the second post in this week’s Birdie Brunch.

First a Popcorn update 

Popcorn the cockatiel eating an orange 

I can’t with certainty say she is fine. She still pants after flying. She has this hernia like protrusion in her abdomen but the good news is we haven’t seen any fluid build up for a couple of weeks. We’re back to our morning routine of her following me in flight around the apartment. I sit down to work she likes to be either on a keyboard or part of my desk or my leg and will headbutt me until I give her scritches. Every day she is with us is a gift

Let’s start with Marilee

A suggestion on cleaning parrot cages. Put parrot in your temporary traveling cage and take its cage to the manual car wash and power wash it like a car. Make sure no wax and rinse thoroughly.

Make sure you have all seeds in the trash before you begin, to be kind to car wash owner.

Wrong on a number of levels Marilee

First you’ll need a vehicle large enough to transport the birdcage to said car wash. The other problem is that you are doing more damage than good by effectively “power washing” your bird cage.

I know a lot of you men reading this have recently acquired a 2300 pound or 2600 psi power washer and are dying to show your wife how clean it will make her bird’s cage.

This is a multidimensional issue. The bars on the sides and top and bottom of the cage are solid pieces of metal. At the very least, the four corner posts of a bird cage are square hollow tubular steel.

sulfur crested cockatoo in a bird cage

If you have a cheap no-name birdcage that you bought off of eBay, the power washing or the car wash scenario may begin to peel off the powder coating on your birdcage.

If you have a name brand birdcage I want you to note that the four corners of the cage are going to be “tubular” steel, as in hollow in the middle. This means that in spite of your good intentions in all that wonderful powder coating that you performed research about prior to purchasing the cage – the tubular steel interior of the four corners of the cage and some of the horizontal tubular components will retain water.

This water on the interior of the tubular components of your birdcage will cause something called oxidation over time something better known as “rust”.

So have at it weekend warrior. Chain your cage to the car wash linkage and drag it out to the backyard and blast it with water at pressure greater than Niagara Falls.

The question then becomes how many bird cages do you want to buy in your bird’s lifetime?

A far more simple and eloquent solution is to leave your bird’s cage right where it is. Use Poop Off every day or two to clean the food particulate and poop from the metal.

Every few weeks take your handheld steam cleaner – I’d love to sell you one but we can’t find them priced reasonably enough right now so you’re on your own – and sip your coffee while the steam cleans and sanitizes not only the cage but all of the toys and accessories in the cage.

What about the seed guards you ask? Seed guards do not keep the bird cage area any cleaner. Seed guards become four more pieces of metal that need to be cleaned. They also are a danger to animals, small children and people who aren’t watching where they’re going. Ditch the seed guards and put them flat on the floor somewhere or in the closet so you don’t fall and take someone’s eye out. 

cockatiel in bird cage

Okay it’s time to argue with more bird people.

How do I stop my bird from plucking all his feathers?

Well there’s a lot of answers to that – first you have to have the bird checked out by a vet and then examine its nutrition and environment. 

– so no there is no definitive recommendation to eliminate feather plucking.

Should I clip my bird’s wings?

All that depends on how comfortable you are with a flighted bird. If you are going to work on training your bird. There are several factors. – so no there is no definitive recommendation whether to clip a bird’s wings or not.

If I decide to clip my bird’s wings how many feathers should I cut off?

There are several schools of thought on that. You can have a bird that is allowed to glide from the top of the cage or that falls like a boulder – it’s two different clips – There are a number of ways to approach that – so no there is no definitive recommendation on how to clip how bird’s wings.

How do I get my cockatiel to stop laying eggs?

Some experts recommend extended ranges of darkness to trick the bird into thinking breeding season is over.

Other experts feel that extended hours of light should be introduced to shutdown the birds circadian clock – so no there is no definitive recommendation on how to shut down a prolific egg laying birds reproductive system.

budgies in a bird cage

Are pellets better for my bird than seeds?

That depends upon the species – grass parakeets are seed eaters. Your bird might not convert easily to pellets.

You may require a seed blend with a supplement. Or a seed blend with pellets. Avicakes can provide both – so no there is no definitive recommendation on whether to serve my bird pellets or seeds.

BUT

When it comes to the size of the cage there are absolute recommendations backed up by data and information on the Internet and the measurement of birds wings by avian veterinarians.

Ebay Bird Cage Buying Guide:

“No matter what species the bird belongs to, though, the cage must be big enough to allow space for walking, climbing, and flying.

A good cage, even for a small bird, is much bigger than what most people picture when they think of a bird cage.

Exactly how big is big enough varies depending on which expert makes the recommendation, but a width three times as wide as the bird’s wingspan is a good place to start. This means a budgie with a 10-inch wingspan needs a cage almost 3 feet wide on its shortest side.”

Purdue University, College of Veterinary Medicine:

“When purchasing a bird, consider its wingspan; the cage you house the bird in should be at least twice the bird’s wingspan in width, length, and depth.”

dove in a bird cage

avianwelfare org:

“Cages for singly-housed larger birds should be at least one and a half times

the bird’s natural wing span in all directions. Ideally all birds should have cages/aviaries large enough to accommodate flight.”

The Gabriel Foundation:

“Minimum cage sizes: Parrot species need a minimum of 2-3 x the wingspan in width and depth”

Pet education.com:

“Cage Size for medium to large size birds, the cage living area (does not include space between floor grate and tray floor) should be a minimum of 1-1/2 times your bird’s adult wingspan in width, depth, and height. This allows comfortable movement and may reduce the risk of feather damage. For smaller birds, a cage should provide the room needed for flying.”

Book: The Ultimate Guide to Parrots:

“Take the wingspan and multiply by three. This gives you an idea of the smallest depth the cage should be. Now multiply by 2.5 the wingspan for the minimum width of the cage.”

Wylds Wingdom:

“A general rule of thumb is that for large birds, the interior living space of the cage should be at least 1.5 times the bird’s adult wingspan – in depth, width and height.”

I ask the experts – how can you be so certain in one area and so vague and a dozen other areas of caged bird care? My answer is and always will be the size of birdcage doesn’t matter.

What are the best cage dimensions for multiple bird’s. Double double?

To begin with everybody is predicated the size of the cage, wingspan of the bird and then I don’t know 20% of you 50% of you clip your bird’s wings. A green ring macaw has a 47 inch wingspan. 1.5 times that wingspan is 70 1/2 inches. Two times a wingspan is 94 inches.

sun conure green cheek conure on top of bird cage

Thus the minimum enclosure recommended by the experts is 86″ x 62″. But if I clipped the bird’s wings let’s say 10 inches neither side making wingspan 20 inches shorter the total size size of a of a major Mitchell’s cockatoo. Does my clipped Green wing macaw now only require a 64 inch wide cage?

You can call it a trick question but it’s something to consider. The bigger question that gets begged is one of the assumptions of how the bird toys, letters, her shoes and accessories and feeders are arranged in the cage.

If our cagescaping is based upon the cage canopy theory, the birds can have room to spread its wings regardless of the size of the cage unless you’re talking a walk-in aviary.

If you have a family of five humans obviously I would not recommend a Porsche. But nobody can tell you that it’s essential that you have a minivan which is what the wingspan cage size correlation does.

Let’s look at this subject holistically. The cage has to fit into your home. Besides the cage when the bird comes out of it where is it going to be? I’m not a big fan of putting Green wing macaws on six-foot tall play top bird cages for aggression reasons.

A practical solution is a place stand which is introducing more avian equipment and your home eating up more real estate while saving your furniture.

Bird cages are there to protect the bird from itself. To advocate a big enough cage to allow the bird to flap its wings has drawbacks. Do you really want your Moluccan cockatoo pushing seed hulls, shredded paper, dried food particulate and fecal dust out of the cage and into your home more efficiently than a Dyson fan?

I want the wing flapping out of the cage which only pushing the dust around my house that will always be there living in the city.

Find a cage that you, your family and your bird can agree on. Make sure the metal is sturdy enough to contain the bird. And don’t make yourself crazy with this bar spacing thing. Half the manufacturers measure the bars from the center of the bar the center of the next bar.

Other manufacturers list the bar spacing actually between the bars. We had two Indian ringnecks in an old California cage that had 1 inch bar spacing.

What you should be more concerned with, something that I don’t hear any of these experts squawking about is the security of the cage and how easy it is to escape from – or not – leaving you with this video to ponder. 

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
approved nora caterino
approved by kerry (magic) gibbons

your zygodactyl footnote

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