Cage size depends on the type of bird, but at a minimum there should be enough room for him to move around and exercise. When his wings are extended they should not hit the cage, nor should his tail rest on the floor when he is perched. A tame bird that will be out of his cage on a daily basis can get by with a smaller cage than one who will spend its whole life there. Generally speaking, the bigger the cage the better.
Avoid the temptation to fill the cage with toys. I have had people come to pick up a bird and bring along the cage which is so packed with toys, ladders, and swings and perches that there is barely room for the bird! I know they mean well, but the bird would be much better off with room to move around.
Ideally, there should be two perches on opposite sides of the cage. I prefer they be of differing heights and diameters as well. We often use branches from regular maple (not red maple), apple, or willow trees. You must be sure they haven't been sprayed or exposed to chemicals. The birds really love these. I think they like the natural spring when they land, as well as stripping off the bark.
I like cages with a grate on the bottom. Some birds love to rip up the paper on the floor and this will make it more difficult if not impossible. (Birds are amazing at reaching things they really want!) A grate also keeps them from picking up droppings and fallen food that may be contaminated.
The cage should have a removable tray. I use newspapers to line mine. I have been told that fresh ink and the dyes used in colored newsprint can be harmful to birds, so rather than take a chance I have always used papers at least a week old and stayed away from colored print.
Some people prefer to use paper towels, corn cob bedding, or pine shavings. While I see no problem with paper towels (other than the expense), I am against the use of corn cob bedding and shavings for several reasons. I worry about the consequences should a bird be able to ingest either of these items, especially the corn cob bedding. When the corn cob bedding gets wet, it is very liable to mold which can cause illness. My main objection to these substrates is that I believe people don't change them often enough because they can look "clean" despite being full of waste.
The paper should be changed daily. This will keep bacteria down and also will help keep the surrounding area cleaner because there will be less seed hulls, feathers, and dust to fly around when the bird flaps.
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Anita M. Golden
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