Tips on Painting & Restoring Older Bird Cages

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I think the main reason that people don’t try to paint older bird cages is because of what they’ve heard or read about the harmful effects of lead, zinc and so forth. The point that needs to be made is the most the paints sold in the US for the past 40 years can be safe for human infants – as long as it’s dry.
Our government really wasn’t thinking about our birds – they were looking out for our children. The government has gone to great lengths to ensure that paint sold for use in the home is safe. 

The confusing issue is something called “Flashing”. Flashing describes the chemicals that you should be concerned about, evaporating from the paint. These are solvents known as “VOC’s” (Volatile Organic Compounds). VOC’s are why you need to keep the area you’re painting the cage in, well ventilated even when using what are known as safe paints. 

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Pull the trimmer away from your bird’s beak and back away from the bird Mam

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 Our economical bird nail trimmer has become very popular now that caged bird keepers realize how easy it is to trim their own birds nails while saving money at the same time. Make sure you know how to towel your bird to make nail trimming much easier.

Although we recommend using our electric nail trimmers to keep your birds nails trimmed, we do not recommend that you attempt to trim your bird’s beak.

It’s a sensitive organ and has a lot of sensory receptors and which could potentially be very painful to your bird if handled in the wrong way, which got me to thinking about today’s topic. Think – just slipping an 1/8 inch on the bird’s beak in the wrong direction can damage sensory cells (Herbst corpuscles).

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Gemma Parakeets and Cockatiels Mixing in Cage/Aviary

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Sep 11, 10:04pm


We are loyal patrons of WCP and look forward to the Sunday brunch every week. Perhaps this topic has already come up, but it is a question about bird species.

We have 3 parakeets that get along well although they did not grow up together. All are rescues. We are thinking about adding a cockatiel to the family, and are wondering about cages. So, the parakeets have a large cage (approx 2.5′ H x 2′ W X 1′ D) and we have a smaller cage (about 1.5′ HWD) that is just lying around empty.

First question: would a cockatiel require a separate cage or could they all sleep together in the same cage?

Second: Assuming that they cannot share a cage, would you recommend the keets in the smaller cage or leave them in their current habitat?

Third: Would cockatiels and parakeets be competitive/territorial in an open space (like an aviary)?

Thank you for any advice you have on this.



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Joyce about taking birds outdoors

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On Sun, Oct 16, 2016 at 12:54 PM UTC, Joyce wrote:


We live in southern TX, and would like to take our Amazon outside since the weather is so nice this time of year. I will purchase a cage of course, but my concerns are what types of bugs and disease am I potentially going to expose her to? She will also be in a covered patio. How do I keep her safe?

Thank You,


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OH NO someone has stolen my parrots! SunDance, Pepper and 19 other parrots: missing!

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My first medium sized parrot was a loving sun conure who spent all the years of her life with me. She chose me one day when I was in a pet shop when she was just weaned, about 8 weeks old.

Today I know I got her for the wrong reasons. I was fast learning a lot about my budgie Sydney and twice-found cockatiel Cocoa. After two cold winters in Denver, my husband and I were at last returning to Cape Canaveral for his job on the Space Shuttle. Before leaving Denver I said I wanted a bike for riding the beach and a parrot to ride with me. When SunDance picked me, little did I know she would have an absolute horror of bicycles. No matter how I worked with her, she never overcame this fear.

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(*´∀`)ノ Holy crap we just rescued 2 more birds ヽ(゚〇゚)ノ

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File under: riding the cosmic coaster

About a month after Popcorn had passed Catherine and I made big plans to get a new bird after we launched the new Windy City Parrot. I casually mentioned that I was thinking of an African bird like a Senegal.

Sometimes when we get deliveries of bird food a bag is broken or torn and cannot be sold as new. We get credit for that bag and we store them in a refrigerator in the back of the store. We give these bags to our local customers as it is too expense to ship them.

A couple weeks ago Catherine casually mentioned that we were ready to begin a serious search for a new bird.

Carmel, a very good customer of ours was in the Birdie Boutique one day. We give her a lot of the food because we know she passes it on to a local rescue run by a woman we found was named Pat.

Turns out we knew Pat from the bird fairs years back when we were vending at the bird clubs and events.

Peaches, a Senegal parrot, clearly did not like all the other birds in Pat’s rescue. Senegals tend to be quiet.

At the same time we had made a decision to get Bacon, our newly rescued budgie a cage mate because he was clearly unhappy alone and we knew it would take a long time to socialize him. What the heck – we asked Pat if she also had a budgie she could spare.

Cosmos speaking to us -> the day after Peaches came into our lives, I had to do some banking in our new bank. We set up some new accounts and I really hadn’t paid attention to how money was coming and going.

Funny story – one of the accounts that I expected to have $10 had $954. Some dumb credit card processing center had somehow sent this money to the wrong account which I had been chasing for two weeks and was getting nowhere.

Thank you Peaches <- THERE’S YOUR SIGN

The video explains it all.

the digital journey

Subject: Senegal

Dear Pat, It was good to talk to you again. Time flies by so fast. Yes, Mitch and I are looking for a new forever bird. We had Sunshine, our Indian Ringneck, for many years until he passed. I bought him at a GCCBC bird fair about 30 years ago.

Then we went a couple of years bird-less until Popcorn flew into our lives; she was a great little girl. Sadly we lost her to her hormones and most likely cancer. I wish we knew then what we know now.

We were able to stop her hormonal behavior with the 72 hour light cycle we put her through, but by then it was too late. We have had others try it on their own birds and it works.

We currently have a tiny male parakeet foundling who is not tame and does not want to be from what we can see so we are going to get it a buddy in a week or so as we are waiting 30 days to see if the owner shows up.

We would love to see the Senegal you were talking about. Please send me any information, regarding a rescue. We have never adopted before, but we want to have an older bird, not a baby at this point in our lives.

Dear Pat, Thank you for the pictures of Mishu. She looks cute. Does not look mean, LOL, but has a look like “what are you doing?” Is she flighted? We do believe in allowing a bird to fly but also know a bird in a new environment can fly right into danger.

We would clip once, so she would not be able to harm herself. Then when the feathers grow back, she would have full flight available forever. When we brought Popcorn home she had to be clipped as she was just so confused and within a month had molted and grown new feathers; that was great.

Mitch works at home most of the time so he is able to allow the bird to be out. Every room has a stand as we feel if a bird lands on something and destroys it, it is not their fault if we have not provided a stand for it.

We never allow them to fly around other rooms unless we are with them. We have a lot of doors that can be closed keeping the bird in the same room we are. I don’t know if you have seen our BLOG or are signed up for it, but seeing it would show you what sticklers we are at bird care.

senegal parrot on back i womans hand with bracelet on wrist

Windy City Parrot's Blog Home Page

Hi Catherine.  I am a caregiver for my elderly mother so weeknights will not work for me.  I can bring her to you maybe Thursday or Friday this week.  We will start off with a foster contract to see how it goes for a month.

I typically do a home inspection but not necessary for you.  Her name is Mishu which was given to her by a former owner.  He purchased her from a Rolling Meadows bird show breeder.  I was there the day he got her so I know she is six years old.  

This was the son of a good friend of mine who was living with a girlfriend.  When he got home she was furious about bringing the bird home.  Told him “it is me or the bird”.  

So I have had her her whole life.  I’m sad that I am offering her a new home but know you will give her the best home possible.  I have been her only human interaction so I am not sure if she will warm up to Mitch. All I can suggest is give her time.

Let me know if and when I can drop her off to you.  I assume you will use Popcorn ‘s cage for her.

Dear Pat, Wow, that is quite a story, but it is nice to know her history too. We would be honored to try to see how it works out. Yes, we would love to do this. Mitch works from home currently so he would be with her all the time. He intends to work from an office being set up by the shop at some point (going slowly) and then he would take her with him to a cage in the office. It would be a rare day that she would be left alone all day.

Yes, you can do the home inspection, you would be coming by so all would be shown anyway. We are cautious bird owners, toilet seats stay closed, garbage cans stay closed, no open glasses of water or other beverages. 

We currently have the parakeet in Popcorn’s cage and we intend to get a buddy for the single parakeet and then put them in a new cage. So we have to do some set up at home before we can bring home Mishu.

Next week would be better for us so we can get another cage for the keet ready.  The keets will live at home and not travel with us, they won’t be in the same area and will always be caged for their safety.

Hi Catherine, Next week is better for me also.  I like the proposed schedule you will have for Mishu.  Feel free to change her name.  I’m not sure she recognizes it.  She loves attention and will come to the front of the cage to come out or for head and neck scratches.

Where are you planning to get another parakeet?  I got Carmel a beautiful parakeet as a partner for her single bird.  She takes all my rescued parakeets. Let me know if you want a male or female.  This time Wednesday or Thursday next week is OK for me to bring Mishu to you. Probably around 1 pm after I make lunch for my mom. Whatever works for you. Talk to you later.

Dear Pat, It all sounds wonderful. Nothing should be rushed when it comes to a new family member. I will discuss it all with Mitch later tonight. I know he is excited about the prospect.

We have been together for 15 years, I had Sunshine when I met him and they were fine together but of course Sunshine was my bird. When Popcorn came into our lives they bonded so well. He could handle her so well, but she did not care for me unless he was not around for awhile. It was all on her terms if she rode on me around the house, let me pet her, etc.

Mitch was not new to birds prior to our meeting, his ex had a ringneck, a toe biting cherry headed conure and a sweet white capped pionus so he was no stranger to parrots when we met. LOL.

Dear Pat, Mitch is all in on the plan. We will be bringing in a new cage for the parakeets as quickly as possible, something from Prevue we can pick up by Friday.

Yes, we would be fine with you picking out a buddy for Bacon. A boy, we don’t want to breed them, just let them enjoy being budgies together. We think by the feathering, and the eyes that Bacon is about 9 months old. Color-wise something to go with a Blue and White budgie, LOL.

Hi Pat, Wednesday is good, Mitch will be here. And yes, Bacon is a boy, it was up in the air for a bit as it was very light blue and when we took a couple of pictures it faded to white so we thought it was a girl, but the blue is deepening a bit. So we want another boy to avoid eggs. I will try to snag a couple pics to send anyway.

bacon the budgie in his cage close up

We are getting a cage in for the keets tomorrow. I want a fancy one for them but it is not in the budget right now so I am getting a decent sized cage and stand for them, 26 x 14 x 36 high. We will furnish it for the keets, can’t wait. I so want Bacon to be happy. He really looks so sad all alone. He has no interest in us.

Great on the clipped wings, has she always been clipped? If her nails need it, please it would be nice so we don’t have to subject her to that. We do our birds nails ourselves but it is never a bonding experience. LOL. We are getting excited.

Catherine, The cage for the parakeets is more than adequate size for them.  I personally don’t like the fancy ones (with the indented roof lines at the top).  It is wasted space and the birds wouldn’t go there.  They like to perch high up. Have you thought about introducing them slowly to each other by putting them side by side in separate cages for a short time?  It gives them a chance to get to know one another before putting them in the same cage.

As with all my birds no matter the breed, I include a separate food and water cup for each bird on separate sides of the cage.  Unfortunately, birds can starve a mate by being aggressive and not sharing their dishes. I know a few of my clients that it has happened so it is good to observe their behavior.  

You may not encounter this since one of the birds is quite young and should adapt easier to an older bird. Just like people, the older birds get set in their ways which can be problematic . . . LOL.  If you do want to keep them separate for a short time,  I have an inventory of cages you can use.

I truly hope the adoption of Mishu will be successful. Not all of them go smoothly.  I have had several for one reason or another that failed.  I wanted to prepare you in the event it happens.  I truly believe a bird chooses the family to love.  Giving Mishu time to settle in will be the test.

I am excited for her to join your family.  It will be a sad day and I may shed some tears.  She loves me so much but it is the right thing to do for her. As I mentioned, I will ask you to sign a very simple temporary contract that states she will be in your care until we both decide to make it a permanent adoption or return her to me.  It may take more than a month to come to that decision.  I am open to a time frame. 

Looking forward to seeing you and Mitch on Wednesday with Mishu and the new parakeet.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Dear Pat, We have been thinking about you and everything a lot. We are excited. The keet sounds adorable. Mitch is working on the cages today. I wish I could be there for the arrival. But Mitch plans to record it all.

Hi Catherine,  I am prepared for my visit tomorrow to bring Mishu and the little parakeet.  It will take me almost two hours in travel time.  I will be coming via Milwaukee Avenue past Dr. Sakas office.  

We can talk about making some fresh veggies for the parakeets.  A friend of mine uses a food processor or chopper to make the veggie mix as small as possible. The ingredients are the same for all birds.

This little parakeet is so adorable.  I believe it is a male. He is only 11 weeks old and fully weaned.  I’ve watched him eat seed, drink and eat some millet.  He is very tame.  

Pat, The keets diet – Maybe you can help me with the keets on getting them to eat well too. I am familiar with them being given nothing but seed and water and then they die young.

That is not what I want to do of course. Right now I started with a good Budgie seed mix by Hagen Living World that has seeds, dried fruits and veggies and tiny pellets. I also added some Leafy Greens and another mix by Higgins Small Fruits & Veggies, but want to encourage fresh food. Not so easy when the bird is so tiny.

I figure I can start with a hunk of romaine clipped to the cage, but beyond that, I am stumped. I admit parakeets are not in my list of birds I have had before. I did have a good number of beautiful Australian Grass keets years ago but they were big enough to eat my usual veggies and fruit mixes I gave to all the birds.

Catherine, Mishu is a very good eater.  All (even the doves) get a vegetable mix that includes plain pasta at 7:00 am every morning (all other food has been removed).  It is left in the cage for no more than 3 hours.  They are then given a mix of seed and pellets (more pellets than seed).  I mostly use Higgins brand for the seed and Zupreem for the pellets.  I also sometimes use Roudybush and Higgins In-Tune pellets.  I like to change it up so they don’t become bored.  Then at dinner time they get fruit. She loves apples very much.

I placed her on the jungle gym this morning while I was having a discussion with my mom’s hospice nurse. Mishu began crying and swaying back and forth.  The nurse said it sounded like a kitten.  She could be mimicking cats I had before they died of old age.  She wanted me to pick her up.  I also heard her trying to talk. I think she has unlimited potential.  I feel bad that I have not been able to give her as much attention she deserves.  She has out of cage time everyday.   She is not a vocal bird so she will not make a lot of noise.

Pat, I am not concerned with her talking, although if she does, that is fine too. At her age it is doubtful she will start. My male ringneck started to talk at 6 1/2 months old and was a sponge for new words until he was about 3 then had no interest in learning more.

bacon 7 eggs budgies on thermo perchg

We just set up the new cage for the keets, it is HUGE. I think they will be fine. I will be ordering another cage light for the keets cage as it is a dim corner.

I just cleaned up Popcorn’s cage (also the temporary Bacon home). Take a look, it you think it is too busy you are welcome to tell Mitch what needs to be done.

Both cages are not perfect, they don’t have grilles that slide out so I put paper on top of the grilles to make clean up easier. But until we can order new ones, they will be fine.

It will be very exciting to come how to a house full of chirping again. Mitch said he would be waiting for you on the front steps, LOL.

Dear Pat, Which Higgins seed mix did you use for Mishu? I am guessing a Conure Mix?

Higgins Sunburst Conure bird food blend is a nice one, it has Higgins Intune Pellets in it and I can also feed additional Intune Pellets available in a separate bag. I will bring them home tonight.

Catherine, That Higgins blend is good also.  I’ve been ordering Higgins Safflower Parrot and the Sunburst Conure mix as well so that is perfect.  This month I’ve changed the pellets to Zupreem.   You will find Mishu is not a picky eater and should do well for you.  I was going to bring a supply of food for her but sounds like you have what she likes.  I try not to order any blends with peanuts or sunflower.


P.S. Tell Mitch I will be bringing my female cockatoos along but will leave them in the car. They will be fine. My husband works from home and has a conference call during the time I will be away.  They scream if I am not there to quiet them.  They are quiet in the car so don’t worry about your neighbors.

Post The Arrival of Pat and Parrots:

Hi Mitch and Catherine.  I am very pleased on how the transition of these two birds went today.  I have high hopes that the parakeets will become best buds.  It took them all of 5 minutes before they were sitting side by side.  

If I could put a caption to it “you blink I am dominant one” . . .lol.  Since Eggs is only 11 weeks old please observe him eating and drinking.  I had his dishes on the bottom of the cage in case he couldn’t get to them higher up.  I forgot to give you some millet to give him a little to supplement his diet.

I am also happy Mishu stepped up to Mitch.  She was a little tentative but will get better in time (it might have been the facial hair).  She went right inside her cage to settle in.  She does like to be out on top of the cage so I’m not sure if she will with the light on top.

You’ll have to see how it goes.  Other option would be a separate device like a small jungle gym so she can get away from her safe place (cage).  It would be best to work with her away from the cage.  Don’t be afraid to stroke her neck and head and make those mouth gestures she loves to do.  Give me an update in a day or two on both of them.

Catherine, I gave Mitch 3 small bags of veggies.  He froze 2 of them.  Use the one we left out giving her 1/2 today and 1/2 tomorrow.  After that it will become rancid. I left you a list of ingredients I use to make it.  I forgot to put fruit on the list.  

She loves apples and anything else you want to try.  You can use the same menu for the keets just mash it up real good.  As you said you can clip some dark leafy green lettuce inside the cage as a treat.  Also gave Mitch some almonds for Mishu.  She can have 2 or 3 almonds or walnuts a day.  I’ve read recently that birds could have scrambled eggs in organic coconut oil only 2 times a month.

I probably sound like a nervous Nellie so I will close for now. Any questions let me know.  We can work thru any issues that may come up. Thanks and good luck!  I am up around 5 am daily which means I go to bed between 9 and 10 pm.  Feel free to contact me anytime.  I also have text capabilities.


written by catherine tobsing
approved by mitch rezman
approved by nora caterino

your zygodactyl footnote

Proper Bird and Parrot Cage Placement

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One of the first things I evaluate with a problem bird is their cage. Where it is located, size, shape, and how it is set up. Many behavior problems can be attributed to having your parrot in improper surroundings. Their cage should be a safe haven for them with plenty of things to keep them busy.

Types of Bird Cages

A good bird cage should be easy to keep clean, and it should not be round. The bar spacing should be appropriate for the type of bird or parrot that is housed in it. Whether or not you have a play top or a dome top is up to you. One of the best gifts you can give yourself and your parrot is a top of the line cage. When you skimp on a cage you just end up replacing it again and again. Do your research and get a cage that will last the lifetime of your parrot.

Bird Cage Placement

The cage should be placed in an area where you are sure your parrot will be able to view his surroundings safely without feeling threatened. You do not want to place a parrot directly in front of a window or in the center of a room. Our first response is to assume that they would enjoy the outside view or being right in the middle of a room so they can see everything. The truth is that this type of placement may be fine while your parrot is young. But once your parrot becomes sexually mature and aware that it is a prey animal, this type of placement will cause extreme stress upon him. Knowing this, a parrot should be placed against a solid wall, if this is not possible then the back half of the cage should be covered at all times. This will give him the sense of security that is needed.

Parrots do not live out in the open in the wild. They build nests inside of trees or in dense forest areas. So they may live and raise young safely. Therefore we should try to mock this type of environment by placing the cage in a more indiscreet area or our homes. One where they can take pleasure in their surroundings and not feel threatened. You will need also to consider your parrots sleep requirements. Does the placement of the cage allow for the proper amounts of undisturbed quite darkness? If not do you have a sleeping cage in another room? Sleep deprivation is a problem with many parrots I see. So if your parrot is not receiving at least ten to twelve hours of rest each night you will need to re evaluate his cage placement.

prevue 3161 dome top cage

Find this 20 x 20 inch Prevue dometop here

Do’s and dont’s for cage placement

  • Don’t place directly in front of a window
  • Don’t place in center of a room
  • Don’t place right on the edge of a doorway
  • Don’t place next to the TV that is watched late into the niter.
  • Don’t place in the kitchen because of toxic fumes
  • Don’t place in an unfinished basement
  • Don’t place in a utility room
  • Don’t place in the garage
  • Don’t place them in your bedroom
  • Do place them in a corner of the family room with a sleeping cage in another room
  • Do place them in a frequently used office or sitting room
  • Do have a bird room if you have multiple birds
  • Do place in an alcove or visible dining room
  • Do place them against a wall
  • Do place them so they have a view of the entire room without putting them as a focal point.
  • You want your parrot to be able to observe his environment so he learns to trust his surroundings.

Bird Cage Perches

There should be three different size perches in the cage. These perches should also different textures with at least one of the perches being a rope or Booda perch. The rope perch should be the one that is placed at the highest point for sleeping. Place this perch in a U shape in an upper back corner of the cage. This is especially important if you have a feather picker. It gives a sense of safety to the parrot, plus if they turn to pick, the rope is right there and they will opt to shred that.

all styles of bird cages found here

The other two perches should be wood or one wood one of a different texture of choice. I would also like to add that there does not have to be perches in front of every food dish. We tend to make life just a little too easy for these busy birds. Make them work a little.

Bird Cage Set up

Three different perches with the main wood one going horizontally across the middle. The rope perch should be in a U shape in an upper back corner. The third should be place just inside of the door so that when the door is opened the perch is brought out of the cage. By doing this you do not have to reach into the cage for step up commands that may be refused. When you want your parrot to come out you have him come down to this perch first, open the door once he is on it and request the step up. This is a must if your bird has aggression issues.

Bird Toys

Now it is time to add the toys. You should have at least three working toys in the cage at all times. Working toys are toys that make them work for their treats or favored foods. The other toys should be things that are easily shredded such as soft wood, paper, and leather, preferably all of the above. Good toys have many different shapes and textures for the bird to explore and destroy. Your parrot should have a minimum of ten toys in his cage at all time. You should not be able to see the parrot easily when he is in his cage. This is his home and he should feel camouflaged as he would if he was in the wild.

bacon the budgie in her cage

Place one of the working toys in front of the U shape perch, with the other working toy towards the front of the opposite corner. Place one of the other toys directly on the side of the U perch so that perch is surrounded by hanging toys. This allows your parrot a hiding place to feel secure. Now take paper towels, shredders, newspaper, leather, or brown paper bags and fold them up and weave into the cage bars making a little square section on the side and to the back of the U perch. Again this gives a sense of security to the parrot. Plus if you have a feather picker it gives them another option to chew instead of their feathers.

We have to remember that we took these birds from the wild and it is up to us to learn to understand their needs. Set their cage up in a way that is fun for them and keep it interesting. Busy beaks are happy beaks!

Thank You,

Michelle Karras
Published Birds USA
Slave to Twelve rescued Parrots

your zygodactyl footnote

How not to build outdoor aviaries for large macaw parrots

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Lil Morgan –

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 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 –

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

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


Your bird’s cage size matters less than you think

Read in 10 minutes

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.


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”


“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

Arranging your bird’s cage: The Cage Canopy Concept

Read in 6 minutes

Mitch mentioned something to me the other day that I had never given any thought to the cage canopy. I had more or less arranged toys in the top part of the cage, from instinct I suppose, but never knew why I did it or thought that others might not do exactly the same. 

In the wild, parrots and other types of flighted birds (as opposed to emus and ostriches (that can’t fly) spend a lot of time foraging, often on the ground. All the rest of their time is spent in the upper branches of trees.

This provides the best cover from predators by preventing the things that want to eat birds from easily spotting them while the rustling of leaves alerts the birds to the presence of some creature in time to make every effort to escape the danger. The birds play, sleep and nest for the most part in the top one-third of the tree canopy. 

Instincts from the wild carry over in our companion birds, no matter how many generations it has been since their ancestors saw the rainforest canopy. In their houses (my term for cages) they will go down onto the bottom of the cage to eat if their food source is placed low in the cage, to forage for dropped food, or if they are ill. Otherwise, companion birds still mostly stay in the top one-third of the cage when inside their houses.

Healthy companion parrots like to sleep on the top-most perch in a corner for security and to have less space to protect. If they sleep in a birdie bed, they want it to be as near the roof of the home as possible. They want toys in the upper reaches of the cage to play with while feeling as safe as possible; it’s just their nature.

When arranging a cage, place a perch or perches to provide easy access to the food and water service. Add perches at spaces moving up the cage, space so the bird has room to move easily toward the upper portion of the cage. A chain bridge or ladder can also be great for this purpose because these require minimal space.

large california cage filled with toys and bird accessories

Wanna see before?

On one side of the upper part of the cage, place a perch and arrange a “wall” of toys between the bird and the main part of the cage. This creates a privacy wall when the bird wants to hide for a little nap or quiet time alone. It also acts as a busy play station when the bird wants to play or forage. This way the bird can come out of its hiding place to play with other toys in the more open space or hide, whatever mood it feels. Unless it is an emergency, do not invade the bird’s safe hiding spot. Leave this as the bird’s equivalent of your bedroom, a place you go for quiet time where you do not expect to be disturbed unnecessarily

If your bird has a birdie bed, it should be hung on the other side of the cage with an easy entrance perch. When the bird is in its bed, respect its rest time and do not disturb it, whether it is having a daytime nap or has gone in for the evening.

The rest of the top third of the cage should have toys, perches and swings interspersed around near the sides but not so close together or in mid-cage that the bird will hit its head moving around. Lots of toys are wonderful but an overcrowded cage where the bird has no space at all in which to spread its wings is not well arranged.

 Remember to place foraging toys and puzzle toys in the arrangement so your bird will forage for food and keep its mind busy when it is confined to the cage while you are not home. Bell toys allow the bird to make noise and swings allow it to feel much like it is sitting in the breeze on a tree link. Preening toys should be interspersed with other toys to prevent the potential for over-grooming. 

 In the middle third of the cage, place a nice sturdy perch that is quite long or even as wide as the cage so the bird has an open space with a perch it can hold onto while flapping its wings for exercise. The cage should be wide enough to fully spread both wings at once and the open space should be tall enough to allow the wings to fully flap up and down without hitting any toys or other objects.

The perches you choose should be various textures. Grooming perches are important so that your bird can do most or all of its nail and beak grooming itself, preventing the need to capture the bird for a pedicure — something almost no bird likes. I did know a cockatoo once that would hold its foot up while it patiently had its nails filed, but that is a rarity. Concrete, mineral, java wood, manzanita and all types of perches should be included so your bird will have healthy feet. Be sure the diameter of the perches is correct for your species so that your bird will not develop arthritis or other foot ailments but also have some that have slight differences in diameter to rest the feet– after all a bird is on its feet 24/7/365 for all its life.

white cockatiel feeds from plastic mechanical bird toy

Your bird will likely choose one toy as it’s very favorite. That toy should not be moved except for cleaning and then it should be replaced in the same spot. But all the other toys should be rotated in their locations, changed for new ones, old ones added back in the mix so that the bird does not become bored. A toy that has been out of the cage for a couple of months is just like getting a new toy for the bird. Always be adding new toys because the oldest ones will wear out and the parts can be saved until you have enough to make another DIY toy for your bird.

All parts of the cage canopy — top, middle and bottom thirds — should be checked for safety. Look for fraying toys that could catch a toe or entangle the head or wing. If it can safely be trimmed, trim the offending hazard. If that does not seem to make it fully safe, remove the toy and add it to the toy parts box.

Make your parrot’s cage as much like its natural environment as possible by using the cage canopy concept for your bird’s comfort and happiness. A little thought can turn a cage into an environment that is real home for your bird.

written by nora caterino
approved by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing


I need a powder coated bird cage – but I’m not sure why

Read in 11 minutes

This question that came in recently is a reminder that we as a company should assume nothing.

“I have a dark colored copper cage that is about 25 years old. I am having a new cage bottom made. I would like to paint it with a powder coated paint. Do you have any products that would help me or do you know where I may purchase them”?

Regards – Mark

editors note – heard on the street: “I want a powder coated cage” “everyone is selling powder coated bird cages” “I don’t know what a powder coated cage is but I think my bird should have one”

Hi Mark

Having managed a small family run powder coat facility back in the last century I am intimately familiar with Electrostatic Powder Coating.

Your question also makes an important point. The majority of people let alone caged bird keepes have an opaque view of powder coating. File under setting the record straight.

A bird’s cage is the single most important apparatus he or she has. To that point we’ll be assisting you in raising your caged bird keeping knowledge-base and will augment written information found here on our blog with our new “cage cam” videos.

That’s right. We going to bring the camera inside the cage to help you see what your bird sees (although they see much better than we do). Going where no smart phone has gone before.


Yes, I know we’re awesome – thank you. Do you have a cage cam video? Send one our way and we’ll send you $5 in birdie bucks.

Time to hit the on ramp.

From Wikipedia – Powder coating is a type of coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder. The main difference between a conventional liquid paint and a powder coating is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler parts in a liquid suspension form. The coating is typically applied electrostatically and is then cured under heat to allow it to flow and form a “skin”. The powder may be a thermoplastic or a thermoset polymer. It is usually used to create a hard finish that is tougher than conventional paint.

Your cage bottom Mark, has to be sandblasted to create a rough surface guaranteeing adhesion by the powder which is applied by special electrostatic “guns” that charge the particles positively causing them to cling to the now grounded negatively charged – your cage bottom held by a frame designed for this purpose.


Catch tune – huh? I couldn’t find any bird cage manufacturing videos. If you happen to be bumming around China or Vietnam and pass a cage manufacturing facility we’d be grateful if you were to knock on the door and ask if you take some pictures and a little video for the friends back home.

In the meantime I found that video example of mass-produced powder coating facility. Just picture those posts as say, birdcage legs. This also drives home the point that powder coating is everywhere you look. It’s seen a lot today in outdoor furniture for consumers and at the commercial level. You’ll find it on commercial hand rails, mail boxes and more.


Based upon my experience Mark, I can relate to you that your cage bottom has to be suspended and/or run through an oven at approximately 400°F for eight or 10 minutes (depending on the powder used).

If you are truly motivated to DIY, it’s important to note that preparation of the surface is probably 3/4 of the process. It’s best to have a portable sandblaster from a company like Harbor Freight for surface preparation.


This fellow does a very good job of explaining the powder coat process in his video.


Paint on the other hand is readily available in cans: information on selecting the proper paint for birdcages can be found here


This where we take a slice of a holistic view of your captive bird’s environment.

Editor’s note: we give our birds far less credit than they deserve for their ability to adapt 2 cockatoos on barbed wire fence

Bird flocks in the wild tend to reside in the same general area in the same set of trees as long as the area proves to be “safe haven”. When birds are on the move looking for food, foraging, meaning they are flying a mile or two and landing somewhere. In most cases it will be on a tree that they never landed on – an arbitrary rock. This is why birds have few nerves in their feet. It makes adjusting “on a dime” to a rough new area – an everyday fact of life for a bird in its natural environment.


We also know that birds have no muscles in their feet. Their legs and feet are controlled by an eloquent pulley system made of two tendons in each leg. Thus when they clamp their feet fully around anything including cage bars, it is with the full force of their legs and feet.

3 feral love birds on cactus in Arizona DYK there are feral lovebirds living in Arizona cactus? barbed wire and catus teach us never to under estimate our bird’s abilities to adapt

This includes climbing up and down their cage. Something we encourage because the more they do it the more exercise they have and it helps maintain overall strength. When birds climb up and down ON their cage (we are leaving the discussion of perches and letters for another time) they are assisting their ascent or descent with their beak which is for razor blades having the potential strength of almost 300 psi. They are also “squeezing” cold hard metal – cage bars which stress your bird’s feet out

Which brings us to (FINALLY) to why we want our cages to be powder coated. and I really liked this powder coat DIY video because it’s a really low cost system using a house hold oven. (You can not cook food in an ovene once it has been usd for powder coating


When you paint anything, you are coating the “substrate” ie; the cage metal, dry wal, the restored piece of furniture” The “powder” In the term powder coating on the other hand chemically bonds to the metal substrate aka bird cage parts. As noted preparation of the surface is probably 3/4 of the process. While at Shelf-Kote everybody had to spend time in the sandblast booth. This is what we wore.

man in sand blast protective suit

Always hoping that somebody remembered to replace the air filter in the oxygen line before you were racing to meet a deadline.

Powder coating done right will withstand a parrots abusive feet and beak due to this unique marriage of particle and metal united in the church heat but all powder coating is not the same. Improper surface preparation Can lead to premature flaking of the coating.

We hear on occasion from people who say their bird is chewing the coating off the cage. To which we ask “how many toys are in the cage?” And the reply usually goes something like “he really likes that bell.”


btw: A bird cages natural enemy is water. Although the powder coating is impervious to liquid, the square tubular components usually forming the corner of larger right I am bird cages are hollow.

When the interior of this metal gets wet it is slow to dry and accelerates rust. This happens a lot when you drag your bird cage out to the driveway the moment the snow has melted. This is your day in the sun to try new new 2580 psi pressure washer on your cockatoos cage that has gotten, well – soiled – over the winter.

Kemosabe – Put the wand down and step away from the power washer. There will be a puddle of water inside each of the four corners with the casters that attach to the metal tubes. If it’s a really good fit with the plastic fittings there could be a small puddle of water at the bottom of each of your cage’s is feet for weeks. The deck will be there when the snow clears.

Keep the cage where it is. Place something like an office chair mat or a scrap piece of vinyl flooring under the bird cage protect your floor and have an easy to clean surface. Get a hand held steam cleaner. If we could find one to sell you that we can make a buck on without ripping you off you would see the CTA (call to action) button here – to buy one now. You’re on your own for finding one grasshopper but it will solve not only the cleaning of the cage but the cleaning of the accessories with in the cage while sanitizing everything without the use of chemicals. Take that, environmentalists.

Cagescaping tip: Before installing anything new into the cage, It’s important that you’ve observed your birds movement throughout the cage and are aware of its “poop trajectories”. This will save time in daily cleaning and maintenance and make for a healthier environment. When poop is on accessories like ladders, Your bird later will groom its own feet – nuff said.

You are a caged Bird keeper, which is why you are reading this. Your bird is a captive bird. If you took your cage outside with your bird in it and open the door your bird would eventually fly out never to be seen again. With this whole powder coat metal bird feet tendon beak thing in the background, I hope you can begin to see why although a cage is useful for your bird to navigate you can put undue stress on its feet. Your bird’s beak attacking it daily certainly is not prolonging the life of said birdcage.

Rather than fighting the cage, use the cage as support system for multiple thoroughfares and gateways inside and outside of the cage. Booda soft rope perches are one of the most effective birdcage accessories for this purpose.


I hope you found this brief journey into the mysteries of birdcage manufacturing, interesting. At least more so than knowing what the numbers on the side wall of your car tires mean.

The two-digit number after the slash mark in a tire size is the aspect ratio. For example, in a size P215/65 R15 tire, the 65 means that the height is equal to 65% of the tire’s width. The bigger the aspect ratio, the bigger the tire’s sidewall will be.

written by mitch rezman approved by catherine tobsing

Your Zygodactyl footnote


I provide foster care for Oasis Sanctuary parrots in need of medical care. I currently have 18 of the nearly 800 Oasis parrots in my care. I ordered your full spectrum light bulbs and they arrived today. I want to thank you for the competitive price for the bulbs. All 6 are now in use. One is over a plucked Vos Eclectus female’s cage where it will assist in breaking down bilirubin and aid in vitamin D production and calcium absorption. This parrot has liver disease and chronically low serum calcium despite daily calcium supplements.


The second bulb is in use for a Scarlet Macaw who 21 years ago broke her back. She has many health problems now and the bulb will supply UVA & UVB light rays to help her. The third bulb is in a light to provide general lighting to the area where the macaw & eclectus spend their days with 2 other parrots. The last 3 bulbs are installed in the “Chat Room.” This is a bedroom housing sleeping quarters for 13 parrots and it is the daytime play area for 7 of the birds. Their medical needs range from old age to recovery from surgery.

I just wanted you to know the use I put the bulbs to in case anyone asks what they are “good for.”

Ruth Ann La Rue – The Oasis Sanctuary – Business Manager & Foster Care Provider Customer

Dear Ruth Ann

Thank you for telling us about your use of the bulbs. It sounds like they are doing the best they can for the birds. We are thrilled to hear this. I hope the birds “feel better” for them being there.

Thank you very much – Catherine