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Money Saving Tips for Owners of Parrots, Finches and other Birds

Bird-keeping is a most enjoyable hobby, and becomes a passion for many, but there’s no denying that expenses can add up.  Following are some simple ways to cut costs.

Cage and Furnishings

Your bird’s home is likely to be your biggest one-time cash outlay.  A number of beautiful cages and outdoor aviaries are available, but building your own cage, or hiring someone to do so, may be a cheaper option.  Creating a bird room within your home might also save money, especially for those who keep large parrots, macaws or colony-dwelling doves and finches.

Well-washed fruit tree branches make excellent substitutes for commercial perches, especially for those parrots that destroy any and all wood within reach.  Another benefit of using natural perches is that you can easily provide your bird with a variety of perch widths and textures; this will help keep the feet in good shape.  Avoid collecting branches from areas sprayed with pesticides.


Many finches and softbills do best when regularly supplied with insects; large quantities are essential for most species during the breeding season.  Collecting insects will provide important dietary variety at little or no cost (please see article below).

Also consider setting up a mealworm colony…not only can you breed all the grubs you’ll need, but you’ll also be able to select newly-molted individuals and the pupae, which are more nutritious than other lifer stages.  A colony will also ensure a supply of tiny mealworms for small species and nestlings.

Gardening for birds is enjoyable and cost-effective, and will allow you to provide your pets with important nutrients that are otherwise hard to find.  Consider also sprouting seeds at home.


From pine cones to piles of dead leaves, nature provides an infinite variety of materials that can be used to keep your pets active and interested in their environments.  You can also use a variety of free and inexpensive items to create your own toys (please see video below).


White Crowned ManakinHeating your bird’s cage or room may, in some cases, be more effective and less expensive than warming the entire house or apartment.  This is especially true for those who keep cold sensitive species in regions experiencing severe winter weather.  Please see the article below for some useful ideas and products.

Full Spectrum Light

UVA and UVB radiation seem to play an important role in bird health and breeding success, and in encouraging natural behaviors.  Full spectrum bulbs designed specifically for birds are available, but nothing beats exposure to natural sunlight (take precautions, of course, to ensure your pet’s safety).  Glass and plastic filter-out beneficial UV rays, so you’ll need to keep your bird outdoors or in a screened sun room when utilizing natural sunlight.

Further Reading

Breeding Mealworms

Video: making parrot toys

Collecting Insects for Birds 

Heating Bird Cages and Rooms  




  1. avatar

    My budgie, Chubbs, loves toilet paper tubes. I cut them into one inch rings, and loop them over her perches, and she has tons of fun destroying them. Occasionally, as a special treat, I coat the with a VERY thin layer of peanut butter and roll them in seeds and treats. I seem to have gotten lucky with her; without fail, if I spend more than $5 on a toy, she’ll want absolutely nothing to do with it. The most expensive toy she has is a $4 on the has several drawers for her to open to get to her treats.

  2. avatar

    Hello Alicia, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the most interesting post..thanks for the great idea, I’m sure others will benefit. I used the same for smaller birds at the Bronx Zoo, and also for rodents of all types – very versatile and a wasted resource, I think. In fact, we also used TP rolls as a substrate to rear roaches and crickets (food animals for others) – lots of surface area and great hiding spots!

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep the ideas coming,

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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