We all know that highly social, intelligent birds such as parrots do not fare well when bored. Excessive screaming, feather-plucking, pacing and other harmful behaviors quickly take hold when parrots are kept alone and left without stimulation. Macaws are especially hard to accommodate – their incredible strength and boundless energy present a real challenge to owners seeking to keep them busy. A spate of questions on this topic, posed recently by macaw owners, has prompted me to write this article. Read More »
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As always, this year I spent ThatPetPlace’s annual sale weekend on site at our giant store (the world’s largest!) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I was, as usual, thrilled to meet so many readers – thanks for stopping by. I also took the opportunity to take a close look at our larger bird cages, some of which are sold at 60% below chain store and local pet store prices. Today I’d like to highlight 2 that are ideal for Macaws, Cockatoos, Toucans, Mynas, Doves and larger Parrots.
The Importance of Cage Size
Cage size is a critical consideration when keeping any animal, but takes on special importance where active, intelligent species such as parrots are concerned. This is especially true in situations where the birds are confined to their cages for most of the day.
The proper cage will add greatly to your bird’s health and quality of life, and will certainly render it a more responsive pet and companion.
An Ideal Cage for Larger Birds
I’m particularly impressed by our enormous A&E Dual Space Saver Cage. Of course, all parrots do best when allowed time to explore outside their cages in a safe, bird-proofed room, but this cage is ideal for times when this is not possible.
Suitable even for the largest Macaws and Cockatoos, the Space Saver can also accommodate pairs of smaller Parrots, as well as larger Doves, Toucans and Mynas. This behemoth of a cage is almost 7 feet long and over 3 feet wide, and stands 6 feet high. A sliding partition enables one to create 2 cages – ideal for introductions or the permanent housing of multiple species (or for use during avian “marital disputes”!).
The Space Saver is designed so as to fit into one’s home, not stand out– it is well constructed, attractive and available in charcoal, blue, green, platinum, white and sandstone.
Mammal Keepers Take Note
While looking over this cage, my animal-keeper’s mind wandered back to those times when I kept mammals as well as birds. With a few simple modifications, I can see this cage as being very useful for those of you who care for Prehensile-tailed Porcupines, Red, Prevost’s and other Squirrels, Spotted Skunks and similar creatures.
Large Cages for Tight Spaces
Another nicely designed enclosure that caught my eye is the A&E Space Saver Hexagonal Cage. Nearly as large as the Dual Cage, it has a pleasing shape that allows one to make use of corners and other such spaces in the home. Available in 6 colors, its tough bars and built in seed-catchers suit it well for the toughest of our avian friends.
As you might imagine, the shipping costs on huge, metal cages can be substantial – so we eliminated them! Both cages are shipped free-of-charge.
A unique take on the importance of cage size is given in this Duke University article.
Please see How Much Room Does a Finch Need? for thoughts on cages for smaller birds.
Parrots, be they Budgies, Cockatiels, Lovebirds or Macaws, must be kept busy and challenged by their environments if they are to become well-adjusted pets. One of the best ways to tempt them to explore and try new activities is via a tasty reward. Several of our new products offer exciting possibilities in this area, and lots of fun for you and your pet as well.
Few parrots can resist the urge to “improve” a potential nesting hole – the Snak Shak Bird House is all the more attractive as it is comprised of honey and alfalfa. Available in 2 sizes, the Snak Shak will interest all small to medium sized parrots and may even help to spur real nesting behavior.
Our edible perches are available in straight and vine-like styles. As the perches are consumed, they change size and shape, causing the parrot to engage in a variety of acrobatics in order to both remain on the perch and eat it at the same time – great fun!<!–more–>
Designed along the lines of similar items used in zoos, Enrichment Pods are more in the nature of “enrichment activities” than toys, although they certainly will entertain you and your pet. All are re-fillable and suited for Budgies, Cockatiels, Lovebirds and similarly-sized pets.
The Hide-and-Go-Treat and Forage Frenzy challenge parrots to find and then figure out how to remove favorite treats while the Polly Puzzler requires birds to match wooden blocks or treats to the properly-shaped hole.
Planet Pleasures Ecologically-Friendly Toys
Our Fair Trade manufactured Planet Pleasures Toys are made of palm leaf, coconut shell, bamboo, oyster shell and other durable, natural materials. Constructed so as to provide an interesting, complex surface, they will keep your parrots busy for hours. The Coco Rocket is designed for especially enthusiastic chewers, but the Bamboo Man, Birdie Bouquet and Hula Skirt can all stand up to a great deal of abuse.
Please see Behavioral Enrichment for Parrots for more thoughts on this important topic.
Parrots that are accustomed to working for treats on a regular basis are easier to train than bored birds. Check out this amusing Cockatoo video and see what’s possible.
The importance of dietary variety is a constant (annoyingly so, some say!) theme in my writing. In my own and zoo collections I have noticed improved health, color, vitality and breeding success when appropriate variety is introduced to most any type of bird. Providing foods in different forms, especially where birds must search or otherwise “work” for their food, is also a very useful means of improving the general quality of their lives.
I have found that even birds that are known to live long captive lives on somewhat limited diets show great improvements in their condition when variety is introduced. Be it frogs offered to fishing owls or fresh sprouts provided to red bishops and other finches, the vigorous reactions induced by novel foods leaves me with no doubt as to their value.
A Practical and Inexpensive Tool
Of course, life often intrudes on our abilities to provide our pets with diets comprised of dozens of ingredients, however noble our intentions. That Pet Place Variety Treat Packs offer an ideal solution by combining several types of difficult-to-find foods in one convenient package…and at a lower price than if the items were purchased individually.
There is a specially formulated Variety Pack for all types of popularly kept birds, including large macaws and large parrots, conures and small parrots, lovebirds, cockatiels, doves, finches, canaries and parakeets.
Each pack contains a wide variety of foods, with some in the form of toys that encourage natural foraging behaviors. Lafeber Nutri-Meals and Avi Cakes, which are helpful in introducing pelleted foods to bird diets, are included in some of the packs. Other ingredients include fruit, nut and berry treats, dried coconut, papaya and other tropical fruits and honey-dipped seed sticks.
For a look at what it was like to prepare bird diets for a collection numbering thousands of individuals, please see my article Alternative Bird Diets, Yesterday and Today.
In caring for birds at home and in zoos, I have found that having emergency care items on hand has often prevented minor mishaps from turning into disasters. Supplements that aid in preventative health care are also essential. Today I have assembled a list of products that parallel those used in public aviaries, and which should be every private bird keeper’s possession.
Bird First Aid Kit
The VSI Bird First Aid Kit is stocked with powdered styptic, bandages, antiseptic wipes, forceps and many other useful products, this kit has everything you need to deal with minor emergencies. The emergency card included in the kit is most helpful.
Lafeber Powdered Vitamins can be used on a daily basis, and are especially useful in that they can be applied to food or water.
Virbac Vita Flight Supplement is flavored with fruit and therefore well-accepted by many birds. It is designed for use during stressful times, such as when a bird has been re-located or is molting, breeding or recovering from an illness. Another of Virbac’s products, Ornabac, is fortified with extra Vitamin B, an important nutrient during especially stressful events.
Feather and Skin Care
Scalex Mite and Lice Spray should always be on hand to address external parasites.
Bitter Apple has long been favored as a means of discouraging feather plucking. It is most effective when applied as soon as plucking commences, and therefore should always be on hand.
Disguised as an attractive toy, the volcanic pumice in Four Paws’ Pumice Kabob is one of the most effective materials for keeping bird beaks naturally trimmed and in prime condition.
I’ve written a number of other articles addressing bird medicine and health. Please see The Diagnosis and Treatment of Ailments Afflicting Cage Birds and the articles referenced there for more information.
Scarlet macau image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by VC-s.