In our homes, birds live in cages. Some people can build outdoor flights for their birds, but as a general rule people lack the space to do this, or, like where I live, the weather is prohibitive. A bird’s cage is often the place where the bird will spend the majority of their time. You want to give the bird as much space as possible while still ensuring their safety. For example, you can’t put a cockatiel in a macaw cage because the large bar spacing can cause a risk of injury.
Cages should always contain various perches and toys to keep your bird entertained during their time in the cage. I also recommend using newspaper for the lining of the cage. It’s cheap or free easy to change and easy to keep track of the bird’s stool to identify illness, and there is no risk of ill effects from ingesting it. My birds have a newspaper in their cage trays without any grates, but grates are good if your bird wants to tear up the newspaper or is going through a hormonal time and is shredding newspaper in nesting behavior. Admittedly, I do not use grates because my birds do not wreck newspaper and that means one less thing to clean.
Birds should have different types of toys to give them an opportunity to engage in many types of behaviors. Wood toys are always a good place to start because a bird’s natural inclination is to chew stuff up. Toys that contain plastic, bells and other interesting things give birds a little bit of variety. You can also add toys specifically meant to be easily shredded or provide things like paper towel or toilet paper rolls. Finally, there are a lot of cool puzzle or foraging toys that you can put food. Remember toys should always be safe. So you don’t want to give your birds anything too big. You also want to watch out for things your bird can get a toe, or a beak stuck in. For example, any toys with rope or cloth should be monitored so that there aren’t too many loose threads. Also, birds can have swings in their cage but you want to make sure that there is lots of space for them to play.
Perches are also important considerations when setting up your cage. There are many different types of perches and, like everything else, variety is key. There are wood perches, rope perches, and even textured perches that file your bird’s nails while they stand and climb on them. I never recommend using straight dowels in cages because the uniformity of the surfaces can be detrimental. Also, perches that file your bird’s nails should be used sparingly. Sometimes the texture of the perch can wear down the skin of your bird’s feet..not good. This happened to my bird, Barri, so I have removed the textured perches. In my bird cages, there are primarily wood perches. This is mostly because, in their play area, my birds have access to swings that are made out of cotton or sisal rope. Therefore, given their entire environment, they have plenty of variety.
In addition to a proper cage, it is important for birds to have a fun play area where they can get out of their cage and exercise. My birds have a play area that consists of manzanita trees as well as swings that hang from the ceiling (at least they will as soon as I finish putting my house back together from the remodel).
Many manzanita trees have hooks on them where you can hang additional toys for them to play with while they’re out playing. As soon as I rehang their ceiling swings, I will post pictures of those. I place their swings over their trees so there is essentially a tray underneath and you aren’t getting your floor completely dirty!