Perches and Swings
Having a range of perches in your birds cage is essential to it’s comfort. Different sizes and textures exercise your birds feet and can make it more comfortable for them to stand for long peroids of time. Your birds are almost always on their feet, so this is a necessity.
One of our cockatiels favourite perches is a natural branch. I believe the one we have is manzanita wood, but you can buy ones made of java and other types of wood, or make one yourself from a bird safe tree, that has not been sprayed with chemicals. Ours takes up a third of their cage and twists, slopes and bends all over the place. It has many different thicknesses along it, and the wood doesn’t get too cold so it’s very comfortable for them. We have two other natural perches. These are Y-shaped and still covered in bark. The budgies inparticular enjoy chewing on these and stripping the bark from them.
Rope perches are another big favourite. You can get them made of either sisal or cotton, generally wrapped around a piece of wire, and come in a wide range of lengths and thicknesses. The main advantage of these is their flexibility. You can put them straight across the cage, in a curve across the corner of the cage, in a semi-circle on one side of the cage, at different heights between the top and bottom and so on. They’re also nice and soft and warm for your birds and they’re our cockatiels favourite sleeping perches. You must keep an eye on them though, to ensure they do not fray in a way that could catch your birds feet, and replace them if neccesary.
We also have “Smart Perches”. These are synthetic perches made of a wood cellulose and virgin PE mix. They’re waved and textured and our budgies love to chew on them, smoothing away the texture. Smart perches are sold in three sizes, labled budgie, cockatiel and amazon, however, our budgies get the cockatiel size and the cockatiels use both the cockatiel and amazon sizes happily.
Calcium and mineral perches can be a good way to get needed nutrients into birds that won’t eat a cuttle bone or mineral block. They come in many colours and if you don’t want your birds to change colour, pink should be avoided. For many months, our budgies had pink heads, flight feathers and tails from rubbing them on their calcium perch. Currently we have green and blue which haven’t changed our birds feathers, although Lofty did have a slightly blue beak for a while.
Concrete, pumice and sandy perchs are the last two generally found. These are good for keeping your birds nails trimmed, however your bird should not spend too much time sitting on these as they can be too rough for your birds feet. You should put them somewhere your bird will perch on them at least once a day, but will not spend too much time on them. A common place to put them is next to water dishes.
Ladders almost count as a perch so they’ll also be mentioned here. Most birds love ladders. They’re great to help them up and down to the different levels of their cage, especially if you have lot of vertical bars in your cage. Kami and Lofty love chewing on the rungs of their ladders, and also spend a lot of time going down to the cage floor, picking up a pellet in their beak, climbing the ladder and eatting the pellet on a perch, then going back down and starting again. When giving your bird a ladder, you must ensure that the spacing is large enough that the bird cannot get caught between the rungs.
Swings are very popular with all sizes of birds. Our budgies have a couple which they love, made from two or three cotton rope rings hanging from each other, and at least one of these is slept in every night. The cockatiels on the other hand have a wooden swing, with wooden beads. This is great for them, because it’s fairly heavy and therefore doesn’t swing too much when they jump on to it. Swings are great for exercising leg muscles and improving balance.
Chains are a popular toy for birds. Kami hates the movement of the chain so she almost never goes on it, but Lofty has been tempted out onto one by making it into a foraging toy (see the Log and Chain post). You can buy them from pet shops, or get them from a DIY/hardware shop where you can choose the size, colour and length you want. When buying a chain, ensure your bird cannot get feet or heads stuck in the links, and that they do not contain PVC.