Ahh the quintessential cage, standard issue with two dishes near the bottom and two straight round half-inch perches. How I hate them.
Now this is an important topic to me because I believe every animal should be kept in the most natural way possible. It is one of the strange quirks I have from my time at the aviary and zoo this year. While birds are our pets, I think they still deserve to have a natural existence.
Cage design and habitat manipulation to many people probably mean about the same thing. To me each of these two phrases mean something totally different. My definition of cage design is where a human designs a bird’s cage based on factors like appealing looks, functionality (aka less cleaning), and many ideas of the “Right thing” for their birds. Habitat manipulation on the other hand is where a human picks and arranges a cage and its accessories in a way that mimics nature to make the birds life more interesting, natural, and healthy. Now I believe everybody wants whats best for their bird and I’m not saying my way is the best, but this is generally how I go about picking and designing a cage.
When I choose a cage I think about what type of bird will be living in it. In the wild some birds like budgies and cockatiels spend their day flying from place to place in search of food while others like macaws and conures use climbing as their primary mode of transport. Most people do not factor this into their choice of cages for birds. If Im choosing a cage for a cockatiel or budgie I would choose a wider and deeper cage before worrying about how tall it was. If I was choosing a cage for a conure I would want a taller cage. Not only does this allow for a more natural environment for the bird but they will also utilize more of their cage. Another thing I look for is a cage with higher food dishes. In the wild most bird would eat while high in the trees not near the ground also this prevents debris and droppings from falling in their cup. The final thing i look for in cages is size. I like to always give a bird more room then it needs. WIth a larger cage there is more room to work with when adding things in and better options for food placement.
Choosing the cage is just the first step in my process. The Second step is adding things in and just like with everything else I try to mimic nature as much as possible. In nature no two perches are the same size, length texture, roughness, all varies and lends to foot and claw care. when I choose perches for my cage they generally are all different size thicknesses and lengths, and I try to get bendable and different textured perches. Jules’s cage has two rope perches both a different thickness and length, one natural wood perch that is much thinner than any of his other perches, a thicker pediperch, and two standard issue wood perches. When I arrange these perches i try to make them also mimic nature I don’t focus all of the perches in one area I position them throughout the length and height of the cage. This wide array of perches situated at different heights allows the bird to have a choice of where in his cage he wants to be and what he wants to stand on. Another thing I do differently is I try to put the food dishes away from the bottom, and treat dishes I move around each time I put them in the cage. This mimics nature with food high in the “trees” and the bird having to look for and examine different types of food. I also like to cover my food sometimes with paper shreds to make the bird “forage”.
All of these things I believe makes a bird life more natural and helps them stay healthy and happy. Next you design your birds cage try doing it in a way to mimic nature. You might also start calling it Habitat manipulation.