Why is knowing about perches so important if you’re a bird keeper?
Birds are on their feet 24/7. Understanding the perch/foot dynamic will help ensure a high quality of life for your bird(s), especially because with birds we think of companionship in terms of decades.
If you have a parrot you should know the term zygodactyl foot – a bird’s foot having the first and fourth toes of each foot directed backward and the second and third forward
It’s OK for a perch to be a little smaller or larger in diameter than the “recommended sizes” you’ll read about on the web. Basically don’t install a perch too large that a bird’s foot can’t grab comfortably (except for manicure perches) and/or may cause a bird to fall.
Conversely, too small a diameter may allow a bird’s foot to wrap all the way around causing the front nails too and cause pain or injury to its rear toes (because of the zygodactyl thing) Got it?
Hahns Macaw on Sand Blasted Manzanita
Hardwoods – Most cages come with at least one hardwood dowel perch. An additional hardwood should be introduced such as Dragonwood or Manzanita Perches.
These woods offer not only durability but usually have uneven surfaces with knurls and knots. The varying diameter of these branches causes the bird’s feet to constantly adjust, thus providing needed foot exercise.
Rope can be in the form of a perch you attach to your cage like Booda soft rope perches. It can also be just rope. You can attach rope with a simple knot (never tie knots in chain please) Rope is soft on a bird’s feet and also gives them something to tear up with their beaks
Concrete, Sand, Terra-Cotta commonly called grooming perches can help your feathered friends nails and beak stay trimmed. Your bird will scrape its beak on a grooming perch much like rubbing a knife blade against a sharpening stone.
Grooming perches are not meant to be slept on as the constant abrasion will do harm to their feet over time. It’s best to put grooming perches near food dishes.
Birds are active while eating and the constant foot motion will wear down clothing sticking nail points.
Birds will also like to remove particulate from their beaks and scraping beaks on grooming perches will help keep them in optimal shape.
When sizing grooming perches, the feet should not completely wrap around the perch so nails are dragged over the rough surface to keep them from getting sharp.
Some perches are actually made of concrete but we prefer Hagen and Prevue grooming perches for their bird foot-friendly abrasive surface. They won’t necessarily let you skip nail trimming but can keep points blunt.
PVC is found in everything from the dash of your car to vinyl windows and no wonder. It’s resistant to scratches, temperature change and will take just about any abuse, perfect material for parrots! It’s also pretty easy to clean because of the non-porous surface.
The drawback to the smooth surface of PVC is that a bird may literally slip off.
It’s not uncommon to get a new PVC accessory and see this occur which can be cured by simply rubbing emery or small grit sandpaper along the length of the perch.