Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Hi! I very much enjoy your emails and all the information you provide. By the way, my green conure (Wyndle) looks just like the bird you have in the picture with you, Mitch.
Wyndle is a “mutt”, not a pedigree like my Sun Conure was. She has a HUGE personality and is full of spunk; very strong, inquisitive, eats all day (not overweight, tho), etc.
She has a large birdcage that is 4 feet high, 3 feet wide, and 2 feet deep. She has plenty of room to spread her wings, walk all over and her favorite is acrobatic, upside-down walking at the top. That’s her daily exercise.
Recently, I was forced to clean her domain! YIKES! She was more well behaved than I anticipated in her small travel cage as she watched me laboring ALL DAY! All her toys came down, got cleaned and I scrubbed the cage for hours.
What an ordeal! Sadly, some of her toys were too far gone and had to be thrown away. I put many of them back but the cage now seemed bare. I worked hard to get her back to her home quickly and that began the horrible “upset”.
Somehow, I had forgotten that BIRDS DO NOT LIKE CHANGE! She had a FIT! After all, how did I have the RIGHT to mess with HER home?! She was absolutely miserable the rest of the evening. I felt so bad for her.
Her home had been invaded and it was now bare. She was hurting! So, for the next week, I bought new toys but especially bought a LOT of those $1 colorful dog rope toys.
She LOVES THOSE! I hang them and she likes to shred them. I was in the position to “cover those large empty areas (walls) of her home immediately!
So, I began to shred the ropes myself to spread them open more and cover more space. As I did this, the walls became more “comfortable” for her and seemed more like home to her.
She’s been FINE ever since. I surprised myself over this long-term adventure especially as I KNEW birds didn’t like change.
I believe it’s important to make a transition like this quick and simple but as gentle as possible for them. This is their personal, private space ~ their HOME and it’s everything to them. ‘Just my 2 cents… Kathy Wells (PS: I play a repeating CD every night for Wyndle of “Somewhere Out There” to help her go to sleep.
~The top half of her cage looks out the window so she can “bark” at passersby~ She watches cartoons ALL DAY LONG! She actually sings to the Spongebob theme song (didn’t know a bird could say “square” pants!)~She plays that “hello” game with me like Marco-Polo.
She says hello, I say hello back…on and on and on ~When I tell her how strong she is, she immediately goes to the top of the cage and starts walking upside down.
She loves the big bell at the end of her sisal rope perch on the cage floor but she has to get under it on her back to ring it. It’s funny to watch~she comes out of her home whenever she wants to but usually doesn’t want to).
Sometimes I’m sad that a majority of people do not or may not ever know how truly fulfilling a relationship with a bird can be. They’re intelligent, kind, and loving which makes them such a good friend.
The fact that people think birds do not like change is a myth perpetuated by the uneducated bird owner and nothing is farther from the truth. Not changing your bird’s environment on a frequent basis invites two problems.
First, one major change to their lives after having a static environment for a period of time may trigger negative behavior like plucking, self-mutilation, screaming or biting.
It is also unfair to your bird who literally processes thought at three times the rate of mammals.
Since USWS (Unihemispheric slow-wave sleep) allows for one eye to be open, the cerebral hemisphere that undergoes slow-wave sleep varies depending on the position of the bird relative to the rest of the flock.
This means a bird can be fully asleep but half of its brain is awake and alert.
Does this sound like an animal that enjoys dormancy?
I equate that birds don’t like that change thing to the following reasoning “clipping a bird’s wings will make for a safer and happier bird”, is way off the mark – but I digress.
The problem I have with rope toys for dogs at pet stores is that you are not sure about the type of rope and the weave may be too loose causing toes to get stuck in them especially not they are frayed.
All rope bird toys have a much tighter weave than most dog rope pull toys.
By not cleaning the birdcage for a long period of time means that when you do clean the birdcage it will be unavailable for a longer period of time.
I spend 5 to 10 minutes on our two birdcages 5 to 7 days a week so that’s an hour a week.
Bird toys come in a large variety of materials. Wood, leather, and plastic to name a few. Birds will set out to destroy certain toys while leaving other toys to hide behind or rest against while sleeping. They are their furniture.
Toys in a birdcage should be inspected at the very least weekly and rotated at least once a month.
With the toys that are being destroyed, it is inevitable that some toys become a danger to the bird in the cage.
The fact that some of her bird toys were too far gone and had to be thrown away is a two-parter. If a toy is too far gone it may present a danger to the bird with exposed shards/splinters of wood or metal components.
Attachment rings may be split. Toes could get caught in some chain or cracked piece of plastic bird toy part. We encourage caged bird keepers to give the toys a quick once over daily and at least once a week look at them and touch them to make sure they do not present a danger to the bird.
The flip side to that is that when I see parts of toys fall off to the bottom of the cage I immediately pick them up so they’ll not get pooped on and add them to any one of her many forging boxes.
You can also reattach bird toy parts that have fallen off old and even newer toys with leather thongs, quick links, or rope.
Birds need to be upset. They need their world to be rocked.
They need to be handled and restrained on a regular basis. They need to know that a towel is a friend, not a threat.
Birds that seem “miserable” are simply disoriented and that’s a good thing. For the bird to take time to reacquaint itself with a new environment puts a load on the thought process reducing birdie boredom.
I agree that the birdcage is a place for privacy for your bird but is not a real home, it is and always will be a jail.
How we arrange our toys in the cage is most important. We must realize the toys in a cage represent the leaves on a tree that the bird is living in if it were in the wild.
We use toys to challenge using forging and enrichment opportunities. We also use toys to have privacy to a bird’s cage.
A personal philosophy is a parrot’s cage should have 10 to 30 toys in the top third of the cage. So many that you can’t see the bird.
Why? What’s in your bedroom? Do you not have window coverings that you pull down or close before you undress and go to sleep? Of course. You want to feel private and secure, so does your bird.
I would advocate that you take the sisal rope perch off the floor so doesn’t get soiled. It is a great perch and that is soft on a birds feet.
I couldn’t agree more that “They’re intelligent, kind and loving which makes them such a good friend”.
Keep in mind, it is said often that “birds are like an autistic two or three-year-old in a feather suit.”
What do you do with a toddler? You read to them, you buy them many toys. You take them places, as they get older you go to zoos and museums.
You don’t leave them at home in a room by their lonesome with nothing to do. If that were to be the case you would be charged with criminal neglect, but we don’t do that with bird owners.
We would also agree the child would exhibit negative behavior when interacting with other human beings.
“Treat your bird as you would a child and all will be good”
Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing
This Post Has 5 Comments
smchapman21 Oct 2017
Blueberry loves change. Anything new is an instant hit. He is rarely caged.
WindyCityParrot1 Oct 2017
Julie1 Oct 2017
Love this article and so very true. I used to do parrot rescue & rehab in Chicago for the GCCBC about 20 years ago. At that time I had 6 parrots no one wanted because of different quirks in their personality. That’s ok, I loved them for who they are. My birds are fine with change. I changed jobs which I had to travel and move often. My feathered kids moved with me. It was more work, but that’s all part of the adventure! As long as I kept a positive atomosphere and kept their carriers together they were fine. In their eyes we were a flock.
I agree with checking the toys and happy to know I’m not the only person that saves parts of the toys! I check their toys daily when I feed and water.
Now I work from home, they’re out a good part of the day and have a window to look out. I’ve had my feathered kids 30 years and I never stop learning. I never thought about having 10 or more toys in the cage. I think I’ll give it a try. They all have a space in their cage that’s sectioned off they can have their privacy and I cover them up every night.
My cage cleaning is a bit different. I still have 4 parrots. My cage cleaning takes about an hour, twice a week. But I have to admit part of that time is paying attention to them or giving them a bath.
I enjoy your articles. It lets me see what others are doing and what else I can learn.
Have a wonderful day and sorry about the long response!
WindyCityParrot1 Oct 2017
We love long responses Julie 🙂
Julie19 May 2019
This came across my feed and I re read it again like I never saw it, yet I responded when it was written. I love reading your articles since they’re very informative and I can always learn something or something I forgot to do. My birds have no issues with change, not even my African Grey.
My birds are good with change. I noticed they’re as long as the “flock” is together. If they’re in their carriers, and I take one out of the room, they start calling for each other until they’re together. My conure recently passed away of what I’m assuming was old age. His estimated age was 37. He was found during a Chicago snow storm and the GCCBC called me and asked if I had room for a little guy to live out his life with, which could be a matter of days. He was beaten up, starved and some toes were bent in different directions. The amazing Dr Sakas thinks it was from other birds biting him. I’m happy to say he proved them wrong. I had him 37 years! Merlin always did things his ways anyway and eventually became the boss of the bird flock. Even the macaws listened to him! He passed away in my arms in March and the other birds were quiet for days mourning his loss. They all dealt with it in different ways and eventually things got back to normal. We just buried him last week. We had to wait for the ground to thaw.
Birds are amazing animals and aren’t as fragile as people think. My African Grey sometimes picks his feathers and I know its not from stress. Its from boredom. The minute I started bringing him in my office more often, he was content just being there with me. Now that spring is here, its time to move the cages around. I have a naked Blue and Gold that I move further away from the windows during the winter to make sure she does not get a draft. This is more for my comfort than hers since the area is warm.
I belong to a FB group called The Parrot Posse. Its a fund raising group that helps bird rescues. They help many and post their financials and invoices as things are purchased and shipped.
They give heating panels to a lot of the rescues. Have you ever heard about them? I would love to hear your thoughts on them.
Have a wonderful day!