Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
So a customer we’ve not seen before comes into the Birdie Boutique seeking bird food for his two African Grey Parrots…….and some advice.
He acquired these two birds. One was hand raised, the other African Grey was wild-caught. The parrots are in cages much too small. They are being fed primarily a bird food diet of seed and they’re making a helluva mess. The mess has gotten so out of hand he now has mice – everywhere!
Recently at some point, while the birds were out of the cage, one of the Greys pull all the wood paneling off one wall in the family room. So far his only solution was to buy a cat to get rid of the mice. Yikes!
Another problem he has is he can’t handle the wild-caught bird without getting bit. Without getting into great detail here we sent him a link to Free Bird Training Videos – Aggressive Biting Birds & What Not To Do from our email on 10/2/2011
We started with the bird food discussion. We recommended Hagen Tropimix for Large Parrots. We didn’t want to aggravate the situation by going directly to pelleted bird food and introducing a new feeding problem. We suggested Hagen Tropimix bird food because the seeds have no shells making it a very clean birdseed mixture.
Next we looked at bird cages. He was surprised to learn the smallest cage we recommend for an African Grey Parrot is 32 x 23 inches. We looked at the Prevue 3152 play-top birdcage because it was the appropriate size. He asked about a divided birdcage to conserve space. Our feelings were that with a “cage wall” as a divider his birds would still be in a position to lose a toe in the middle of the night.
We looked at some other bird cages we had in the birdcage showroom and he felt he had to go home and measure. We recommend laying masking tape on the floor where the birdcage will sit to get a sense of how much space it will take up in your home.
He walked over to a Prevue 3155 Victorian top cage because it almost dwarfs other cages in the birdcage showroom and noticed a phone book hanging inside the cage from a small length of chain. I explained this was one of many cheap or free bird toy solutions we offer on our website.
He admitted that his cages were so small his birds had no bird toys in their bird cages. We agreed this was a problem especially with the wild-caught African Grey. These birds were bored and cranky.
We came up with a plan to try to help him manage these parrots better. We agreed he needed 2 appropriately sized bird cages, Better bird food and bird toys needed to be introduced – for starters. Lastly, I asked him what was in the cages if no bird toys? Each birdcage had a single grooming perch, and that was it – double Yikes. This can cause real problems for a bird’s feet being on this kind of perch all day and night.
Because birds are on their feet 24\7 – they need a variety of perches in their cage, at least 3. This helps ensure the bird’s feet will constantly walk over a range of surfaces. Ever notice a bird can sleep on one foot? Birds have something called the “flexor tendon” running up their legs. This tendon allows a bird’s foot to lock on a perch allowing it to virtual sleep standing up – on one foot, giving the other foot much-needed rest.
The hardwood dowel perch that comes with most bird cages is a start. These are usually placed near the feeding dishes. More importantly, we advocate the use of a soft rope Booda perch located in the upper 1/3 of the birdcage. Birds like to be up high and the softness of the rope is much easier on their feet. They can nibble on the soft rope making them ideally suited for pluckers and they’re washable.
Grooming perches should be low in the cage or ideally inside the cage door (shown below)
We recommend the third perch be a Manzanita perch because of the uneven surfaces making it appropriate to “challenge” the bird’s feet. We sent him home with new Booda perches, Hagen Tropimix, and a list of bird behaviorists. Only time will tell.