THE NATURAL CHOICE: Creative Caging in Home and Backyard


"\VA ether you own one bird or
Wn~:merous pairs of birds, valuable
time and money can be saved by
designing and creating your own
Obviously, the least expensive
option is to build your own cages.
Materials needed include a good quality
flush wire cutters, a power grinder
for sharp edges, a supply of flatJ-clips,
a clip rolling tool and cage wire which
can often be purchased from a quality
hardware store. We find the 1/2" x 1"
and 1" x 1" welded wire (galvanized
after welding), and the 1/2" x 1/2" galvanized
hardware cloth are all easily
cut and ]-clipped and suffice for
nearly all our needs.
These wires, however, are safe to
use only with species whose beak
strength is limited. Psittacines stronger
than medium sized Amazons, Derbyans
or Goffin's Cockatoos require
thicker gauge wire mesh and hardier
clips. As all our breeders are second
generation, domestic, handfed stock,
somewhat larger parrots may be kept
in lighter gauge wire enclosures
because they do not try to escape. In
addition, if a cage is amply filled with
natu ral chewing materials, rocks, toys,
etc., a hookbill will rarely develop a
habit of attacking the wire itself.
It is a good idea before you begin, to
put on a long sleeved shirt and jeans
as working with wire normally produces
lots of scratches!
A logical alternative to building at
home is to purchase ready-made
flights or cages from one of the excellent
cage companies listed in national
bird magazines. They not only offer
several wire choices, but also fabricate
almost a ny custom design you can
So here are our favorite cage styles

for home and garden based upon ease
of construction and specific function:
• The Cylinder Cage
It is a simple matter to fabricate a
round parrot cage by bending a 5' to
8' length of wire into a tube just as it
comes off the roll, and clipping the
ends together. A wire top and bottom
can be attached with patience and
perhaps some galvanized wire twists
at the spots where the round pieces
do not match up well enough to be
]-clipped. We also utilize 3/4" plywood
cut round as a top to protect
birds in the rain. This cage design is
quite useful when hung by a chain in
a backyard tree or under the house
eaves. We use it for doves kept out
year round and as temporary play
cages for inside parrot pets who enjoy
being under the tree in natural
weather. Stuff branches and greenery
into the cage to create an organic
playground for chewing hookbills.
• The Window Cage
One of our favorite concepts, especially
in warmer climes, is a wire cage
constructed to hang on the outside of
the house in front of a window which
can be opened to access the cage. A
typical 4' x 4' metal sliding window
will require a wire cage approximately
5' x 5' built about 24" out from the
house and attached by means of a 2" x
4" frame screwed to the house. A tight
fit will prevent escape. Food and
water is introduced through the window
from inside. These cages are perfect
for kitchen windows or in rooms
where a lot of time is spent since the
parrot is both a part of indoor activity
and in an outside environment at the
same time. An added advantage is that
spilled food and droppings fall
through the wire cage bottom onto the
ground outside. We cultivate a garden
bed below all our window cages to
grow both flowers and the sprouting
seeds from wasted bird mix. In colder
weather, such outside cages may be
kept warmer by introducing a six inch
layer of straw or hay to the bottom of
the cage. Change st raw every few
weeks as it becomes soiled. These
wire cages are popular with pet parrots
who love to sleep outside, but
want to keep an eye on family activities.
A closed window will dampen
the sound of a screaming bird. The
visual delight of a clean window cage
full of new cut foliage and perhaps a

breeding pair of cockatiels or a single
conure is akin to an avian aquarium!
Remember that chewing psittacines
and house construction materials do
not mix. Metal flashing or non-toxic
boards must be used to keep a
destructive bird away from paint, plaster,
insulation, etc. If in doubt, build a
full cage with a small door and hang
the entire cage.