Keeping Birds, Exercise and Cages

Useful tips on daily exercise and keeping birds in cages. Flying is a bird’s natural mode of transportation. This is hardly possible in a cage. To make your birds’ lives as pleasant as possible, there’s a ot more to keep in mind than with other pets such as dogs or cats.

Number of birds

Birds should never be kept alone. They feel best in a group, and enjoy the company. Lone birds don’t just cry constantly, but may also pluck out their own feathers or develop illnesses. It’s a myth that lone birds become hand-tame. Together, they are braver, more entertaining and can be left alone for a few hours.

The German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection even came up with a law about keeping parrots in pairs. You need a permit before breeding most bird breeds, so don’t provide nesting boxes if you don’t want to go down this route.

The cage

The most important thing to remember: the cage should be big enough, the bigger the better. Maybe your parents can set up an outdoor aviary, as this is the best option. If you don’t have this option (e.g. if you don’t have a garden), we have some information about cages for you.

The perfect location for a cage

  • At eye level
  • No draft
  • One side to the wall
  • Quiet

Cage/aviary size

  • Depends on the breed
  • You can also easily build one yourself - this option usually looks better and costs less than cages from the pet store, and they’re bigger!

Near the cage

  • No neon (birds see neon as unpleasant flickering)
  • No TV (also an unpleasant flickering)
  • Smoke-free
Interior of the cage

The perfect cage!
Stainless steel cage/aviary
Wide is better than tall
Horizontal bars
Bird bath
Perches made from differently sized twigs
Swings, rings, cotton or hemp ropes
Stainless steel bowls

Not like this!
Round/wide cage (alters orientation/perception)
Zinc-plated cage (can poison birds)
Plastic coating on cage bars (danger of swallowing small nibbled pieces)
Mirror and plastic toys
Too many toys

Exercise outside the cage

Daily exercise should be provided in a bird-proof room:

  • Drapes in front of the windows
  • No gaps between the wall and furniture
  • No poisonous plants in the room
  • No vases or other containers that the birds could fall into
  • Turn off ceiling lights

In the bird-proof room, there should also be a landing and playing area next to the cage in the form of a tree stand. You can easily and cheaply make one yourself with twigs and sticks.

Something to think about

Anyone wishing to get pet birds should consider this: does a bird belong in a cage? Can even the biggest cage be big enough? Isn’t it nicer to watch birds in the wild, where they’re free to fly around as they please? Nobody likes to be cooped up.

More info:
Bird Breeds
Monthly Costs for a Bird
Pet Bird Pros and Cons
Bird Fact Sheets
Budgie Facts

Budgies in a cage Budgies in a cage - Photo: You Touch Pix of EuToch/Shutterstock