Tails Blog

Your Parrot and Happy Healthy Feet

Steve Coppell - Saturday, October 30, 2010

Perches are a necessity, not an accessory, for pet birds. They are devices for standing on, grooming tools for their nails and beak, exercise equipment for them to climb, hop and fly from, and a vantage point from which to view the world. Provide your bird with a number of perches that vary in size and texture to prevent boredom, but also because it is unhealthy for its feet to be in the same position for lenthy periods of time. Perches with a rigid or slightly uneven surface are preferable so that your bird is not continually putting pressure on the same part of the foot. Hard smooth surfaces can lead to foot problems such as poor blood circulation, sores, arthritis and atrophy, plus your bird may have difficulty balancing on them.

The best perching material for birds are natural branches. These mimic what they would use in the wild, give them something to chew on and help wear down their toe nails. Manuka (tea tree) branches are recommended. Which are available in a range of thicknesses, so they are ideal for a variety of birds from finches to macaws. Pine, willow, apple and orange tree branches are also suitable for avian perches.
Be careful not to use branches that have been painted, polished or treated with pesticides, and avoid those with lichen or excessive sap. Dont use avocado branches these are poisenous to your bird!
Before you put the branches in your cage, wash them in water with a brush, then heat them in an oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees celcius to kill any bugs.

If you dont use natural branches for their perch or you want to provide an alternative perching surface, rope perches are another option.

No Nos
Some perches that have been popular in the past are now known to be detrimental to your birds health. Most bird cages come with dowel perches, but these arent recommended. They can cause very sore feet because of the smoothness of the wood. Sandpaper and grit covers, and plastic perches are a big no no too. Sandpaper is rough and can scratch your birds feet leading to infections, while plastic perches are slippery so your bird may find it hard to grip them.

Once you have the perches for your bird, you will need to think about their placement in the cage. Arrange them on different levels, but not directly over your birds food or water bowl. Dont clutter the cage with too many perches. Leave enough space for your bird to strech its wings, ensuring that its tail cannot touch the sides while its sitting on them.

Size Wize
Size is of critical importance when choosing perches. Your bird should not be able to completely encircle its feet around the perch, but should be able to wrap them about three quaters of the way around it.

Finally, unless you have finches, dont forget that most pet birds love to perch on you! They are social and intelligent animals that love to interact with their owners. By furnishing its cage appropriately and spending some time with your bird outside of its cage each day , it will not only have healthy feet, but will also be a happy bird!