How to choose the right bird cage for your parrot

So you’ve decided to add a bird to your family! Congratulations! Birds make great pets and companions and can even help with symptoms of depression

Depending on the bird you bring home, you’ll want to provide her a cage that is appropriate for her size, feeding and activity needs. 

Below is a quick overview of things you’ll want to consider when choosing the best cage for your feathery family member.

You might think the size of the actual cage is the most important aspect, but it’s not. While it is very important you have a cage big enough for your bird to move around in freely and have plenty of toys, there’s one thing more important than that and that is safety! That leads us to our first item of consideration:

Bar Spacing

Bar spacing is just that: the space between the bars of the cage.  Bar spacing generally ranges from 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches in increments of 1/8 inch. Most bird cages will have bar spacing sizes of 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, and 1 inch. 

So how do you know the proper bar spacing for your bird? Bar spacing should be sized in a way that doesn’t allow escape and prevents injuries but also promotes physical and developmental activity like climbing, hopping and playing.

Still unsure what the right bar spacing for your bird is? Here’s a guide by species that will help make it easier to determine:


Size

Examples of Species

Min Bar Spacing

Max Bar Spacing

Small birds

Budgies (Parakeets), Canaries, Doves, Finches, Parrotlets

1/4”

½”

Small-medium birds

Cockatiels, Lovebirds

½”

⅝”

Medium birds

Caiques, Conures, Jardines, Lories, Senegals

⅝”

¾”

Large birds

African Greys, Amazons, Severe and Hahn's Macaws

¾”

1”

Extra large birds

Large Cockatoos and Macaws

1”

1.5”


Cage Size

Obviously you want your bird to have ample cage space. And the more time your bird spends in her cage, the larger you’ll want it to be. If you have your bird out of its cage most of the day, the minimum sizes below should be sufficient. But if you are gone for long periods and your bird only gets out for an hour or two, you may want to consider a cage where she has room to fly a bit.

You’ll also need to take into consideration how many toys you’ll have in her cage. Don’t over stuff it so she can’t move around easily. A cage too small or too cramped with toys could result in health or behavioral issues. 

Size

Examples of Species

Min

Cage Size

Small birds

Budgies (Parakeets), Canaries, Doves, Finches, Parrotlets

18” x 18”

Small-medium birds

Cockatiels, Lovebirds

20” x 20”

Medium birds

Caiques, Conures, Jardines, Lories, Senegals

24” x 24”

Large birds

African Greys, Amazons, Severe and Hahn's Macaws

32 x 24”

Extra large birds

Large Cockatoos and Macaws

36” x 24”


Remember, these are minimum sizes for cages for each sized bird. If you have more than one bird, you will want a bigger cage. And if your bird needs to stay in a cage a lot, you may consider a flight cage, aviary, breeder cage or corner cage to extend the space your feathered friend has to fly and move about freely. 

Cage Style

There are a few things to consider when it comes to style. One is material. There are two basic types: stainless steel and powder coated. Powder coated options cost quite a bit less and have multiple colors to choose from. They tend to be a good option for a first-time bird owner. Stainless steel cages, however, cost more but last far longer, are easier to clean and are considered to be healthier for your bird especially over an older model powder coated cage. 

Over time a powder coated cage can begin to chip and fragments will come loose making the cage less easy to clean and could cause harm if your bird ingests the coating. While powder coating has improved dramatically in the past several years, if you have the budget for it, we do recommend stainless steel cages. Don’t worry - they are worth the money as it will be the last cage you ever have to buy! 

You might also consider the top of the cage - do you want to play top cage or a dome top cage? Both offer a place for your parrot to play but a play top might offer more versatility in activities as well as the option to change out toys and offer a feeding area.  This is great for birds who spend a vast majority of time outside their cages.

Bells and whistles - literally!

It’s not uncommon for birds to enjoy toys that might have a bell on them. Hanging rope bird toys are a classic example. And while they can’t blow a whistle, a happy bird will often whistle on his own. With all the toys to choose from, find the one (or several) your bird loves to play with. You can experiment with hanging toys, foraging toys, perches with toys, etc. Again, many cages have a play top but if yours doesn’t, it’s important you provide a separate bird play stand area and a few perches outside the cage so your bird can get the exercise and development she needs to stay happy and healthy. 

What you’re purchasing isn’t a cage to keep your bird locked up in all the time. Rather it’s a habitat - or really its home - your bird will frequent when it’s time to sleep or you need to be away for enough time that you don’t feel it safe to leave your bird out and about. So, just like you’d buy your pup the right size, cushion, comfort and style of dog bed, you also want to provide your feathered friend with a home they’ll want to return to for their own comfort.