When I first started keeping birds quite some years ago, no-one seemed to give much thought to things like perches. You just broke off some tree branches and stuck them in the cage or aviary or, if you had just a small cage, a couple of lengths of dowel did the trick. It’s a very different ball game now and choosing the right types of perches is a serious business if you really care about the health, happiness and well being of your feathered companions. After all, they spend most of their cage time sitting on a perch.

A lot of thought has been put into providing a wide range of perches of various types, styles and sizes to suit any bird and any cage or aviary. They are also available in a variety of materials, even some that the birds can eat. The most important thing, if you have the space available, is to provide the birds with a variety of things to sit on, play on and chew on. Some birds will like a wooden or wire platform and these are usually made for a corner position..

You should always provide a variety of perch sizes. Birds need to exercise their feet and different sized perches enables them to do this, just like they would do in the wild. Too small a perch will have the bird wrapping his claws around it, while too large a perch can prevent him from getting a good grip. In either case, he’s going to be uncomfortable and you don’t want that. Just like us, the happiest birds are the ones offered freedom of choice.

Another thing to avoid is simply having horizontal perches at either end of the cage or aviary. How boring that must be for the birds. Try to make their home environment as interesting as possible, not only for them but also for you. After all, you got your birds to enjoy and you will get a lot more enjoyment from them if you are able to see them in various situations, rather than just sitting in the same position all the time. A “grape vine” perch, for example, will allow them to show off and have fun.

Perches that help keep birds’ nails trimmed are very popular but the latest and greatest are the “edible perches”. These are made of natural ground calcium with real sea shells and enable the birds to keep their nails trimmed while exercising their feet and, because the birds find them tasty to chew, they also make it easy for beak grooming.

So remember, your birds aren’t able to tell you how they’re feeling or what they want, so they are relying on you to provide them with all their necessities of life and that includes a variety of perches to choose from as the mood takes them.

Noel Williams is interested in everything to do with gardening, outdoor living and wildlife and is passionate about birds.

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