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Safety of Birds in Confinement Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 12th, 2019


Despite the fact that the appearance of natural structures change, reality will always remains (Honour & Fleming, 2005). In order to create pure reality, it is imperative to reduce natural forms to constant elements of form.

Birds, when properly taken care of, will seldom be attacked with any disease. A good practice, therefore, is to ensure that the birds are punctually fed, kept in a healthy and clean environment, and placed in safe, comfortable cages. Ordinarily, if a bird gets sick, it is by neglect of the above simple precautions.

This paper provides a discussion about the bird cage. Most cage birds shed their feathers yearly, in the month of September and October, and lasting, with a healthy bird, from two to four weeks (Willett, 2006). Although the process of cage birds shedding feathers is a natural one, it is generally accompanied with disease.

They must at this time, be particularly taken care of. With bare feathers, they are more liable to be affected by cold. They should, therefore, be kept in a rather warmer place than usual. Above all, they should be protected from a draught of air (Perry, 2007). A good deal of room to fly about, for example, allows them to drop their feathers more easily.

A great trouble to birds in confinement, are insects such as small reddish lice which often cause the death of cage birds. They are generally produced by uncleanness, and will, particularly in wooden cage, increase very fast. The insects hide themselves during the day in crevices and creep out at night, crawl up to the birds, and torment them mercilessly.

They suck blood out of them and prevent them from getting rest the whole night. The bird thus tormented, appears dull and heavy during the day, ceases singing, and if relief is not given to them, the unfortunate end result is death. It is for this reason and many others that bird owners must pay attention to the kind of cage to be used by their birds.

Environmental Considerations

One of the most important owner influences on a bird’s health is its environment. An environment that promotes psychological well being leads to a happy, healthy, and reproductively active bird. For small cage birds, a large cage or aviary will allow for flight and space needed to reduce territorial stress that is often associated with common species maintained in captivity (Murillo, 2011).

Overcrowding leads to injury and stress. Aviary design is often based on an individual’s imagination and monetary investment. Aviaries can be small areas within a house or large outdoors flights. Large free flight aviaries require plants for hiding, perception of safety, and building of nests. Maintenance is often required with free flight aviaries because small birds have a habit of pulling the leaves off the plants and trees within the enclosure.

As with the aviaries, rodent, and vermin control is very important. Rodents and insects are drawn to the food debris produced by pet birds. Bird food not stored properly is also a magnet for rodents and insects. In the southeastern United States, fire ants, drawn to an aviary by spilled food, are potential deadly pests to young chicks.

Roaches found in many aviaries and houses, are the intermediate host for rodents. In general, food debris draw pests and nutritional composition of bird food degrades when exposed to the environment, especially heat (Mitchell, 2009). Storage of bird food is important in order to maintain nutritional integrity and prevent the introduction of pest. People that establish large outdoor aviaries may desire individual flights that are occupied by a single pair of birds.

The paired flight cages are set up in most cases for breeding purposes. Food and environment have an effect on the success of breeding pairs producing offspring. Knowledge by the bird owner is essential on what is needed to give the pair the best opportunity for successful reproductive activity by that particular species. Information on nest box size is important, as is the material from which the nest box is made.

All nest boxes should have an observation door so that owners can view the interior with minimal disturbance to the bird (Lubman, 1999). It is important for bird owners to view the inside of the inside of the nest box for laying activity and egg production. Once the eggs hatch, proper development of the babies should be monitored and the babies pulled if treatment is needed or if hand feeding is required. Some birds like a wooden nest box in an elongated shape with the hole near the top.

Some species, such as macaws and cockatoos, modify their next boxes by chewing wood and eventually stimulates reproductive activity. If the breeding pair is too destructive to the nest box, material such as sheet metal can be used to build the structure. It is important to make sure that smooth slick surfaces on nest box bottoms are lined with wood chips to ensure proper positioning of legs during the rapid skeletal growth of the young birds.

Slick nest box bottoms lead to splay legged birds and other developmental abnormalities that affect the joints and long bones of the legs. Hard wood chips are recommended for lining the bottom of the breeding box because they do not produce the volatile oils associated with soft woods such as cedar and pine. The volatile compounds cause irritation to respiratory system and exposed dermis of both parents and baby birds.

For species in which there may be cage-mate trauma or death, two T nest boxes allow for the mate to escape if being attacked. Other recommendations to prevent cage-mate trauma include trimming the aggressive mate’s wings so that the bird being attacked has better flight capabilities (Grabbe, 2003).

Custom made, outdoor flights for aviaries should be made out of wire produced especially for that purpose. Custom made indoor cages can be painted with non toxic paint, but owners should be aware that over time the bird will probably pick at the paint, affecting the overall look of the enclosure.

The most common cage material for outside cages is galvanized caging wire that is produced in sheets and cut to form the appropriate cage size for the bird or birds to be housed. The cut wire sections are then held together using binders called J-clips. This galvanized cage wire may lead to zinc toxics through birds scraping the wire with the beak and ingesting the galvanized pieces. The galvanized protective coating can also be leached into water droplets that form on the wire and are the licked off by the birds.

To reduce the amount of excess galvanized coating in new wire, washing with vinegar and abrading the cleaned material with a wire brush are recommended. There are many different types of cages available commercially for the bird that is to be housed inside, with the main options being metallic bars and acrylic.

Stainless steel cages are of the highest quality cage material that can be used for companion bird enclosures. Stainless steel is usually not painted and does not rust (Grabbe, 2003). The most common cage material used for indoor enclosures is powder coated steel. These powder coated cages are available in many colors and sizes.

Smaller cages may be nickel or brass plated wire that can become dull after the clear coat finish ages or is disturbed by the birds. It is imperative that all bird cages have appropriate space between the cage bars to prevent the animals from getting their head stuck between the bars.

There are many specialty cages using a variety of material for cage bars. Research is required to make sure that the size and material are suitable for the bird being housed. This also applies to cage furniture, perches, and bowls used for food and water. Cages and aviaries that contain small birds must be easy to clean and easy for the owner to change the food and water. Perches can be made out of hard wood or formed plastic.

Appropriate perch material is recommended to prevent ingestion of foreign bodies leading to gastrointestinal disease. A natural hard wood such as oak, hickory, or maple perch offers various diameters for birds to grasp, exercise their feet, and chew. They are also inexpensive and can be readily replaced.

Any wood that is gathered from a tree for perch material should be cleansed and disinfected before it is placed in the cage. Toys and cage furniture are usually marketed for specifically sized birds. Under no circumstances should one place toys manufactured for smaller birds in a cage with large species.

Budgie toys, for example, should not be placed in an Amazon parrot’s cage. The large bird will break the toy and may ingest the parts, initiating gastrointestinal disease. It is advisable to always purchase toys and cage furniture that are size appropriate and manufactured as such for that specific pet bird.

For water, a bottle with a stainless steel sipper tube is best for birds. This type of watering system allows for easy access for refilling and cleaning and also prevents the bird from defecating in its water supply (Herwitz & Kelly, 2007). If a water bottle with a sipper tube is not used, there are ceramic water receptacles that attach to the side of a cage with a hole in the side. This design also reduces defecation into the water receptacle.

Food dishes containing pelleted food, seed, fruit, and vegetables should be easy to remove, difficult for the bird to turn over, and easy to clean and disinfect. Stainless steel is the material of choice for food dishes, but thick ceramic bowls are also acceptable. Heavy plastic is appropriate for small bird bowls and is the food and water receptacle material of choice for passerine species.

Food and water should be changed daily, and depending on the bird, the cage should be cleaned every 2 to 3 days. There are many different cage substrates use to line the bottom of pet bird cages. The cage substrate of choice is newspaper because it allows the owner to see the bird’s stools for evaluation, and it is inexpensive and readily available.

Newspaper also becomes dirty, which is apparent to the owner, indicating a need to clean the cage. If the other cage substrates such as crushed corn cob, ground walnut shell, and shredded paper are used, it is difficult to determine how dirty a cage may be. These substrates can hide the extent of fecal and urine buildup, often prolonging the perception a clean cage.

The best disinfectant for cleaning bowls, toys, and cage furniture is dilute sodium hypochlorite, or house hold bleach. It should always be remembered that dirt can not be disinfected. To effectively disinfect a cage or material within a cage, organic material must first be removed from all surfaces. After the organic material has been removed, the action of the disinfectant can be effective in cleaning the surface to which it has been applied.

Lighting is important for canaries, because their molting and breeding is directly correlated to the length of day light to which they are exposed (Honour & Fleming, 2005). During the summer, when day light hours are long, canaries molt and stop singing. When the day light hours are wane, the feathers are in place and the birds sing to attract a mate. Shortening a cocktail’s exposure to day light has been recommended for cessation of egg-laying.

Indoor birds should be exposed to artificial, full spectrum light to enhance breeding activity and vitamin D metabolism and subsequent calcium absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. The bulbs should be placed within 12 inches of the animals, turned on for at least 1 hour every 24 hours, and replaced every 6 months.

Birds prefer to go to sleep at sundown and awake at sunrise. If a bird’s is in a room in which a family watches television and is well lit into the night, a cage cover is recommended. A cage cover is not required for pet birds, but if used, it should be part of the nightly routine and removed early in the morning.

One should remember that birds are much more susceptible to heat than cool weather or drafts within a house. If birds are allowed to acclimatize during the temperate autumnal season, down feathers will grow in under the cover feathers, increasing the animal’s ability to withstand cool weather.

Birds will play in the snow or stay outside of a nest box when temperatures are below freezing if they are properly acclimatized. Birds have a normal body temperature of approximately 1030F and have little ability to dissipate environmental heat. External heat generated within a bird’s environment is considered dangerous, and the animal should be removed as soon as possible.

An acrylic cage with very little ventilation generates elevated temperatures within that space when placed in direct sunlight. If acrylic cages are used, they must be placed away from direct sunlight. Cages should never be placed in a kitchen or in an area that will disturb the bird when it is sleeping. Kitchens are the area in which vapors generated from cooking are emitted, and many are toxic to a bird’s sensitive respiratory system.


Prevention is better than cure. Rather than wait for things to worsen, it pays to be proactive and put in place, measures that will guarantee the safety of birds in confinement. It is generally easier, for example, to guard against harmful insects than to get rid of them once they establish their home in the cage.

Persons purchasing cages should, therefore, be careful to have them perfectly done. In addition, they should keep the cages clean to ensure good health and safety for the birds.


Grabbe, L. L. (2003). Like a Bird in a Cage: The Invasion of Sennacherib in 701 BCE. New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Herwitz, D. & Kelly, M. (2007). Action, Art, History: Engagements with Arthur C. Danto. New York: Columbia University Press.

Honour, H. & Fleming, J. (2005). A World History of Art. Great Britain: Laurence King Publishing.

Lubman, S. B. (1999). Bird in a Cage: Legal Reform in China after Mao. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Mitchell, M. A. & Tully, T. N. (2009). Manual of Exotic Pet Practice. Missouri: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Murillo, S. (2011). The Bird in the Metal Cage. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

Perry, M. L. (2007). Building a Bird Cage: The History and Architecture of Savannah, Georgia’s First Municipal Airport, 1929-1941. Savannah, GA: Armstrong Atlantic State University.

Willett, M. (2006). The Birdcage: A Novel. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

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