Perches are vitally important to a pet bird because whilst a wild bird can move freely to find a suitable perch, our captive avian companions do not have that luxury. They are totally dependent on us to provide them with an enriching environment that helps to promote good health and mental activity. It is essential that you have to right kind of perches for the species bird that you are keeping.
Why Are Perches Important?
Anytime your bird is not in flight it is usually standing, either on a flat surface or on a perch. This means they are standing almost all the time, as many parrots even perch while sleeping. According to petcha.com, birds’ feet have an interlocking mechanism that is engaged when they crouch so that they can grip onto a perch and relax the rest of their body.
This ability to lock their feet into perching position can cause problems if the bird is constantly using a perch of the same diameter. Pressure points and pressure sores will develop and lead to foot infections. Bumblefoot is the generic term used for foot infections in birds, and sometimes the infection can penetrate to the bone. Needless to say, this will be painful for your bird and should be avoided at all costs.
Birds use their perches for a variety of reasons: to climb on, clean their beaks, rub their bodies, chew, and observe their environment. Perches made of different materials may serve various purposes for your pet. In general, it is a good idea to have a variety of perches in your bird’s enclosure. You want perches of different materials as well as of various diameters. This way your bird will get the exercise it needs and a choice of perches to use at any given time. The addition of one perch that looks too wide for your bird’s foot will give it a workout like it would get in nature.
Placement of Perches
The way you place the perches inside your bird’s cage or enclosure is important. The species of bird, the size of the enclosure, and whether the bird is flighted or not will all be determining factors into how best to position the perches so your bird gets the maximum benefit from them. Small, flighted birds such as finches or canaries will be more comfortable with a different perch arrangement than an African Grey with clipped wings.
There are some general guidelines to follow in perch placement, according to avianenrichment.com these include:
- Make sure the cage is not crowded with too many perches.
- Place perches on multiple levels to encourage climbing.
- Place a natural wood or rope perch high in the cage for sleeping and observing.
- No perches directly over water or food dishes.
- Use a hard perch near food dishes to be used as a beak cleaner.
See the video below for a detailed explanation on choosing the right perch for your bird.
Types of Perches Available
Now that you are aware of the importance of your bird’s perches and have an idea of how you will be placing them in the cage, let’s take a closer look at some different types of perches. We will look at a general type of perch and give a clickable, specific example of each one.
Wooden perches are the best material because they are what your bird would be using in nature. Wood perches can be used for rubbing and chewing in addition to standing, and come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Two distinct type of wood perches are:
Perches made of manzanita wood are very popular for owners of smaller birds. They are made of durable wood and the foot long, multi-branch perch we are using as an example has branches of varying lengths and diameters. It includes the hardware required to attach to your bird’s cage and will be a welcome addition to their perching options.
Natural wood perches are another option for your pet bird. This set of 5 perches are all 4 inches (10 cm) long and about 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) in diameter. AS with all natural wooden perches, they should be thoroughly cleaned before use in your bird’s cage to ensure that no insects or mold that could harm your pet is present. Placed strategically around your bird’s cage, these perches will give it the opportunity to climb to different vantage points throughout the day.
Stand perches are meant for use when your bird is out of its cage. They can be placed anywhere in your home to allow you to interact with your bird, or for your bird to get a different view of things for a while. Our example perch is the Penn Plax Bird Life Natural Tree Perch, which is available in a small, medium, and large model to suit your species of bird.
The stand has three perches for climbing and variation. It is lightweight and easily transportable from room to room, and has a wide base for stability and to control messes. Two stainless steel cups are included to be used as food or water bowls to keep your bird happy while it is out of its cage.
Here is a way to make use of some of that corner space in your bird’s cage. This corner perch by Yosoo creates a small, semi-circular platform in the corner of your bird’s cage. It offers a change of pace as it is a flat surface, and can be used for your bird to take a rest during the day. The perch is constructed of wood and include three screws to securely attach it to the cage.
Heated perches can be useful as a way to help your bird stay warm (especially at night). The addition of one to your bird’s enclosure gives it a place to go if it is feeling a little too cold. The K&H Heated Bird Perch is constructed of bite and scratch resistant plastic and is designed with varying diameters to promote foot health. It is controlled by a thermostat and the temperature gradually increases over the length of the perch letting your bird find just the right spot.
We group these perches together because they are all basically of a similar design that is made to be used either on a window or in a shower. Care needs to be taken with a window perch as your bird can be startled and injured by the pane of glass if it does not realize it is there. Shower perches are a great addition to the parrot household and many parrots love bathing in this manner.
The shower perch by Super Bird Creations is a 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) diameter and is designed for medium to large birds. It attaches to your shower wall with three heavy duty suction cups. It is durably constructed and folds flat against the wall when not in use. A great way to get your bird in the shower!
Rope perches offer your birds an alternative to hard surfaces when deciding where to perch. They are comfortable and will often be a good choice for a sleeping perch. Rope perches also come in many shapes and sizes, as our example rope perch from Petsvv demonstrates. This perch doubles as a toy as your bird can climb and spin on it. The bendable internal wire lets you reshape it to your liking and it has a bell at the end for your birds to enjoy.
As you can see there is a lot more to bird perches than the two same-sized perches that usually are included with parrot starter kits and cages. Provide your pet with a variety of perches and they will be both healthier and happier.