Part IV: Cages And Cage Wire By Doug Bedwell

Cage sizes and designs are often as varied as the individuals who construct or purchase them. There is no universal agreement on the “correct” size cage for breeding lovebirds. The notion of “Larger is Better” is certainly correct, although there is much dispute over how huge is great enough. As previously said, my expertise is with indoor aviaries in the American Midwest. Larger cages may obviously be accommodated in an outdoor aviary, and in most cases, available space will set some constraints on cage size and design. More information about this subject may be found in the page on The Aviary.

My birds are not colony bred. I set up my caging such that each breeding pair had its own cage. This technique has several benefits. For one thing, there is no doubt about the paternity of the chicks produced. This is significant for a number of reasons. It is simpler for me to keep track of which chicks have which recessive mutations when I am dealing with color mutations. I can also minimize unnecessary inbreeding while breeding repeated generations. Another benefit of the one couple per cage approach is that it decreases the possibility of aviary violence. Tempestuous birds cannot fight each other if they are kept in separate cages.

The downside of the one couple per cage arrangement is that it needs more space, more cages, and more time to maintain than a colony scenario. Nonetheless, I believe that the benefits of a one pair per cage arrangement outweigh the drawbacks.

My breeding cages are 30″ long, 14″ high, and 14″ deep. On the front, I have two six-inch square doors. On the inside of one door, a water dish hangs, and on the other, a seed cup. Having the cups on the doors has two benefits. First, it simplifies maintenance since I seldom have to reach inside the cage. Second, by hanging the dishes in the entrance, I can make it (almost) impossible for a feisty bird to take them down and empty the contents.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “30 inches long? “Wow, that’s TINY!” While some of you may be thinking, “30 inches long? That is MASSIVE!” All I can say is that this size cage has worked well for me. I know breeders who keep their birds outside in 6-foot-long cages, and others who use breeding cages half the size of mine. A 30″ cage is ideal for an indoor aviary since it is reasonable in size while yet allowing the birds to FLY from one end to the other. The birds have plenty of perches and toys to climb on and around, but lovebirds are fantastic flyers, and having adequate room to fly is advantageous to their health in both the short and long term, in my opinion.

If you want to create your own cages, you must first get appropriate wire. My cages are made of 1″x1/2″ steel wire mesh. According to some literature, 1″x1″ wire mesh is “perfect” for lovebirds. They are not to be trusted. Although a lovebird’s head can fit through a 1″ square hole, its body cannot. In such circumstance, if a bird gets frightened and attempts to flee, it may easily break its own neck in the wire. Birds may potentially get entangled in the wire or injure themselves when attempting to escape via a little too narrow aperture. A lovebird may easily gravely harm or kill itself if the cagewire is too widely separated.

Another little-known threat to many birds is the zinc coating used to galvanize most wire mesh. The majority of wire mesh is galvanized by “dipping” it into molten zinc. This method is known as “galvanized after welding” because the wire is first welded into a mesh before being galvanized. This applies a thin layer of zinc to the whole mesh, seams and all. This kind of wire is hazardous to birds because the zinc coating on the steel wire may fracture and flake off, allowing the birds to consume it. A bird that chews on its cage wire has the potential to consume a deadly quantity of zinc in a relatively short period of time.

The wire mesh used in the construction of breeding cages should be “galvanized before welded.” Individual steel wires of this wire are electroplated with zinc before being welded together. This results in a microscopically thin coating of protecting zinc remaining on the wire. This coating is truly attached to the steel, so it will not flake off like dip galvanizing and will not harm birds.

Inspect the sort of wire you’re getting if you’re buying it for birds. It’s galvanized before welded wire if you can see where the joints in the mesh were welded. If you can’t see the seams or welds, you’re dealing with dip galvanized wire, which should be avoided.

If you truly want to cut down on the time you spend on daily cleaning and feeding, and money isn’t an issue, buying cages is certainly the way to go. Most pet shop cages are suitable for keeping birds as pets, but they are not suitable for breeding. Breeder cages come in a range of sizes, may be stacked and fastened together to form big racks, and are usually extendable, allowing you to join two or more small cages together to form a larger cage. In addition, unlike other pet cages, they will be built to accommodate a nestbox.

A variety of aviary vendors offer high-quality breeder cages for purchase via mail. Many of the merchants have advertisements in the main bird publications. Price, size, and quality all vary greatly, so browse around. I would suggest that you look for cages that are at least 24″ long and 12″ square, and preferably bigger. Although bigger cages are more costly, you will be rewarded with stronger and happy birds.

In addition to your breeding cages, you’ll need some bigger “flying cages” to hold groups of birds who aren’t breeding. I often put youngsters together since they get along better than adult birds. I am aware of breeders that separate their flights by gender, which may lessen the possibility of fighting. I don’t sex all of my birds; instead, I’ll place a bunch of them in a flight and allow their behavior tell me which are hens and which are cocks. In any case, a bigger flight will provide your non-breeding birds with greater flying space and a chance for more social engagement than a breeder cage. I have numerous flying cages in various sizes, but 30″x30″x24″ is probably the most common. Again, some breeders may have considerably bigger cages than this, while others will have much smaller cages or none at all. Flight cages, I’ve discovered, are a simple method to house and care for a greater number of birds, particularly youngsters.

“Thus, while looking for a bird cage, take your time. Look around your local pet shop or online for bird cages.”

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