Romez, a double yellow-headed Amazon parrot, would not be pacified. “Ma-a-a-a! Ma-a-a-a!” he screamed. Romez had recently been re-homed and was temporarily housed in his travel cage. It had a solid plastic top, and he was frustrated in his attempts to enjoy his favorite pastime: hanging upside down from the top of his cage. There were no bars to grip, only the smooth, impervious top, and he was one angry bird!
Another Amazon, Cracker, resembled an enraged pine cone when she was forced to spend some time in a long, low cage while her family was in the process of moving to a new home. Bogart, a red-lored Amazon, shrank in fear from a black-painted cage and Kelly, an orange-winged Amazon, screeched loudly and climbed frantically in circles. What’s going on here? It’s “cage rage!”
War On Cages — Or Not?
What if your bird is at war with her cage? Often, it’s not the cage at all. Before you discard the cage, take a good look at the surrounding area. Get down on your bird’s perch-level and take a look around. What do you see?
Is there a balloon or kite caught up in overhead wires across the street? Does your neighbor have a new windsock in the yard? Have you installed new pictures or furniture in your home?
In Kelly’s case, a new table placed in her line of vision was causing the neurotic climbing. If your bird is having a similar problem, removing the offending objects, lowering the shades or moving the cage can remedy such issues.
Even tame, domestically bred pet birds have a primal need for protective shelter. A young Senegal parrot was exhibiting signs of stress when she chafed herself bald on the top bars of her cage. It wasn’t the cage that upset her — it was the lack of a place to hide inside the cage. Her owner covered about a quarter of the cage with a dark-colored cloth and the little parrot quickly settled down.
Tips To Deal With “Cage Rage”
Cage Corner: Where is the cage located? If it’s exposed on all sides, birds will feel vulnerable. Provide your bird with a sense of security by locating the cage against a wall or near a corner of the room.
Security First! Your bird sees things you might miss. Skylights or other large expanses of glass may provide a view of circling hawks or other predators. Move the cage to a more sheltered location, adjust window shades or use a cover on part of the cage to provide a hiding place. Even the placement of toys and accessories can help, as they can provide a visual barrier to the outside world.
Location, Location, Location: There are safety considerations as well. The kitchen is not a recommended location for birds because of temperature fluctuations and cooking fumes. Locate cages and playstands away from doors that will be opened frequently to reduce risk of your bird escaping. The angle of the sun changes with the seasons. Is hot sunlight flooding into the cage? Make sure your bird has access to shade. Are cold drafts coming from the window sash? Improve the insulation, add heavy drapes or relocate the cage for the winter. During warm months, locate your pet’s cage and stand away from windows that will allow barbecue or fire pit smoke inside.
High Or Low? Just like their wild counterparts, pet birds feel safer when they’ve got a lofty perch. At low elevations, household birds are easy prey for other family pets and children, and they may feel quite vulnerable in low cages. If your pet exhibits signs of stress (e.g., pacing, rocking, constant climbing or other repetitive behavior), try raising her cage a little higher. Conversely, when attempting to mellow a very dominant bird, placing her cage lower than usual may help with the training process.
Give Your Bird Time: Birds like familiar things. The aforementioned red-lored Amazon, Bogart, had been housed in a white cage for years. When an attempt was made to move him into a black one, he rebelled. Many birds are so observant they’ll notice when you change your nail polish! If your bird’s new cage is a different color than her present one, place her where she can see the cage for several days before attempting to move her inside. Install some familiar playthings inside the new bird home, and allow your bird to explore it, inside and out, before move-in day.
Think Like A Bird: Are perches convenient to feeders? Is there a swing or high perch for nighttime roosting? Comfort and security are important. Is there a mirror or other shiny object within sight of the cage? Your bird may be disturbed by changing reflections and flashes of light. Do passing cars cause shadow and light interplay in the room at night?
Consider using blackout shades or relocate your bird to a room not affected by traffic. A nightlight will help your bird find her way back onto the perch in the event of a “night fright.” Can your bird indulge in her favorite activities inside the cage?
When Romez was unable to hang upside down from cage bars, he was miserable. Once he was placed in a cage with bars across the top, peace and tranquility were restored. Yes, you can change “cage rage” to “cage contentment!”
Did you like this article? Then check out these: