By Diane Burroughs
Regardless of how fancy your bird’s cage is and how nutritious his diet, if you don’t provide a comfortable perch, or perches, to his domain, you are neglecting one of the most important aspects of proper parrot care. Bird Freet
What To Look For In A Bird Perch
Look at an appropriate bird perch like you would a comfortable pair of running shoes. Would you attempt to jog around your neighborhood–let alone run a marathon–in a pair of shoes that didn’t fit? Of course not. Regardless of whether the shoes are too large or too small, you would be certain to end your run with painful, tired feet as well as raw areas and blisters.
The same situation occurs with your bird–although it may take longer for the bird to show evidence of a bad fit. A perch of inappropriate diameter will damage the soles of his feet. Red, worn areas will develop on your parrot’s feet much like they develop on yours. In fact, the next time you have your avian buddy out for some fun, examine his feet. You may be surprised to see an area–or areas–that look pink and irritated compared to the rest of the bird’s soles. You can bet these areas are tender–as well as painfully cramped.
The reason for this discomfort is improper perch diameter. A perch that is perfect for an African grey will not work for a macaw and vice versa. The ideal diameter is a perch that will allow a bird to grip in a manner that its feet encompass approximately 3/4 of the perch surface, with nail tips touching the perch surface. If the bird can wrap all of his toes around the perch with room to spare, the perch is too small. If the bird cannot get a firm grip and the toes do not reach the underside of the perch, it is too large.
Perches Are Available In A Variety Of Materials
Regardless of the material the perch is made of, proper diameter is the most important consideration. Some of the best perches have a slight change in diameter depending on where the bird stands. Many natural wood perches are this way naturally, while other woods perches have been intentionally manufactured this way.
The subtle variance in diameter allows the bird to flex his toes and exercise his feet. Think of the running shoes comparison again. After a long run, doesn’t it feel good to take those shoes off and wiggle your toes? Movement of the toes and flexing of the foot muscles is a very soothing sensation when toes have been in the same position for a very long time.
So, whether a perch is wood, concrete, PVC or other synthetic material, shop for them carefully and provide the best choice possible. Your bird uses his feet for just about everything he does: climbing, eating, perching, as well as the occasional scratch to his head, like a dog sometimes uses his hind feet. Since they serve as both feet and hands, comfort is critical. You bird will appreciate it. If he could, he would thank you.
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