Once you have the cage, what do you put in it?
A cage isn't home until it is filled with the items necessary to feed and water your birds. You will want extra dishes and drinkers, along with treat cups in multiple sizes to hold items you may need to feed throughout the year, depending on the bird's cycle.
Where to Buy
You can find bird cages at any pet store or pet supply. However, the cages you'll find are usually inappropriate for Gouldian finches. Many stores now offer finch cages with the correct bar spacing, but have fancy roofs and too small dimensions. Don't fall for these pretty cages. The fancy roofs give the birds too many options for injuring themselves. The sizes are much too small, and do not allow for free flight.
There are many Internet sites with the right type of cage, at the right price. Just be sure to add in the cost of shipping to see if it will be worthwhile. It usually ends up that the cage may be reasonably or inexpensively priced, but the shipping charges make the final cost higher than if you'd gone to a store near your home.
If you live in the Southeast Michigan area, a great place to find and purchase the perfect cage, or ANY kind of pet supply, is K9 Specialties. These folks make it their business to make owning a pet affordable! The building is setup along the lines of a warehouse. BUT, they have a room dedicated exclusively to birds.
What to Buy
Finch cages have vertical bars. The bar spacing should be no more than 1/2" to avoid entanglement or escapes. If the cage bars are spaced too wide, the bird may be able to escape leaving it open to a world of dangers!
A hookbill cage will have horizontal bars because these birds, such as parakeets, like to hang from the cage bars. They literally hook their bill over the bar and climb! Finches don't require this type of bar. AND most watering devices and other cage accessoriesare made to fit through vertical bars! Look around your nearest pet supply store, you'll see what I mean!
Another great place to find cages is The Country Roost, an online store. They carry a wide range of cages, and most orders will include shipping. We are pleased to partner with them as a reliable and trustworthy cage source for our clients.
There are many thoughts and ideas on the proper cage size for finches. In my humble opinion, a larger cage is always better. I recommend a rectangular cage with NO peaked roofs or funny outcroppings - these are all danger zones where a finch could easily get injured. A pair of Gouldians will thrive in a cage that is 30" x 18" x 18", but will do even better in a longer cage. I also recommend a cage with vertical bars, NOT horizontal. Most finch cage accessories are made to fit vertical bars. Horizontal bars are typically found on hookbill cages - hookbills climb, and use their beaks on those horizontal bars to pull themselves up. A cage with a combination of both vertical and horizontal bars is often fine as long as the accessories may be attached in such a manner to allow you to prevent droppings from falling into the food or water dishes.
If you plan on breeding them, keep in mind that the average clutch is 4 to 6 eggs. Those eggs eventually hatch and turn into fledglings. When those babies leave the nest, the cage immediately shrinks! Imagine cramming 8 birds into a 24" wide cage! They struggle with their parents for roosting space and have a difficult time learning to fly because they can't move around freely! They need MUCH more space to build their flight muscles and thrive. Sure, they'll eventually leave the nest, but not for about 45 to 50 days! They will have to be feeding themselves and flying well before you can confidently move them away from their parents.
If you only have one bird, a 24" wide cage is fine, but remember the rule - more horizontal space - vertical space is not as important...birds don't fly straight up! Vertical cages are made for hookbills who like to climb UP. If the bird is unable to literally fly from perch to perch, the cage is too small. They should be able to flap their wings and forced to fly to get from perch to perch.
Keep in mind...as you add perches, nest boxes, water bottles, food dishes and/or greenery, the cage gets smaller and smaller. What I'm trying to say is that as you add the required accessories, the flight space of your bird begins to diminish quickly! Remember this when you purchase a cage.
When my birds aren't breeding, they are moved to 60"l x 18"d x 38"h (living space) flight cages during the off season. If you have the space, a larger cage is much appreciated by the birds and gives them room for the exercise they require to stay healthy!
Check the Housing and Breeding links for more information!
A word about toys...
It never ceases to amaze me how humans always love to project their own "feelings" onto their pets. One of my biggest pet peeve projections is the "feeling" that finches will be bored if they don't have something to keep them occupied. News flash...finches are their own self entertainment. They do not need toys. Toys merely clutter the cage and use up valuable flying space. They are also often a health hazard or entanglement danger for your birds.
I laugh and shake my head every time I read someone telling their own readers that finches "need" swings or toys. These folks actually believe their own myths! Then again, there is so much BAD information out there that it doesn't surprise me one bit. The clueless love to perpetuate myths.
However, in an effort to protect as many birds as possible, I will concede with the following warning - if you choose to put toys in their cage, be certain they are lead and zinc free (such as bell clappers). Make sure no parts of the toy hang loose to cause entanglement issues. If you feel they still need toys, give them natural fruit branches or palm fronds! They will be kept busy for hours!
That's all I have to say about that!
Cage type and size are important to the health and well being of your birds. If the cage you choose is too small, the birds may not be able to exercise properly, potentially causing obesity and/or other health issues. It may even become obvious to you after watching your birds for a while that the cage you've purchased really IS too small! If they're unable to fly from one perch to another, you would be right! Save yourself the time and effort now and get the right sized cage!
How to Buy
You can purchase a cage over the Internet from a variety of different websites (just be sure they have a secure ordering process - https:// will show up in front of your URL). Shop around! There are many cage supply stores online, and most have competitive pricing. Take into account the price if it includes shipping. Cages are heavy. If the price is similar or slightly higher but includes shipping, chances are it's actually a better deal.
I have included several great website links on my Valuable Links page! You can purchase a cage from your local pet supply - just keep in mind the dimensions and bar spacing requirements...
BUT...NEVER, NEVER, NEVER PURCHASE A USED CAGE! I tell my clients this all the time, but failed to heed my own advice once and paid for it with the lives of my birds, hundreds of dollars worth of equipment, and hours of wasted time. Read more about the terrible mistake I made HERE.
CAGE TYPE & SIZE
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.