A Suitable Cage Provides Security for a Starling

NOTE: As owners of this website, we have chosen to share our experiences and opinions on these webpages. We present this info "as is", and we shall have no liablility to anyone regarding any circumstance or occurrence related to the starling(s) or other birds in their care. It is each starling owner's responsibility to make the best choices for the diet, safety, health, care and wellbeing of his or her own starling.

A "Flight Cage" is Best
Buying or Building a Cage
Keep It Clean!
Cage Furnishings
Cage Floor Coverings
Cage Barrier and Cover
Why We Use Cages

A "Flight Cage" is Best for A Starling next

What is a flight cage? Simply put, a "flight cage" is a cage that is large enough to allow a bird to easily fly within it.

Why do we use flight cages? Wild starlings have unlimited flight space outdoors, flying freely for miles. Because our rescued starlings do not have that type of freedom in our home, we feel that we need to give them as much indoor space as possible. Although our birds receive daily free flight time, for their own safety they must be caged for part of each day and at night. Flight cages give our starlings room to exercise and stay in good shape when they are confined. Flight cages also help prevent mental stress or depression in our starlings (a couple of conditions that we believe can result from keeping birds in small cages). By doing an online search for flight cages, you will find various cage suppliers.

What type of flight cage? Starlings do not simply fly up and down; they spend a great deal of time flying back and forth. So the optimum starling flight cage should be as long as possible and as tall as your room space will reasonably allow. The Midwest 2000 cage at right is what we consider to be a small/medium size flight cage; its measurements are 3 feet long, 2 feet wide, 4 feet high.

Our preference is for a flight cage with vertical bars and bar spacing of 1/2". We like to arrange the interior of our cages so as to allow our starlings maximum use of cage space. Therefore we do not overload our cages with perches, and we position toys and dishes so that they do not block flying space.

Cage location. We suggest placing a starling cage in a room with lots of activity in it. Our starlings enjoy being in the center of activity in our home. They very obviously thrive on being in a room where we spend a lot of time, a place where they see us often during the day, where they hear our conversations, the tv, and telephone. This is why their cages are in our main living area. We do not recommend sticking a starling in a back room where he will seldom see or hear family members.

Midwest 2000 flight cage.


Buying or Building a Cage top next


If you want to buy a flight cage, doing an online search will give you links to various suppliers from whom you can purchase cages. The following are two of the many online cage suppliers: Quality Cage Company and Corner's Limited Custom Cages

Some starling owners prefer to build their own cages, and this allows them to design cages which will perfectly fit specific areas in their homes. If you plan to build your starling's cage, keep in mind when designing it that all parts of the cage will need to be easily accessible to you for those times when you need to catch your bird and for cage cleaning.

If you need ideas about how to design your own cage and what types of materials to use, visit the following Starling Talk webpage where you will find photos of homemade cages along with good information about building a starling cage for either indoors or outdoors: Cages for Starlings


Keep It Clean! top next


Cage hygiene is very important in preventing outbreaks of illness in your bird. Obviously, a starling cage needs to be maintained regularly in order to prevent bacteria, mold and smells from building up. A starling bathes constantly and may keep its cage floor wet. A starling will fling food out of its dishes, and its droppings pile up quickly. A clean cage is simply less likely to harbor diseases. We wash our bird cages outdoors using diluted bleach then rinse extremely well several times (some people prefer to clean with vinegar). In between full washings, we use a small steam cleaner on the cages if necessary. Our birds' cage paper is changed very frequently. Food bowls, water bowls, and toys are washed often, and perches are cleaned when needed. Areas surrounding the cages are vacuumed daily with either a small handheld vacuum or a large vac.


Our Cage Furnishings top next
  • Natural Perches -- We outfit our starling cages with natural tree branches of of various thicknesses in order to help exercise little starling feet. We have found that branches with rough bark on them are best for keeping nails and beaks trim. Our cages contain only a few main perches, and we position them on either end so as to allow as much flying space as possible. We do NOT use manzanita perches or wooden dowels commonly sold in pet stores. Their smooth, even surfaces do not aid in toe nail maintenance and can cause pressure sores on a bird's feet. We stay away from sandpaper perches because they easily cause irritation to a bird's footpads.
  • Cage Floor Covering -- Our choice for covering cage floors is newspaper. (See next section below.) We place the newspaper right on top of the cage floor grates. Stormy especially loves for her newspaper "carpet" to have photographs on it.
  • Rocks & Stones -- Several large rough stones, lava rocks, and a terra cotta pot are kept in each cage to aid in keeping starling nails trim. Our birds love prying amongst the rocks and swiping their beaks on them. Shadow even loves hunting crumbs of food hidden in his box of rocks.
  • Toys -- Each bird has several toys which are positioned in their cages so as not to block flying space. We occasionally rotate the toys in their cages. All toys are thoroughly checked for safety! See our Toy page for lists of safe and unsafe toys.
  • Wooden Shelf -- We have a homemade wooden shelf in one corner of each cage. Our birds play on these shelves and often "sun" on them. Stormy carries her favorite toys to her shelf and beats them furiously against it.
  • Bathing Dish -- We supply our birds with wide shallow containers so they may take daily baths. Starlings love bathing and splashing, and they are very good at giving the entire area around their cages a good soaking!!
  • Sleeping Box -- Some adult pet starlings seem to enjoy sleeping inside cavities such as small boxes. Some owners make sleeping boxes for their birds.


Cage Floor Coverings top next

We use black and white newspaper in all our bird cages and have done so for many years despite recent criticism for this. (Most newspaper ink now used in the USA is not toxic. If in doubt about this, phone your newspaper and ask what type of ink is used.) Black and white newspaper gives off no fumes toxic to birds and no fine dusts to be inhaled into a bird's air sacs. When changed regularly, newspaper is less apt to grow bactera than are some other cage liners. Additionally, newspaper on our cage floors allows us to easily see our birds' droppings. Monitoring droppings daily is one way that we keep a check on our birds' health. Some additional cage liners that are also known to be safe are paper towel, butcher paper, and unprinted newsprint.

Cage liner materials that we choose to avoid:

  • Corncob bedding, walnut shells -- Corncob is dusty, and if a bird inhales fine dust, the result can be illness or respiratory problems. Corncob bedding is indigestible and can cause obstruction in a bird that eats it. If kept damp or wet (as will happen when starlings bathe and splash in their cages) corncob can become a breeding ground for aspergillus, a mold that causes aspergillosis, a nasty fungal respiratory infection that can be fatal to birds. Walnut shells can cause internal damage to a pet bird who eats them, they make it very hard to monitor pet bird droppings, and they also need changing frequently to avoid bacterial or mold growth in a cage. Pet stores sell both cob and walnut bedding, many bird owners swear by it, but we refuse to use it.
  • Cat litter -- Both regular and clumping types of cat litter are dangerous to birds! Cat litter is powdery, and birds may inhale the powder even if they do not eat the litter, putting them at risk for respiratory problems. Many clumping litters contain a clay which swells many times its volume in the presence of fluid. If a bird eats this litter, the result may be intestinal obstruction, crop impaction, and even death.
  • Cedar and pine shavings -- Both pine and cedar shavings make it very hard to monitor a pet bird's droppings once the droppings have fallen down amongst the shavings and the liquid portion of droppings has been absorbed. Also, bacterial growth will take place if the shavings are not changed very frequently. Cedar shavings are NOT recommended; they contain volatile chemicals called "phenols," which are excessively strong for a bird's sensitive respiratory system and which may also affect liver and kidneys. Although many bird owners use cedar or pine shavings in cages, we prefer to avoid both!

Use your own judgment about whether to take the risk of using any of the aforementioned products with your starling.


Cage Barrier and Cage Cover top next

Cage Barrier
Plexiglass sheets surround the lower half of each of our starlings' cages, leaving the upper half uncovered -- this offers extra protection from our house cats and also protects our poor cats from fearless Stormy's vicious little beak. We had the plexiglass sheets cut to size, and we attached each one to the cages with cable ties for easy removal (we've purchased cable ties from our local stores such as Walmart, Home Depot, Office Depot). The photo above shows the plexiglass around the bottom of one of our cages.

Cage Cover
Our cages are covered on three sides with a dark sheet at bedtime so that our birds can sleep undisturbed by bright lights and movements in our home. (We do keep a very dim nightlight near the cages in case a bird gets startled at night and needs a small amount of light to return to a perch.) Not all starling owners cover their birds at night, and it is not required that they do so. Covering a cage is simply a matter of personal choice as are many of the things we do with our birds. You must decide what is best for your own bird.


Why We Use Cages top

We view a cage as strictly a place of protection for our birds when they must be confined! Yes, we have had people tell us that it is "cruel to keep birds in cages." The fact is that we prefer all our birds to be uncaged, and they do spend time flying freely inside our home daily under our supervision. However, realistically, they cannot always safely be allowed out, so we provide large cages for them. Cages are safe havens for pet birds -- places where they can sleep safely at night, where they feel secure, and where they can be protected when other pets are out, when visitors are over, or when their owners are away from home. We feel that cages play an important role in keeping birds safe in a home, although we would never cage any of our birds fulltime.

Starling Talk -- The most reliable starling care information online!

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