Suitable Cage Provides Security for a Starling
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
starling owners prefer to build their
own cages, and this allows them to design
cages which will
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
& 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.
-- 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
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.
-- 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!!
Some adult pet starlings seem to enjoy
sleeping inside cavities such as small
boxes. Some owners make sleeping boxes
for their birds.
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.
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.
-- 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.
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!
your own judgment about whether to take
the risk of using any of the aforementioned
products with your starling.
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.
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.
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.