Caged birds – environment

Housing requirements for caged birds.

Cages, fences, enclosures, gateways, gates and all facilities used to secure birds must be constructed and maintained to reduce the risk of injury and attack by predators.

Birds may be housed in small indoor cages or large outdoor aviarys provided the following conditions are met:

  • The shortest length of the cage must be at least twice the wingspan of the largest bird in the cage.
  • The ratio between the length and width of the cage, at right angles to each other, should not exceed 4:1 unless the shorter of these two lines is at least 900 mm long
  • For indoor cages, minimum indoor cage dimensions (table below) must be provided
  • Natural environment for the species of bird kept should be mimicked and appropriate environmental enrichment should be provided, including perches
  • Feed and water containers should not be placed underneath perching areas
  • Environmental enrichment must be provided to enable natural behaviours
  • Hanging decorations and toys must not impede lines of flight or clutter cage
  • Faeces and urine accumulations must be removed regularly. The frequency dependent on the number of birds and space available
  • Normal diurnal pattern of lighting must be provided
  • Opportunities for appropriate exercise and playing must be provided
  • Air must be of acceptable quality with respect to dust, chemicals and smells
  • All birds must be observed standing, moving and flying during daily inspections.

Minimum indoor cage dimensions

Image: Cages — The ratio of A:B should not be greater than 4:1 unless B is at least 900mm long.
Size of bird (approx. length) Minimum floor area (sq cm) Number of birds Minimum height (cm) Increased floor area for each additional bird (sq cm)
100 mm e.g. zebra, Cuban, double bar, orange breasted waxbill finches, fife canaries. 1000 1 34 500
200 mm e.g. budgerigars, Yorkshire canaries 1600 1 34 800

Birds can be housed in small indoor cages as well as larger outdoor aviarys as long as all environmental and space needs are met. Regardless of whether birds are kept inside or outside, enclosures must be kept clean and well maintained at all times.

Birds that are kept in captivity are commonly deprived of their basic needs in relation to space, natural habitat, social and environmental enrichment. Birds have very strong natural instincts despite being domesticated animals. This means that deprivations from life in captivity can lead to severe behavioural problems and illness. Every effort must be made to address the needs of individual birds, taking into account their species, size, age, health and individual characteristics, to ensure optimum health.

Cage construction should always be of strong impervious materials that can be thoroughly washed and sterilized. The interior of the cages should be free from any sharp points or edges that may cause injury to birds or handlers.

Within the cage, wooden perches must be provided and have a diameter and length that enable every bird in the cage to perch comfortably. Perches should not impede lines of flight or be placed directly above other perches or food and drink containers as this can result in contamination by faeces. Birds will avoid eating dirty food and their health will rapidly deteriorate if they are not eating sufficiently.

Environmental enrichment can be provided from vegetation, branches, wood hollows, hiding places, hard items for chewing and toys. These should not be allowed to clutter the cage or impede lines of flight.


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