Impulse Shopping. About 2 years ago, I was wandering around in a Petland Store (something I have learned NOT to do) and discovered parakeets, or budgies as they are also called. I was avoiding the puppy row and the kitten row and wound up on the bird row thinking I'd be safe. Well, I wasn't. They had these little blue and white birds and without thinking twice, I promptly told the sales person to get me those birds ever so fast. And she did. Before I knew it, I had two birds, the largest cage they had, some feed, some millet and a book on budgies.
Breaking the news to my husband and to the cats. Now, I have a habit of picking up stray dogs and cats but rarely have I actually purchased animals as I feel there are so many in shelters that need homes. I have made exceptions with purebred dogs, but only three times out of the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of animals I've had the pleasure of knowing in my life. My point is that my husband about had a small fit when I came home sporting two small birds. He quickly reminded me that we have two cats who love love love sqawky tiny things. Bless his heart, he did his best to help. He helped me scold the cats, helped me spray them with a water bottle, and eventually, help me hang the bird cage from the ceiling. This seemed to do the trick. The cats were too fat to jump very high and although they tried, they couldn't reach the cage. They just hit the wall and finally gave up. See pic 3.
Little Snacks? Say it ain't so. After about two days of this, I couldn't stand the look on the little bird's faces always wandering if the cat was going to 'make it this time'. I moved them to a cat-free room in the house and started shopping for a secure bird cage. The more I shopped the worse I began to feel about the birds. As I read more and more about budgies, I found out that they were a indigenous species to Australia and the word budgerigar actually means "little snack" in Australian Aborigine!
Live with it. But the deed was done. I know it is death to set budgies free. They can't compete with the House Sparrow and the European Starling. So, with much guilt and the weight of the pet-bird upon my shoulders, I started looking for something to make me feel better about the plight of the 2 small parakeets now hanging from my ceiling, who I called Birdie and Pretty-Bird.
What do Monkeys have to do with this review? Let me digress a moment (like I haven't already). I saw a baby monkey the day before I bought the birds. A woman at another pet store where I get pond supplies had a baby spider monkey. They are illegal in Georgia unless you have a special license. I had always thought I wanted a monkey. Just thought it would be cool to have a little monkey who would sit on your shoulder and steal change. Until that day. Ok. I have problems with people having wild animals, especially monkeys, as pets so I would NEVER actually have a monkey who sat on my shoulder and stole change. This being said, what did I do the following day? I purchased two beautiful parakeets and they will live in a cage the rest of their lives. That is wrong. But they were there in a 12 x 12 cage prior to that and at least I could possibly give them a bigger, happier, more secure place where they can actually fly around. I know that my birds are far removed from their ancestral roots, but it still seems terrible to keep a bird, A BIRD, in a cage.
The actual review. After much research and online shopping, I found flight cages. Yea, I know. It took a long time to get to the actual review, but this is just how you get me - back story and all. So now on to it - most flight cages were astronomically expensive, but I was not deterred. This was my guilt-free solution and I was too cheap to pay $500 for a cage. I finally found a website: www.birdcages4less.com that had great deals on great cages. With free shipping!!
Arrival and Assembly. My cage arrived in about 10 days. It did require assembly, but I was able to put it together with a simple screwdriver in about 2 hours and I have very little sense. My parents had just inherited two parakeets from my grandmother, who had to move into a place that did not allow pets, and we ordered them one also. Same thing. Quick shipping and easy assembly.
Specs. The cage has 1/2" bar spacing, which budgie require. It is made of 2mm steel. It comes in a choice of four colors. It has a removable metal grate & tray that is very easy to remove and clean without disturbing the birds. There are no dividers, just shelves and ladders for the birds to maximize their flight and exercise area. It is 30" high on the interior (the bird's area) and 62" wide. It has a depth of 18". It has a stand with a storage shelf below that is perfect for keeping all the supplies. The cage has four access doors, two in front, and two breeder doors on each side. It comes with 2 large ladders that you can place anywhere for the birds to walk up and down. It also comes with 3 wooden perches and 2 large plastic water and food dishes. Everything you need!
No cat access. We used plastic ties to secure the top cage to the stand. This made the cage stable enough for the birds to feel secure and the cats to not bother them. They still sit and stare sometimes, but they can't climb or access it and the birds pay no mind to the cats. If they are "talking" to each other and a cat enters the room, they don't go silent like they used to do. I read that when birds go silent, they know a predator is in the jungle - when there is a lot of bird noise, the jungle is safe.
What do the birds think? Well, all I can say is this: My dad's parakeets bred the following year and had two baby budgies. My little ones sing all day and fly around playing chase. The cage isn't so large that it requires a lot of room, but it gives the birds a way to exercise their wings and do what comes naturally to them. And like all creatures, it gives them the space to be alone when they need it. When they get cranky, they go to opposite ends. When they feel friendly, they huddle up together. I have a bird tape that plays almost all the time and they sing along with the other birds. I feel this makes them feel 'safer in the jungle' and they immediately start flying and singing when it begins to play if it has stopped for any reason. The cage comes on rollers and I can move it from window to window. Right now, I have it facing the yard with the bird feeders and I open the windows. They talk to the birds outside and watch them all day. I can't tell if they are happy, but I feel that they are. At least, as happy as they can be giving their circumstance. At least, I don't feel as guilty as I once did. It has been almost 3 years and BeeBee and Snowflake (finally decent bird names) seem content.
Banned from Petland. I did venture back into Petland last Thursday and came home with a puppy so I have a no-Petland-ever-again-t-shirt that my husband just made. And by t-shirt, I mean serious threat to my well-being. But that, thankfully for you, is another story. :0)
Update On May 26, 2008: I tried hard to get a video of the budgies being silent until the birds in the back yard arrived with the chirpin. With the windows open, the keets come alive. But the video won't upload. :( They immediately become alive & started grooming each other & flew to talk to the birds outside. But BB got confused with the mirror & thought one 'bird" from the outside got in & BB tried to groom him but was confused how hard the bird was until Snowflake came over & pecked him into reality. Then he flew around while he tried to get his pride back. It took 2 honey treats & a spray of a 'rain bath' to make him ok. I lubs them.