Do Birds Get Bored in Cages?
Over the years, many practices once common among pet owners have been slowly falling out of use. Neck leashes, for example, have been replaced with mouth leashes. Some don’t even use leashes at all and teach their pets to heel instead. This is part of a growing trend to treat pets more ethically and fairly than before.
One such practice that has gradually fallen out of fashion is the use of cages. Many people perceive cages to be primitive and confining, restricting the freedom of the pet to do anything. But while some species of pets such as cats and dogs are manageable without cages, the same can’t be easily said for birds. Birds can fly far out of an owner’s reach, and without a cage, untrained birds could get lost or even fly away for good. Because of this, the use of cages is still popular among bird owners to this day.
But this begs the question – do birds get bored of cages? Is there any scientific or behavioral proof that shows dissatisfaction among birds when caged? We’re here with answers.
Birds and Boredom
Do, do birds get bored in cages? The short answer is yes, for the most part. The long answer is a little more complicated than that, though. You see, contrary to popular belief, birds are quite intelligent creatures. Sure, they don’t make as many facial expressions as dogs or have visible behavior patterns like cats, but they are pretty smart.
Birds aren’t just smart, either – they’re also sociable. You’ll find many birds socializing with others of the same species, whether it’s a flock of sparrows by the park or a raft of penguins in the zoo. They’re constantly connected with one another, often engaging in physical contact. Only certain species of birds prefer living alone, so unless you own something like a canary, they will want to socialize.
So, we know that birds are smart and that they love to socialize. Combine those two facts, and imagine putting a bird in a cage. As you may have already guessed, they’ll likely get bored. For one, the lack of social interaction gives them little to do. They already have plenty of free time in captivity, as captive birds don’t need to think or spend time hunting for their next meal. Without social interaction, there’s not much else for them to enjoy other than nibble food every now and then.
And then there’s their intelligence. Sure, you could make an argument that birds aren’t smart enough to be aware of their own boredom. But the fact of the matter is that they are, and they will do anything they can to relieve their boredom. In the worst cases, you’ll find your birds exhibiting behavior uncommon to wild birds, such as the excessive plucking of feathers. With little to do, they’ll try interacting with whatever they lay their beaks on – even their own feathers.
What should I do to relieve boredom in birds?
So, now that you know that your bird does get bored like us humans, what can you do about it? There are a few options available, so pick whatever works best for you.
Own a bird that prefers living alone
The easiest possible solution is to get a bird that doesn’t mind living by its lonesome. You won’t have to worry about it living in a cage if it doesn’t mind at all. A perfect example of this would be a canary – they prefer keeping to themselves, contrary to the social nature of many bird species. They’re also small, low-maintenance, and don’t nearly chirp as loudly as other birds, making them perfect for small apartments and houses.
Buy a bigger cage
If you already own a bird, and you know it hates being stuck in a cage, you can try giving it more room to spread its wings and play around by expanding its living space. The easiest way to do this would be to buy a bigger cage, but there’s a little more to it than just that.
Should you buy a bigger cage, try also buying some toys that’ll give it more to do. Things like swing sets will allow it to enjoy itself more when you’re not around. If you can’t afford to buy toys, you can even make do with DIY trinkets, so long as they’re safe. For example, parakeets are known to enjoy living in hollow coconut shells if they’re able to fit inside.
Bird-proof your house
If you don’t want to buy a bigger cage, the next best thing is to bird-proof your entire house and let it roam around. Now, this is a huge undertaking and involves careful planning and even some expense for necessary renovations and maintenance. But if done correctly, you’ll be able to give your bird a living space way bigger than any sort of cage.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though. For one, allowing your bird to roam free around the house means that it can tamper with anything it comes across. It could topple pottery or silverware, scratch gadgets, and more. So unless you’re only giving it access to areas without sensitive objects, be prepared for possible damages. Aside from this, you can’t really line newspaper all over the house, so expect bird droppings anywhere.
Get another bird (or two)
If you don’t want your bird to live alone, you can always get a partner for it. Ideally, it should be one of the same species as your existing pet to maximize the chances of them getting along. If the birds end up liking each other, they’ll keep each other company, giving them plenty more things to do throughout the day.
Birds do feel boredom just as much as we do. If you want it to enjoy its life at home, give it space, give it toys, and give it company. I’m sure your bird will love you for it, even if it can’t tell or show you that it does.