Go Outside!

Earlier this spring I had the great pleasure to attend a Phoenix Landing lecture, with guest speaker Nyla Copp, “Get  The Flock Out!” in which she discussed the importance  for the health of our parrots  to provide them with  time outdoors in the sunshine & fresh air. Exposure to UV light is vital to parrots in order for them to produce vitamin D, which is essential for the utilization of calcium, a necessity for parrot health. There is no better source for UV light than pure, unfiltered sunshine. Parrots have a highly refined respiratory system which makes them more susceptible to chemicals and contaminants in the air. With indoor air quality decreasing over the years, avian vets have been seeing an increase in the number of companion parrots with respiratory illnesses. This was true of the little lovebird, Orlando, who came to live with Nyla several years ago. Nyla combined her construction skills, creativity, and passion for providing the best care possible for her new companion and built Orlando an outdoor aviary. Through her business, My Birdie Buddy, Nyla now designs and builds custom aviaries, as well as unique perches and playstands. In her presentation she shared invaluable tips and advice on design, materials and construction techniques for building aviaries, from simple to elaborate, from enclosing a porch or deck to building large free-standing structures or small portable ones, and left the entire audience longing for their own aviaries for their birds.

I have yet to build an aviary, for my requirements for one are high, as it must be able to contain my very powerful GreenWing Macaw, Annie, and be big enough to allow each bird to have enough personal space to prevent fighting and allow flight. In truth, I think I will need at least two separate enclosures; but this does not mean that my birds are sitting indoors waiting for me while I plan and dream and research aviaries? NO! We go outside as often as we can, nearly every day.

From my very first days with parrots, I have always taken them outside. At first, my little parrotlets were in a cage that I could pick up and carry so I would bring them out and set them on a table or bench or chair whenever I was out working in the yard. Then when Ariel joined the family, her cage was too large for me to carry around, and a friend gave me an older, travel sized cage which we used. But even that was very awkward, as it became more challenging to find places to safely set her outdoor cage.

Then one day I was attending a Phoenix Landing event, and I saw John Kerns, rolling a travel cage mounted to a babystroller frame. Wow, what a great idea! John told me that his wife Bobbie put them together and calls them “cageollers” and  most generously offered this one to me! I will be forever grateful! Thank you, thank you John & Bobbie!
Once home I mounted Ariel’s outside cage onto the stroller frame and secured it firmly with zip ties (the cage that John gave me had bar spacing to large for Ariel’s little head). Now she traveled with me all around the yard wherever I went, she could reach through the bars and nibble on parrot safe plants, could easily be moved in or out of the sun or shade, with ease and safety.
From the day I knew that we would be getting Trixie, I began looking for a second stroller base to build a cageoller for her.  I had no luck finding another like Ariel’s, and upon meeting Trixie, a BIG Blue & Gold Macaw, realized I needed something bigger anyway. We had a large wire dog crate in our attic that would work as a cage section, and I just needed to find a base. While glancing through one of my husband’s tool catalogs, Harbor Freight Tools, I noticed an ad for a flat (no sides) powder coated steel garden wagon. I checked the measurement of the wire crate, 36” long x 23”wide x 24”high, and realized it would fit nearly perfectly on the 24”x48” wagon, all the better that it was on sale! I removed the bottom plastic tray from the wire crate, and again used zip ties to attach the two together, trimming off the excess of the tie. I initially replaced the plastic tray, but realized that without the tray, poop, and water from misting, and pieces of food could fall straight through into the grass, resulting in less required clean-up.
As I continued to foster various birds for Phoenix Landing, I kept searching for baby carriage bases, still with no luck, so I consulted the cageoller creator, Bobbie, again. She was now buying used Snap-N-Go stroller bases, made by Baby Trend. This is a stroller base designed for a baby car seat to be snapped into place, and comes in a single and double model. Used ones can be found for sale on Craig’s List. Bobbie uses the double stroller frame with a wire dog crate, like that first one that her husband John gave me, for her macaws and larger Amazons. These would be suitable for larger cockatoos as well. For smaller birds, I have used standard “pet store” bird cages, as there are so many around that are really too small for a parrot to live in, but this puts them to good use. (Important side note here, make sure all doors, even food bowl doors are very securely latched when using these cages outdoors, use quicklinks, clamps or zip ties for extra safety.)
One of the major downfalls of using this type of cage for cageollers though, is that since my birds really love being misted (and I mean soaked down to the skin wet!) nearly every time we go outside, the cages were rusting and powder coating peeling off very quickly.

That’s when I came across the King’s aluminum travel carriers (contact Phoenix Landing for purchasing questions). They all have 5/8” bar spacing, this would work for all but the smallest birds. The larger one is 20x29x20, the smaller one is 18 1/2×16 1/2x 18. Aluminum is very light weight, will not chip, flake or rust like powder coating. I will admit they are pricey, but I look at it as a long-term investment.
The Kings are too small for Trixie and Annie macaws who still use the wire dog crates, but they work great for my other birds, so everyone has a cageoller to fit their needs.

Cageollers are great for traveling with your birds too. Once removed from the cage/carrier, the stroller folds flat, and when you reach your destination, reattach the cage to the stroller using several bungee cords, or you could use zipties, just remember to bring scissors to cut them off when you are ready to take the cageoller apart for the trip back home.

So go find a cage or carrier appropriate for your bird, pick up a stroller or wagon, build your own cageoller, and get outside this summer!

Made by Judy for her birds Dixie and Wilson

13 thoughts on “Go Outside!

  1. It sounds like a great idea, but what about West Nile? Because of the mild winter, we’re expecting more mosquitoes than usual this summer. Would putting a fine mesh over the cage work? I’m thinking of mesh like the kind they use on birdie backpacks work? Or would that block out too much sun?


  2. Terri, I had the same concern years ago when West Nile first became a problem here in the US, especially because I live so close to the water, and are always surrounded by mosquitoes. I have had the opportunity to ask several of the best avian vets in the country about the threat of West Nile to parrots and they have all said the same thing. West Nile primarily effects corvids, that is crows, ravens, jays and magpies. The number of parrots who have been effected by West Nile is so small that the benefits of sunshine and fresh air far out weight any risk. It is thought that since West Nile is a disease of tropical origin, and parrots are tropical birds they may have some sort of built in immunity or mosquito repellent, we just don’t know yet.
    Personally, I have never noticed mosquitoes on my parrots, even my naked (but beautiful) Annie.
    But certainly if you would feel more comfortable providing an extra level of protection for you parrot, you can use some type of mosquito netting or screening. It will block at some of the UV light, but some will still get through. Just be sure that whatever type of material you choose is either out of the reach of your parrot, or is nontoxic if they get hold of it and chew it.


  3. I am using a Dog Stroller that zips up front and back with the mesh openings and I put a stand in it for my male electus. We take him to the park and get startled comments on “that is a bird in there”. He rides fine on his stand and we make the mile long walk without difficulty. It gives him fresh air and I know is he is contained and all zipped up. The only complaint is he is a male green bird in a pink stroller!


    • Susan, I doubt your boy truely has any complaints about the color of his stroller, and is just happy to be out and about with you.


  4. Your article “Go Outside” clearly demonstrated the benefits of bringing your birds outdoors. I agree with the premise that birds are healthier when they have changes in their environment and routine including fresh air and sunshine. However, I think it is very important to point out the risks involved so those may be addressed and mitigated.
    First, the cage should be secure enough to prevent your bird from escaping. You may also opt to have its wings clipped. I don’t believe birds should ever be left alone outside unless they are in a secure aviary. Hawks, raccoons and snakes will attack and kill birds in cages. It is fine to take them outside but do not leave them unattended.


    • Don you are correct that you should always make sure your bird’s cage is secure, and they should not be left unattended.
      And with the heat wave that is effecting most of the US, you need to be aware of overheating your parrot.
      I would caution that clipping a birds wings will in no way make them safer outside. Clipped birds can easily be carried away by a gust of wind, and not having flight feathers hampers their ability to evade predators, and to fly back to you. But clipping remains a personal choice.


  5. How does it work when you have a large cage, too heavy to be carrying in and out, and a flighted bird. How do you go from indoors to the cage sitting outside without the mishap of your bird getting startled and flying off?


    • Gail, the idea of a cageoller, is that you use a travel size carrier or cage, which you can carry in and out to the stroller base, or roll the entire unit indoors. If you have a separate outdoor cage or aviary, you can again use a carrier or smaller cage, to safely transport your parrot.


  6. Your blog is good but birds should never be sprayed until they are soaked like that. Because it can strip the natural oils from their feathers & this can allow them to over or under heat very quickly. I hope you know not to spray them with non filtered water & not directly in the face. XxX


  7. Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been researching cages on strollers and was so happy to see what you used as I’ve already purchased the aluminum cages for my Grey and Senegal. Now I know what base to use and how to attach. This year in the garden will be so much fun!


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