BIRDIE-WALKS: An Essential Part of Your Parrot’s Mental Health

By Suzanne and Larry Cromwell

Have you ever wondered how you could provide a high place in your home or in your aviary for your birds?

We have a high “birdie walk” in our Florida home. Our pair of Timneh greys are constantly either walking on it, resting on it, or climbing up and down from it. They love it and even need it. We knew before we left our home in Hobe Sound, Florida for our summer house in Milbridge, Maine, that one serious problem was going to be the lack of a birdie walk there. We have a high ceiling in our newly constructed bird room in Maine but had nothing for our Timneh greys to roost on higher than their cages. The result was not pretty. Our almost 54-year-old wild-caught, former breeder pair, mostly just moped in their cage for the first couple of weeks until we were able to construct a suitable substitute for their beloved high roost back home.

We all know that attaching to walls usually results in wall damage. And if you can’t or don’t want to hang something from the ceiling, what are your options? We knew it would have to be free-standing and sturdy.

With a great deal of help from one of the construction crew members, who built our bird room addition, we have come up with a way to build a simple platform for our Timneh Greys to hang out on.

Our birdy platform is 9 ½ feet off the ground but you can build yours at any height that is high enough to be above everything else in the room but low enough so the birds can’t damage the ceiling or the walls.

The support bases for the columns are two heavy duty Christmas tree stands that are tested for trees up to 10 feet tall with a trunk diameter of up to 7 inches.  In our case, our carpenter and very helpful friend provided two 9 foot tree trunks that are approximately 7 inches in diameter. He sawed them down on his land and transported them to our house. We screwed them into the stands and then screwed in a 4” x 1” board on the top of the trunk columns. Our board is 13 feet long but you can’t have a span of more than 6 feet if you don’t want the board to sag in the middle. So our board extends on both sides of the trunks.  We used poplar but any bird-safe wood can work.

We provided both a swing with bird-safe ropes that can be climbed as well as a rope spiral to climb up to the roost. We attached the spiral rope to the top of their cage and attached it to a hook on the platform.  The swing and the rope spiral are attached to hooks (facing in) which made replacing the rope swing and rope spiral easy to do.  We also attached two outriggers for the birds to sit on. This construction is heavy and is not intended to be moved, so place it where you can easily clean around it.

We chose the largest trunk that the stands could support for stability, which we would recommend but the height will depend on your space. Even a foot higher than the cage height will give them a great place to climb up to. 

Our Timneh greys are almost 54 years old and can no longer fly up due to arthritis, but they can and do climb and go up and down many times during the day. If your birds are able to fly up and down they will enjoy it too. We cannot put a tree in our bird room, but I can assure you that they enjoy this enrichment.  They rarely come down except to eat, bathe, and sleep. We think it has saved their lives. It has certainly made them better!

Editor’s note: See more about their Florida birdie-walk in an earlier blog post:
https://blog.phoenixlanding.org/2017/05/27/birdiewalk/

These wild caught Timneh greys were adopted through Phoenix Landing in 2013 and have been living their best possible life since. It’s very hard to find adopters who simply appreciate the magic of birds, without expectation, especially a bonded pair. Suzanne and Larry are extraordinary and we are so grateful!

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