A brief review of every budgie cage we own

I know it’s completely excessive, but I own five cages (two of them flight cages) and only three birds! I swear there’s an excuse for every one. Since I’ve got a good range of parakeet cages, I thought it might help someone out to have a brief review of each one.  They all have pros, cons and some have very specific purposes. Hopefully I can justify a portion of my over-spending by helping others make informed decisions!

prevue park plaza bird cage
Prevue Pet Products Park Plaza Bird Cage, Coco Brown (on the right)
This was our very first bird cage. It met the minimum size requirement for parakeets (see size on link) and seemed to have some nice features. To be honest, before we got our first parakeet we weren’t too sure birds would be for us, and this cage could have also worked for a sugar glider.

The Park Plaza is a very good solid bird cage with nice construction. I liked that the food and water bowls swung out with the access doors, making it easy to replace food and water without letting a not yet tame bird out of the cage. There is also a double lock on the front access door. The door itself has a nice large opening which was a big help for taming.

We ended up replacing this cage because it was too low to the ground. Toby is not at all a ground bird and so ended up just using the top portion of the cage. She was fine with it, but it really wasn’t enough room to move or play. Also for a bird that spends several hours a day in their cage it just doesn’t have enough horizontal space for exercising.

Another con is that when you take the grate out at the bottom, which we like to do so our parakeets can ground forage, it leaves a huge gap at the front which must be “patched” with cardboard. Not a huge deal for our Toby, who has never tried to escape anything in her life, but for a more intrepid budgie this would be a problem.

Also, not shown are the seed catcher attachments, which we used for a while, and found that they really increased the footprint of the cage without much benefit.

parakeet cage costs

HQ Victorian Top Bird Cage with Cart Stand
This is my favorite cage out of all five. It is incredibly well-made, and really attractive. I find that our flight cages are okay looking, but this cage looks like a nice piece of furniture versus something utilitarian.

It’s not just appealing to the human eye, but also has many features that birds appreciate. The top opens for a great way to transition to the outside, there’s a wooden dowel perch included to keep the top open, otherwise it could slam shut which would be dangerous. We’ve weighted it with perches on the outside to make it heavy enough to stay open on its own.

The area above the main access door also folds out for a porch-like area. Our parakeets get a ton of use out of the indoor/outdoor features.

The food access doors on this cage are great too, you open the door and slide out the bowl, which is nestled in a “cage” of its own. It’s very easy to sneak bowls in and out of the cage without risking an escape.

Speaking of which, you can also remove the grate without having to patch a gap, because of the included metal flap covering the area.

There are a few cons to the cage – all the decorative curves make it a little harder to clean the crevices. Additionally, because of the way the top opens it can be challenging to hang toys from the top of the cage, the way you would in a flat top cage. Because it narrows at the top we found it difficult to make a good place for multiple budgies to sleep, since they all like to be high up.

For the size, this cage is also fairly expensive, $209 at the time of this posting. You can certainly get a bigger cage for a lot less money, but what you’re paying for here is the superior quality and the details. Even with the few cons, this cage edges out the A&E flight cage as my favorite.

Prevue chalk white flight cage
Prevue Pet Products Wrought Iron Flight Cage with Stand, Chalk White (on left, dimensions at link)
Out of the three largest cages we own, this is the one that I would least recommend. As soon as we took it out of the box we were disappointed by the quality. Several of the bars were bent and the finish was already nicked. The bent bars were pushed back into shape, but it was certainly telling how easy it was to do so. Also I like having a flat top to put out treats or toys, but this was so weak and bowed in it made me nervous putting anything remotely heavy up there.

I thought I would dislike the brightness of the cage, but I actually didn’t mind that at all. It makes it easy to find soiled areas and clean them up.

The size is really nice, but that’s about it. The food access doors are on spring hinges which would be dangerous for any budgie that might try to escape. Also, removing the grate at the bottom left a huge gap at the back. We used paper tape to cover it, which worked for Toby because, again, she’s never tried to escape anything in her life. But, there’s no way that Kelly could live in this cage, she’d be out in a second either through the food doors or the bottom. With Kelly’s propensity for bar-chewing she would almost certainly eat all the paint off this cage anyway.

Overall I’m pretty disappointed with this purchase, particularly since a spend of just about $30 more got me much better quality for the next cage on our list.

second flight cage A&E flight cage

A&E Cage Company Flight Bird Cage (on left, dimension at link, select color “green”)
With similar dimensions and features, for just slightly more money, this cage is FAR better than the Prevue flight cage. The bars are much sturdier and the top is rock solid. I’m not a huge fan of the food access doors on this one either, but they have a tab lock that is at least secure, if not convenient.

The space and the construction are very good, but there aren’t a lot of optional features to be found here either. Just a good solid flight cage with a lot of room. Taking out the grate does leave a gap, we were able to use the included dowel perch to fill the space and I’m still able to remove the bottom tray, so that worked out just fine.

If you want a utilitarian flight cage with loads of room and really good finish and bar quality this is the cage for you.

small Vision cage quarantine cage for our new parakeet
Vision Bird Cage Model S01 – Small
I almost forgot to include this cage because we don’t use it very often at all! I purchased the Small Vision cage for a few potential purposes.
– Hospital cage for a sick bird
– Travel cage if we needed to go to the vet
– Going outside to enjoy good weather cage

For the size, this cage was a real pain to put together! After having owned several relatively expensive cages, this is definitely a whole different animal. The bars seem very weak, everything else is made of plastic. I know a lot of people find the bottom tray very convenient for containing mess, but I can’t imagine having a bigger version of this and having to lift the whole cage top off to clean the bottom.

I don’t like that the doors just fall open if you’re not careful when unlocking them. Overall this cage is fine for what we would use it for, but based on my feelings about this one I would never get a larger Vision Cage for a main cage. I know they are very reasonably priced and a lot of people love them, so no flames please! It’s just not my cup of tea. I do like that they are tabletop though, that seems like it would be great, since all of my main cages eat a ton of floor space.

So, that’s a very brief review of our five cages. The two that we are currently using are the HQ Victorian Top and the A&E flight cage. The Park Prevue I think I’m going to donate to a bird rescue or see if there’s anyone else local who would like it. The Prevue Chalk White flight cage is currently taking up a ton of space in a spare room, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that one!

If you have any specific questions about these cages feel free to drop a comment or reach out through my Facebook page. I’ll be happy to help!

How to avoid breeding parakeets

Now that we have added a boy to our formerly all girl flock, some folks have asked if we plan to breed parakeets. The answer is a resounding “NO”! I plan to avoid breeding parakeets for several reasons:

  1. I have enough parakeets and don’t want more, particularly with my husband’s allergies, three molting parakeets is about all he can take! Also, the world does not need me to make more parakeets, there are loads out there that need a good home. I see lots of home-based breeders who have a hard time finding homes for their babies.
  2. Breeding parakeets can be incredibly difficult. If it goes well, maybe not, but even provisioning a nest box, nesting material, and then keeping the babies and nest clean is more than I want to handle. And that’s just basic human intervention, assuming mom and dad budgie do their job caring for the babies. If they can’t or won’t I would have to take over feeding babies on a crazy schedule, with a full time job there’s no way.
  3. The health risks to my adult females is not worth it for me. Laying budgies can become egg bound, which is potentially fatal. Yes, I know that every female parakeet may lay eggs, whether they are fertile or not. But, we’ve been able to keep our two girls, both in breeding condition for over a year, from laying at all. If I can prevent it, I do not want the presence of a male parakeet to change that track record.
  4. If allowed to begin breeding we could quickly end up with an excessive number of parakeets. Also, I would then have to worry about the baby parakeets growing up and wanting to breed with their clutch mates/siblings. Animals don’t have a sense that incest is undesirable, so it would be incumbent on me to make sure they didn’t breed with close relatives. And basically everyone in the cage would be a relative.
  5. The cost of care and potential veterinarian costs would rise exponentially with the numbers of parakeets, and I’m not prepared to take on a large additional expense.

How do I plan to keep them from breeding and laying?

  1. Provide no nest box or anything that could be perceived as a nest. I’m aware that some budgies will lay just about anywhere, including a cage floor or just randomly while sitting on a perch. But, not providing anything that could be construed as a next box is one way to discourage laying. This means no flat wood perches, no food bowls that they can comfortably sit in, and absolutely no Coconut Hideaways , Sea Grass Bird Snuggle Huts or anything else that they can hide in, sit on, or may otherwise see as a desirable place to raise children.
  2. Limit daylight hours. We need to keep day and night even, if the budgies think that it’s springtime with longer days they may decide it’s a good time to start laying. We are going to make sure that everyone gets 12 hours of darkness and no more than 12 hours of light. If things start getting amorous we may push it back to more darkness than that.
  3. Separate the sexes. No one has expressed any romantic interest in Kevin yet, but it the cage starts rocking I will probably make the choice to keep Kevin caged apart from whichever girl wants to mate with him. We just got down to one cage, so that will not be ideal, but if they are only together under adult supervision, and with the third wheel of the other girl, hopefully we can keep these crazy kids from knocking beaks.

I know there’s no way to 100% keep them from laying eggs if their bodies tell them to do it, but I can still control what happens at that point. I’m sure that this is a bit controversial, or offensive to some, but I don’t believe that my female parakeets have a natural “right” to reproduce. I think that it’s okay for me, the ultimately responsible party, to ensure that we don’t bring more parakeets into the world. Here are some options for what to do if we end up with unwanted eggs.

  1. After the first egg is laid, complete the clutch with Dummy Eggs . Using the dummy eggs to get up to a full clutch of seven can make the budgie stop laying. At that point I would just leave her the fake eggs to care for until she was bored of them.
  2. As eggs are laid, shake, boil, or freeze them and then return to the cage. If boiling or freezing, make sure the eggs come back to room temperature before returning. Again, wait until the parakeet is tired of caring for the eggs and then remove.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that we can keep everyone in the friend zone. But, if not, I’m glad to have a plan for contingencies and unwanted eggs. I would encourage every parakeet parent to leave breeding up to the pros (including home-based pros, of course!) and also to be mindful of the fact that there is no shortage of parakeets out there already who are looking for good homes.

Bed time is a total nightmare with three budgies!

After several days of all three cages out in the main living area Patrick and I were more than ready to consolidate parakeets and get back down to two cages. Kevin’s quarantine cage was more than half blocking the hallway to the bedroom and bathroom so you’d have to sort of sidle past. Not only was this a pain for us, but we were definitely waking Kevin up every time we went from the living room to the rest of the house after 7pm! Little did I know that reducing the number of cages would result in a budgie bed time nightmare for all of us.

The first surprising decision we made was to move Toby into Kelly’s flight cage and put Kelly and Kevin in the HQ Victorian Top cage.  Everyone seemed to enjoy using that cage during the day, choosing to nap in there and hang out on the porch like they used to. It was always Kelly’s favorite cage too, we only upgraded her because she seemed so agitated we thought she needed a larger space, but it turned out she was just generally dissatisfied being separated from Toby, even if it was for her own safety!

So, we picked a morning and reduced the three cages down to two, and Kevin found his new favorite spot on a  perch between them. We changed things up in every cage, trying to shake them all up and reduce any feelings of ownership or territoriality.

Kevin looking very handsome prior to the budgie bed time nightmareThe first day went swimmingly. They moved between cages and had a great time hanging out together and negotiating their lives as a flock of three. Kevin is still doing a lot of observation, and refuses to get involved in petty arguments. Toby likes to try and intimidate other birds from eating, but Kevin very calmly stands his ground and they typically end up eating out of the same bowl! It’s funny how he can be passive but at the same time he usually gets what he wants without being violent.

Soon the whole day had passed and it was time for everyone to bed down. I decided to try having Kevin sleep in with Toby in the big cage, because he is so chill about everything I really don’t have to worry about her being too aggressive with him, where as I had still seen Kelly aggressing on him a bit.

As soon as the lights dimmed I realized we had a bit of an unexpected issue. Kevin wouldn’t settle down! He kept climbing up and down the side bars closest to Kelly. I intuited that he wanted to be with Kelly and moved him to Kelly’s cage, leaving Toby alone.

Well, that didn’t work. Kelly was agitated and wanted to be in the next cage over with Toby. I would have been okay with letting her burn off the energy and giving up but she started biting the cage bars, which makes this absolutely infuriating clangy bang noise that drives me up a wall.

I then moved Kelly into Toby’s cage. That didn’t work for two reasons. Toby attacked Kelly immediately and Kevin got very upset that he was all alone.

So – I moved Kevin into the flight cage with Kelly and moved Toby into the cage on the left by herself.

At this point both Kelly and Toby are upset. Kelly because they are separated again and Toby because she can’t settle down, there are two toys higher than the perches in the HQ Victorian so she has to try to sleep on them, and can’t get comfortable, shockingly, on the narrow ledge of a mirror top.

It was like the most deranged shell game ever. Finally after about an hour of shuffling them around like a moron I stuck them all in the flight cage and decided to let them sort it out. Toby and Kelly battled noisily for about half an hour, because although there were at least 4 places to sleep at the exact same level they both needed to be on a small Y-perch. Kevin stayed completely out of it on another perch entirely, but I’m sure it wasn’t restful.

Finally they settled and Toby fell asleep with one foot on the perch and one foot on a cage bar. I’m guessing that she relaxed her grip when she fell into a deeper sleep because not an hour later she biffed off the perch and had quite a nice little night terror, her first in well over a year! The lights went back on and I spoke to her a bit less than sweetly until she was calmed down.

After that point we were mostly quiet except for some little squawks and angry noises. I kept one ear open all night expecting to hear another night terror, but all was quiet and everyone was undamaged this morning, at least physically!

Irrationally, perhaps, I think we are going to try having them sleep all together again, and possibly even hang out together in the flight cage when we leave the house. I know it’s taking a risk with Toby and Kelly getting in fights still, but I am so tired of Kelly being miserable that I think they need another shot at working it out. I hate leaving Kevin in the middle of it, but he’s pleased to be around budgies and I’m not sure he minds.

I’ll keep a sharp eye on everything as it develops, of course, and be ready to make adjustments and shuffle them around, but at this point I think I need to give myself a bit of a break and let them try to get it sorted! I can’t have another budgie bed time nightmare like that one at the very least.

Introducing our new parakeet to the flock

Kevin finally made it through quarantine! It was harder and a lot less fun than we all anticipated and it makes me so glad that he has made it through and can be with the flock. Of course, introducing parakeets can be a tense situation, so the relief at his getting through quarantine was immediately followed by anxiety about merging him into the flock of Toby and Kelly.

This was compounded by the fact that Toby and Kelly can be pretty tough customers. They live separately now because of some violent interactions between the two of them and I was worried they would immediately attack Kevin. When we introduced Kelly to Toby we took it too fast, so this time the process was a lot more measured and thought out, although probably still a bit too speedy.

First, a few days before the official end of quarantine we started moving Kevin’s cage out into the dining area where Toby and Kelly live for half hour blocks of time. This way everyone could check each other out and learn a bit about the new guy. The change in Kevin’s demeanor was immediate, as soon as he saw other budgies he clearly felt a lot better about life. He was preening himself, making little noises, and eating in front of us. It was like a magical switch was thrown that turned him back into a parakeet! As soon as he would go back into his quarantine room he would go right back into fear mode, unfortunately.

After a few days of letting them see each other from the safety of their own cages, we allowed Toby and Kelly to come out and inspect Kevin more closely.

Introducing parakeetsThis may not have been the best idea, but it worked well in this situation. Toby and Kelly felt like they were in control of everything and Kevin was still so thrilled to feel safe that he tried to pack the preening of several weeks into a 45 minute period. Even when the girls got a little aggressive through the bars he didn’t react back at all, which was perfect.

Finally the day came where they could all be out together. We introduced everyone in Patrick’s home office space, a room that no one wants to be in (least of all Patrick haha)! That didn’t last long, Toby and Kelly wouldn’t stay in that room, even with millet, and kept flying back to their home base. We gave up on that in short order and put Kevin out with them on top of the cages in the dining room.

introducing parakeetsIt was utterly nerve-wracking!  They were SUCH bad girls! Toby immediately chomped on his head and tried to bite his wings. Kelly kept tugging (hard) on his tail feathers any time he was in range of her beak. When the girls began working together to corner him I thought all of my worst nightmares about his assimilating into the flock were coming true!

Patrick kept reminding me that they needed to figure out whether Kevin was a threat to them, and also to put him in his place and make sure he knew that they were top dogs. Kevin was perfection, no matter what they did the first day he didn’t react at all, just tried to observe them. He quickly realized that he couldn’t put his back to either of them and stood at the corner of one of the cages watching. He was still quite delighted to be out with them, even if it looked to me like a miserable time!

Toby got scolded several times for exceedingly ungracious behavior, and when we put them all in their homes for the evening Patrick and I couldn’t quite sort out whether we felt it went well or horribly!

The next day we decided to move Kevin’s quarantine cage into the bird area so they could observe each other at all times. They came out all together again and it did go better, although there was still a lot more violence than I would have liked I could see that they were testing him. If provoked, Kevin would make a small show of fronting back, but not actually fight, it’s awesome.

For his part, even if he had to watch his back, the transformation in Kevin was incredible! He was making sweet noises and flock calling, moving around, preening, and acting like the lovely guy we picked out at the pet store.

Every subsequent day has been even better, they still treat him a little like an outsider to their girl club, but Toby and Kelly have accepted his presence and don’t try to pull his feathers out (as much). Kevin is a fantastic addition to the flock and we couldn’t be happier with his attitude and his willingness to go with the flow. He and Kelly should be combining households soon and I think it’s going to be great for both of them.

introducing parakeetsIt’s a relief to have gotten through the initial introductions with no bloodshed! I’m excited for Kevin to get his flight feathers back so that they can fly together, and for he and Kelly to be roommates, which I hope will be good for both of them.

A minor emergency for which I was not prepared – heat loss

I came home from work one evening last week and immediately noticed something felt off.  Somehow it seemed quieter than it has this winter and weirdly still. Patrick was working from home that day and I asked him right away if it seemed odd to him. He hadn’t noticed anything, but as I moved into the bedroom to get changed out of my work clothes I knew it felt chillier than usual. Checking the thermostat I saw that although it was set to 69, it was only 68 in the house and the heat was definitely not on to rectify. Not only did fixing the issue become a top priority, but also keeping the parakeets warm knowing the house was going to get colder.

Admitting that I let something slide is a little difficult for me, but here’s the thing, I had considered two possible system failures. One, the power goes out, but in spring summer or fall, in which case I have my Power Failure Lights and I’m ready to get the budgies safely back in their cages to ride it out. Two, there’s a major storm and the power and heat are both out, in which case we decamp to my mom’s house because they have this glorious Generac Generator that runs everything.

I felt pretty unprepared for just the heat going out on its own, which is not really enough of an emergency to deal with the hassle of moving all of the birds, especially with Kevin in quarantine. The most embarrassing part is that even though I tell people all the time that a Heating Pad is an essential part of a parakeet first aid kit, I don’t even own one myself! I know, that’s seriously just horrible and I shouldn’t even admit it. I’m ordering one today, swear.

On the plus side, Kevin already had a K&H Snuggle Up Bird Warmer in his cage because we were worried about him getting cold. I love this bird warmer, this is the second winter we’ve used it and have had zero issues. It’s just consistently warm. Similarly, Kelly has the K&H Thermo-Perch , which I also do not hesitate to endorse and have found to be very safe and reliable for the second winter running. Toby is terrified to sit on the heated perch, but I’ve caught Kelly there on several occasions. Just make sure to get the textured version, the smooth one makes it very difficult for parakeets to get traction.

I quickly rang up the furnace people and they had a technician deployed right away, which was great, although I don’t love the after hours fees so much! We put Toby and Kelly both in Kelly’s cage, which is cause for a ton of squabbling but in a pinch I figured they could help warm each other up.  Both cages were covered with whatever blankets we had around the house. I don’t cover at night because Toby has night frights and doesn’t tolerate being covered anyway. In general, we find that they sleep perfectly well uncovered, and typically I don’t have to worry about drafts so there’s no concern there. Keeping the heat at a steady 69 has worked very well for us for a few winters now.

Kevin keeping warm while the heat is outThe furnace guy showed up in about an hour and quickly diagnosed the issue as a broken thermostat, which I wouldn’t have even considered as an option! By the time he got the heat going again we had dropped down to 64 and I was so grateful to have it resolved quickly that I decided not to have a heart attack over the unexpected expense so close to Christmas.

No one was any the worse for wear, and as the repair man was leaving my mom called to tell me she was about to bring over her EdenPURE Heater. Obviously I should both always call my mom before a repair man and buy my own space heater.

I got really lucky this time that I knew the furnace wasn’t working right after it happened, and that the repair man was able to come out so quickly. If we were in the middle of a snow or ice storm I couldn’t always expect that quick resolution. Not to mention what would happen if they had to order a part. Without beating myself up too much, I need to take this as a warning to be better prepared.