The Green Cheek Conure Homepage
FAQ: Green Cheek

What kind of cage do they need?
    As a general rule, the larger the cage, the better!  Being smaller birds, green cheeks don't need huge cage, but at the same time they are active and will use all the space you can give them.  Large cockatiel cages are usually suitable.  I recommend a minimum of 16" x 16" x 18", but it does depend on how much time the bird will be spending in the cage.  A bird that just sleeps in the cage can be housed in a smaller one, while birds that spend much of the day in their will need some space.
    Square or rectangular cages are better than round ones as a rule.  They are a better use of space, and some birds are uncomfortable in round cages.
    Galvanized wire cages present a danger because they are coated in zinc, which can cause metal poisoning.  Although commonly and successfully used quite often (especially by breeders), I would recommend avoiding them on general principle.  They are also not too attractive to look at!
    A cage should be easy to clean.  This is highly important!  Even the little things that don't look important when browsing in the pet shop can become a big deal when you have to clean the cage several times a week for years on end.  Check to make sure the tray slides in and out easily, and look for places where dirt and droppings might accumulate.  Cages with skirts are a big help when trying to keep the mess contained!
    Be willing to spend some money on the cage.  They are expensive, but it will be your bird's home, hopefully for many years.

Where should I put the cage?
    There are a few things to consider when choosing a spot to place the cage.  First, don't place it directly in front of a window, heating vent or another area that can expect drastic changes in temperature.
    Also don't place the cage right near a door or around a corner where humans will "appear" to the bird unexpectedly - this can be a little startling!
    You want to have the cage in an area that will get some activity.  A lot of activity is okay, but it should be quiet for part of the day so the bird can rest.  The living room, family room or den fits the bill in many households.  Avoid placing the bird in the kitchen - again, the temperature changes in the kitchen tend to be drastic, and the possibility of carbon monoxide or Teflon poisoning is highest in the kitchen.
    The cage should not be placed so that the bird will sit higher than eye-level.  It also should not be placed so low that the bird will feel uncomfortable.  Table-top height is usually just about right.

What about perches and dishes?
    I always cringe when I see a cage with nothing but plain dowel perches or, worse yet, plastic perches in the cage.  Remember that the bird sits on it's perches nearly all day, everyday - the least you can do is provide a comfortable and secure gripping surface!  By far the ideal perch is the one nature started out with - tree branches.  They're free, too!  Some trees are poisonous, but most are quite safe, including willow, maple, dogwood, birch, evergreens, citrus fruit trees, sassafras, alder and several more.  Avoid taking branches from trees near a busy road, as the fumes from passing cars can leak into the wood.  Also, of course, avoid branches that may have been sprayed with pesticide.  They should be dead, dry, and not rotting.  Branches can be disinfected by baking them in the oven.  The bark should be left on - most birds love to chew it off!
    Other perches can be used as well, pet stores sell a variety, including manzanita and cactus wood perches, rope perches, and cement perches.  Cement perches can be useful in keeping beaks and nails trimmed, but they should not be the only surface available in the cage and they should not be the main perch where the bird likes to sleep.
    When it comes to dishes, most cages come with dishes that are perfectly suitable.  Others come with cheap plastic ones, or dishes that eventually break.  When buying dishes seperately from the cage, I usually buy stainless steel dishes.  They're unchewable, easy to clean and unbreakable.  I've been using some of mine for almost the entire time I've had birds, and all they have is a few dents.

And how about toys?
    Most green cheeks love toys, and these should always be available.  Each bird will have his own individual toy preferences, but there are some things to look for and some to avoid.  First, inspect every toy before purchase for possible safety hazards.  Birds can get their beaks caught in the little holes in jingle bells or in chain with very small links.  Rope toys can present a danger once the rope gets unraveled (as it almost invariably will) - it's easy for a bird to get tangled in this.  Many birds like rope toys, you just need to keep an eye on them and trim back any unraveling rope.  Many toys use galvanized wire to string beads on, which, if it's chewed on, could cause zinc poisoning.  There are many other possible safety hazards as well - you really just need to keep an eye out!
    As a general rule, buy toys which are sized for your bird.  In particular, don't buy toys that are intended for smaller birds.  For green cheeks, toys that are suitable for cockatiels through small Amazons are just about right.  They will use toys that are larger than those intended for cockatiels, because they're rougher players than cockatiels!
    Beyond that, buy a variety of toys and see which your bird likes.  Remember that toys are intended to be destroyed - they aren't a one-time purchase thing, you'll have to replace them continually.

What about playgyms, and T-stands, and other bird accesories?
    A good playgym or stand can be very useful.  It gives you a place to set the bird when he's out of the cage but you don't want him on you.  It also gives the bird another area to play on.  There's a few things to look for in a playgym - first, if it has several perches, will the bird be able to easily get from perch to perch?  So many manufacturers seem to think that our birds can fly from perch to perch!  Also, there should be at least one place to hang a toy or two.  If the bird will be spending a lot of time on the stand, then there should be food and water dishes.  Also consider how easily it can be cleaned - most don't have convenient pull-out trays like the cages do!

Do green cheeks need a nestbox or other place to sleep in at night?
    Like most conures, green cheeks will sleep in their nesting area all year round.  That is true for wild birds and breeding birds - what about our pet birds?  Many owners have commented on the fact that their birds sleep on the floor of the cage, sometimes even under the newspaper.  Conures naturally look for a dark, quiet place to sleep.  Products like Happy Huts can be a solution.  These are just cloth tubes hung from the top of the cage that the bird can enter.  Others look more like tents.  Young birds often take to these right away, but older birds may be wary of them.  Give them time, they may figure it out eventually.
    "Bedrooms" like this aren't necessary, but many birds enjoy them.  If your bird doesn't like them but still seems to want a dark place to sleep every night, covering the cage may help.

Back to the FAQ | Next Section

This page is copyright © 1998-2000 Lara deVries