All of the directions that follow use just push together construction. You can use PVC glue in the joints if desired, just be sure to use outdoors, away from the birds, as fumes are toxic. Once cured, however, the glue is safe.All fittings are of push on variety, that is, smooth inside, not with threads.
Thanks to John Carpenter for these instructions! Large suction cups can be found at large craft stores. I bought ones that hold up to 7 lbs each.
Rueben is Adrian’s caique
A pilot hole is a hole that is smaller than that which you will be screwing into it.
Perches & playstands
Perches & Playstands
A Parrot Enrichment Class
Enrichment means, “to encourage species specific and
appropriate behaviors in captivity.”
A perch; a roost for a bird, an elevated place for
resting or sitting, a position that is secure,
advantageous, or prominent.
So let’s think beyond the wooden dowel!
Since most parrots do not lie down, and many of our companion
parrots do not spend much, if any, time flying from place to
place, it is probable they spend 99% of their lives standing on
Due to the design of a parrots foot, pressure points can develop
from standing on improper perches, such as plastic perches or
sandpaper covered perches or of having perches of all the same
diameter. The resulting inflammation is commonly known as
Bumblefoot. If not treated, infection can spread to the bone,
resulting in the loss to toes or feet, or if spread to the blood, can
result in death.
Improper perching options can, over time lead to
crippling arthritis, and weakened joints and muscles.
For optimum health, an assortment of perching
options should be provided, varying in size, texture
You can purchase perches can be made from a
wide variety of material. The most popular being
wood, rope, and cement. You can also find
perches made from stone, crushed seashells,
leather and PVC. (We’ll learn how to make some of our own latter.)
Extra care should be taken when selecting and
placing perches for birds with foot damages,
injuries or deformities.
More textural perches, or perches with a
smaller diameter are easier to grip.
As a personal request, if you are caring for a bird with
any foot issues, please consider not clipping their
wings. They need the extra balance and stability, to feel
safe and secure..
Larger, flatter surfaces that require less
balancing, can allow a bird to rest easier.
Most of us have heard that the “correct” size
perch for your parrot is one that the birds foot
encircles ¾ the diameter of.
But for optimum foot health, you should have a
variety of diameters, from one that your
parrot’s foot will completely encircle, or even
have her back and front toes overlap, to one
where her foot is completely flat.
Perch Types & Placement
Most parrots will choose the highest perch in
their cage to sleep on. So for this perch you
want to choose something soft and
comfortable. Choose a rope perch, a soft wood,
like apple or willow, or a fabric wrapped perch.
Grooming perches help your parrot keep her
toenails and beak from becoming overgrown.
These perches can be made from concrete, stone,
crushed seashells, pumas, or texturized minerals.
A good location for a grooming perch is in front of
a food bowl.
Do not use sandpaper covered perches.
If you have a bird who you are having difficulties getting
to step up from inside their cage, try this.
Mount a small perch to the inside of your bird’s door.
With the door closed, target train your bird to come and
stand on that perch.
Then gradually open the door,
rewarding the bird for staying
on this perch. Once the door is
fully open, the bird is no longer
“inside” the cage, and may
step up much more easily
If you are not comfortable offering the bird your hand,
and want to teach her to step onto a hand held perch
instead, match the hand held perch to the one you
mount on to the inside of door, and the transition will be
a simpler one.
Both perches are made from a single branch that was cut in two.
Perches that move, such as swings, boings, atoms, non wired
ropes, require extra balance and provide exercise for your
parrot’s ankles and knees.
Sisal, Jute, Hemp, Manila, Poly and Cotton are
some of the types of rope available for making
Wired Cotton and Sisal ropes, are rigid and hold
their shape. These are readily available for
Unwired ropes can be strung from one side of a
cage to the other, hung from the ceiling, used
to from a tightrope bridge from cage to
playstand, or woven into a climbing net.
Safety note: Always check ropes daily and cut off and frayed
strings that your bird can become entangled in.
Baskets & Wreathes
The simplest of all homemade perches are natural
(unvarnished) baskets or wreathes made from wicker,
willow or grapevine.
These can be purchased new from most craft stores or
found at bargain prices at thrift stores or yard sales.
They can be hung from the ceiling, tied to the side of a
cage or playstand. A basket with a sturdy handle can be
used as a portable perch with it’s own built in toy
Pine and Fir are readily available in a variety of
sizes, can be found at any lumber yard or home
improvement store, are inexpensive, and easy to
For large birds who enjoying chewing their perches,
2x4s can be used as a simple inexpensive perch
Platforms can be constructed with 2x6 or 2x8,
giving a flat surface for your bird to stretch out her
Never use pressure treated wood, plywood,
pressed board, or oak.
This 1x6 board is BeBe’s favorite perch (and one of her favorite chewing toys too!)
Natural branches provide and endless variety of
shapes, diameters and textures that enhance
the health of your parrot’s feet.
Placing branches at unusual angles can provide
climbing and balancing exercise.
Chewing and stripping bark off of natural
branch perches provide additional enrichment
and nutritional benefits.
Some Bird Safe Varieties
Ash, Apple, Aspen, Bamboo, Beech, Birch,
Butterfly Bush, Cottonwood, Crabapple,
Dogwood, Grapevine, Lilac, Magnolia,
Mulberry, Pear, Poplar, Sassafras, Sweet Gum,
Sycamore, Viburnum, Willow
Be sure to use only wood from safe sources, that are free from
any chemicals, herbicides, or pesticides.
For smaller branches, wreathes or baskets, you can
run them through the dishwasher, using a non toxic
detergent such as Oxy-Clean.
For larger branches, baskets or wreathes, soak &
scrub thoroughly with 3 parts warm water and 1
part white vinegar, and a few drops of organic
non-toxic soap. Rinse well.
Set in the sun to dry.
Smaller branches can be wedged between cage
bars, or the ends split and slipped around a
bar, or zip tied in place.
Larger branches will need to be notched on the
ends with a saw, or fitted with hanger bolts.
To calculate the length of a perch to be notched,
measure to the outside of the cage bars, and add
Use your choice of saw, hand, table, band or jig, to
cut a slot slightly wider than the cage bars, and
an inch to inch and a half long. Or leave the
center of the branch slightly narrower than the
space between two of the bars and cut away the
Some times you will only need to notch the thicker
end of the branch, and the thinner end can be
wedged between bars or zip tied into place.
Take care, if notching both ends, that you have the
notches going in the same direction.
A hanger bolt is threaded on both ends, one side
looks like a screw, the other side a bolt.
Collect an assortment of bird safe branches,
hanger bolts, cap nut, washers, wing nuts
drill and wrench.
Drill a pilot hole into the end of a branch.
Screw cap nut onto hanger bolt.
Using wrench, screw hanger bolt into
branch up to center of bolt, the blank space
between the threads.
Remove cap nut.
Using your choice
of washers, and a
wing nut install in
A slice across a thicker branch can
be used to make a natural platform.
Again you need a drill, wrench,
hanger bolt, wing nut, cap nut, and
your choice of washers.
Drill a pilot hole.
Screw hanger bolt into the wood
Hang in the cage, using your choice
of washers and wing nut.
If small cracks develop as the wood dries, you can fill these with elmers glue.
A larger platform can be made using a
piece of 2x6 or 2x8.
(You can have pieces cut to size at your
local Home Improvement store)
Lightly sand any rough edges.
Hold you section of wood up to the
cage bars and mark where you want to
place hanger bolts, you will need two
for this project.
Drill pilot holes.
Screw in bolts.
Place in desired location using your
choice of washers.
Every bird should have
some type of shower
(We all know how essential
regular showers are to our bird’s
Tabletop or floor
perches are great
to have, and let
your bird know
that it’s learning
PVC training perches can be
made in a size to fit any bird.
Perches Are Not Just For Inside Cages
Consider adding perches to the outside of your
bird’s cage, or hanging from the ceiling above or
beside her cage. Expanding her available play area
without an increase in floor space used.
household items, like
this step stool can be
turned into a
playstand. This would
be great to take with
you when you and your
parrot go to visit a
A Toddler’s toy stroller turned
into portable play area.
By Lucy Egloff
Here’s PeeWee in
Tree, which is
simply a branch
of a butterfly
bush in a clay
pot filled with
(No tools required!)
PVC pipe and fittings can be found in the plumbing
department of most hardware stores.
It is inexpensive and very easy to work with.
It’s water proof nature makes it ideal for use in wet
areas, such as showers, and easy to clean.
The surface should be sanded or covered, with
rope, twine or vet wrap, to provide better grip.
There is also a flexible ribbed PVC that is used as
electrical conduit, that comes in ½” and ¾” sizes,
so it can be used in conjunction with the standard
Folding PVC Stand
This stand can be used as a training perch, a shower perch,
or a travel perch, or small playstand. It folds flat when not in
The following directions can be adapted to fit your own
You will need 10 ft+ of pvc pipe in the
diameter of your choice.
6 or 8 pvc tees, depending on design
6 caps, or 4 caps and 2 bends (90
PVC cutter (buy a good one, it’s worth
Cut four 7” sections of pvc.
Push one section into each
side of a tee. Push a cap on
each of the remaining
Cut two 2” sections, push
into the top of the tees.
This forms the feet.
Cut two 12” sections. With
the first section add tee to
each end. Push onto top of
feet. This forms bottom
Cut two 30”+ (but identical length)
leg sections, push into remaining
openings in tees in bottom brace.
Add tees (or bends) to each end of
the remaining 12” previsouly cut
section. Push onto top of legs.
Cut two 2”+ pieces, push into last
ends to tees, cap.
Sand or wrap the perching surface
Suction Cup Shower Perch
(This perch can also be placed on a
2 ½ feet + of PVC (½” or ¾”)
1 PVC cross
1 bend (90 degree)
3 Large suction cups
PVC cutter (buy a good one, it’s
Thank you to John Carpenter for showing me how to make this perch!
Using Drimmel tool, cut a groove into
three of the caps.
Slide suction cups into the groove.
Cut three 6” sections of pvc. Push three
section into the cross, and push caps on
Cut a 1 ½ ” section of pvc, push into cross.
Cut one 6-9” section of pvc, place cap on
one end, and push other end into bend.
Push bend onto 1 ½” section.
Sand or wrap perching surface as desired.
*If caps with suctions cup do not fit extremely snuggly, I
recommend using PVC glue on them.
Make sure to use this glue only in a well ventilated area,
away from the birds, for it’s fumes are toxic. Allow to
cure for at least 24 hours. Once cured it is completely
Roll of ribbed PVC electrical conduit (½” or ¾”)
(Carlon Flex-Plus Blue Electrical Nonmetallic Tubing)
6 PVC crosses, size to match conduit
Stainless screw eye(s) 1 for hanging, optional additional
screw eyes for hanging toys.
Your choice of hanging material, such as plastic chain.
(buy a good one, it’s worth it!)
Cut pvc into 12 equal length pieces,
12 ½” for ½”
16 ½” for ¾”
Drill a pilot hole in the center of one
of the crosses, screw in eyescrew for
hanging. If using additional eyescrews
for hanging toys, do those now too.
Push (hard) the ends of two sections
of pvc into two oppisite sides of first
cross. You will notice that the pvc
does not go all the way into the
center of the cross.
Add crosses to the
other ends of these
two first sections of
pvc, then two more
sections of pvc to
those crosses, then
add the fourth cross to form a complete circle.
Form a semi circles with a cross and two pvc
sections, make two.
Add one semi circle to
Add the second semi
circle to the opposite side
of the circle.
Insert remaining pvc
sections into crosses.
For additional PVC stand ideas and instructions,
see the book,
Parrot –Toys & Play Areas,
by Carol D’Arezzo &
A few years ago, our macaw, Trixie, began laying
across her water bowl to sleep at night. This
concerned me because she was damp all
night, started wearing off the feathers across
her chest, and was obviously uncomfortable,
because we would hear her whining during
I remembered a “hammock” that my friend
Susan had made for her macaw, Gracie.
I’ve adapted Susan’s idea to make a more stable
platform, that bolts to the side of the cage, and makes
a secure spot to lay down and sleep.
Trixie says everybirdie deserves a bed of her own.
(2)2 ½” bolts
Drill & Staple Gun
Place Canvas frame up to cage bars and
mark where you want to place bolts.
Drill holes that will allow bolt to fit
Push Bolts into holes.
Cut 2 pieces of fleece. One large enough to
wrap around frame and overlap the edges,
the second slightly smaller than the outside
edge of the frame.
Wrap canvas frame, mitering corners (like
wrapping a present) and stapling as you go.
Push bolts so that you can see where they
are, and cut a tiny hole.
Push bolts all the way through.
Run glue around the backside edge of
Place smaller section of fleece to cover
the back (and staples). Press firmly into
the glue. Check to make sure that all
edges are glued down. Allow to dry
Using your choice of washes mount in
For Questions or Comments contact Laura at
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more fantastic perching and playstand ideas.