Stuff You SHOULD Worry About

Richard HorvitzAug 3, '18

This is an article written by Wayne Gagne, also found on his website.


In 1999, when I first built this site, one thing became apparent immediately. It seemed like most of the parrot owners I dealt with and heard from we're extremely nervous about their birds. Many had fallen into the BETTER SAFE THEN SORRY mindset, and lived their lives in fear for the safety of their birds. Unfortunately, these fears we're fostered by people and businesses with agendas, and those agendas we're good for business. As I got more involved with my clients, I came to the realization that stuff they SHOULD worry about they didn't even know about, and that's the purpose of this article. Note. If you look at the other articles on this page, you'll realize I'm not a SKY IS FALLING person. However, these are things you should know about. So, here goes.

Wing Nuts.

Virtually every parrot, right now, has Wing Nuts in his cage. These are used to attach in-cage perches, toys, almost anything to your birds cage. They are easy to install, so you as a parrot owner like them. However, they are dangerous for your bird, here's why.

Being able to easily install them makes them also possible for your bird to remove them, especially medium and large birds. The way there made also makes them interesting for your bird, so they do try to remove them, it's in their nature. Here's the problem with them.

I had a client who found their Yellow on the floor of his cage, deceased, with his swing on top of him. He was playing on top of his cage and loosened the wing nut holding the swing. Apparently, he tried to climb on his swing, and it fell with him underneath it. I also had a client who's bird loosened the wing nut holding an in-cage perch, and lost a toe when it got caught between the perch and cage. These are only 2 examples, I have more, but here's the problem. The solution here is simple, yet the parrot industry refuses to address this issue.

Nylon Insert Lock Nuts.

Instead of using Wing Nuts, I use Lock Nuts. Here's how they work. If you look at the pic on the left, you'll notice the nylon ring inside the top of the nut. When tightened with a wrench, that nylon ring grips the stud and your bird can't remove it. It's just that simple. They are more difficult to install for us, but safe for your bird. You can change Wing Nuts to Lock Nuts in a snap. They're available is standard sizes, 3/8", 5/16" and 1/4" are the sizes I use, costs pennies, and are available at most home and hardware store.

Snap key rings.

You know what these are, you might have your keys on one of these. They're great for Keys, however, here's the problem using these around your bird.

Parrots love to pry open things. So, they pry these open with their beaks, and investigate with their tongues. If it snaps shut with their tongue in it, it could cause serious injury or worse. These and other types of snap rings, key rings, belt hooks, etc, should not be used around parrots. Anything that snaps shut can be dangerous for birds. Use Quik Links, not any kind of snap rings.


Manzanita can cause a serious foot problem called Slippery Foot. It's extremely hard, but isn't actually smooth, it's more like a fine sandpaper. Over time, it actually removes and smoothes the bottom of your birds feet, and they end up like bald tires on your car. Once that happens, perching becomes extremely difficult and uncomfortable. Birds regularly fall off Manzanita perches, especially when sleeping. Sandblasting doesn't matter, this stuff is just too hard, harder then your birds feet. Manzanita should not be used for birds, period.

Java Wood.

This stuff is fairly new, and is being distributed by a large cage manufacturer. Java wood is really smooth and slippery. In order for your parrot to perch, the branches need to be fairly thin so your parrot can wrap his feet around it and hold on. That Holding On isn't natural, and causes foot problems, cramping, etc. Climbing and playing isn't comfortable, so birds generally find a spot and sit there, the equivalent to your kids playing video games.

PVC and space age materials.

Plastic is plastic, no matter what you do to it, and your bird isn't going to like it because it's slippery and hard to stand on. It'll be attractive to you, easy to clean, cheap, indestructible, but a total waste of money, and bad for your bird.


Pellets are great for the manufacturer, distributor, retailer and owner, bad for your parrot. Here's why.

1. Pellets are dry. Birds have no saliva. They can't eat Pellets without dunking them in water. They should be soft and moist like dried fruit. They aren't though, because being dry extends shelf life. 2. Birds have no staple diets, they eat whatever's ripe, blooming or blossoming. Forcing them to eat the same thing day after day is boring and completely unnatural. Would you eat the same thing every day, all day.


Today's birds are different then birds 20+ years ago, yet most of you are treating them exactly like we did wild caught parrots in the past. NOTHING is more detrimental to their long term physical and mental health, and your relationship with your parrot then caging them for long periods of time. I know your told it's for THEIR SAFETY but that's garbage. It's for the cage companies benefit, not yours or your birds. Since 1992, I've been building play gyms that your bird would love so much, they stay there because they want to. Most of you will never try them, and that really frustrates me. Getting your bird out of their cage can really improve their lives, but it can't happen if you don't make it happen. All those people telling you it can't work aren't my clients, and people shouldn't talk about things they know nothing about. For more info about cages, read THE TRUTH ABOUT CAGES on this page.

Cages with play tops.

These are slightly better, but in your birds mind, he's in the tree above his nest, guarding his nest. Most are totally boring and not comfortable at all.

Leg Bands.

These are used to identify specific birds, hatch dates and other info. However, here's the problem with them.

* Believe it or not, most of these are made of 100% Zinc. If you read my page, The Zinc Boogeyman, your understand that electroplated hardware using Zinc isn't a problem because this hardware has minute amounts of Zinc, and your bird can't remove it. However, Leg Bands are 100% Zinc because Zinc is soft and malleable. That makes it perfect for use as a leg band, but also could allow your bird to ingest pieces of Zinc if chewed on. * Leg bands are dangerous. An active, playing parrot could get a leg band hung up on something protruding and that could be a real problem. * Leg bands can be a real source of irritation and discomfort. Several years ago, I was at one of my dealers when a lady brought a Grey in for grooming. The owner asked me to help, and we immediately noticed several things about this bird. First, he was completely bald except for his head. Second, his leg was red and raw around his leg band, and this leg band was extremely tight. It was obvious this bird was bothered by this band. We spoke with the owner, and she told us he messed with it constantly. It took some doing, but we we're able to remove this leg band. It seems that the owner had spent a small fortune trying to find out why this bird was in so much stress, and she told us he had an elevated Zinc count. They had tried everything but couldn't find the source of this Zinc. Her Vet however, never thought about this ZINC leg band. I never did any follow up, but certain the Leg Band was the source of the Zinc.

My recommendation. Find out the local requirements and if possible, remove these leg bands and store them in a safe place. Put it in a plastic bag, date it and include the bird type.

Heated perches.

Some people will sell anything to make a buck. Here's the problem with these. Birds are like all other animals. As the weather changes, bodies change to acclimate to the changes in temperature. Dogs put on a winter coat, and birds put on a winter down coat. Heated perches prevent your bird from sensing the upcoming cold weather, and therefore, they don't develop a winter down coat. I live in South Florida. The COLDEST it gets here is the 40s. If I went up north in the winter, it's likely I would get sick because my body isn't adapted to cold weather. If I lived up north, and had time to adapt, it would be much easier. Your bird NEEDS to be allowed to adapt to cold weather, and heated perches prevent that. Consider this, Quaker Parrots live and thrive all over the country because they adapt to cold weather.


If your bird is PROPERLY clipped, they should flutter to the floor. They shouldn't drop like a rock, or glide across the room. Both of these conditions are a result of poor clippings. Clip 8-11 flight feathers, (those are the feathers at the ends of out stretched wings) to the next row of feathers. A properly clipped bird makes harnesses unnecessary. The first "T" stands I bought used to have Leg Chains. I consider Harnesses the 21st century version of leg chains. Most of the Harness talk on the net is coming from the manufacturers by the way.

More to come...This article will always be a work in progress. As new topics come up. I'll address them here.


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