Cages can be jails for parrots or wonderful homes.

A “cage-bound” parrot is one that has not been allowed out of their cage and now they are so used to being in their cage, that they don’t want to come out. They are too afraid.

One problem is that most cages are too small for your parrot to spread it’s wings and flap them vigorously. That’s a great exercise for young parrots that are learning to fly. Parrots that know how to fly should – at the very least – have the room to spread their wings. Sadly, that’s not always the case.

Giving your parrot time out of their cage is meant to give them time to engage, time to exercise and time to explore their world.

At my best, even though I work from home, don’t really travel and spend most of my time taking care of my parrots, I can’t give any one of my parrots a reliable amount of time every day. This is because different things come up and need to be taken care of. Sure, in general you can spend time with your parrot, maybe even several hours a day. 

Parrots live in flocks of 20 to thousands, depending on the species. There are a few species that are exceptions, but most are accustomed to being with their flock, of close enough to hear them squawking, all night and day.

For us, as people, we think of our time in bed as time that would not spent with our parrot – and it can be dangerous to our parrot to sleep with them (people accidentally roll onto them and they suffocate). However, in the wild (depending on the species) and even in captivity, I find that a lot of parrots sleep right next to their mate.

Next, we run around getting ready for work or the day. If we go to work, we’re gone all day. This isn’t fair to a parrot that can’t understand why his/her mate is gone all night and then during the day too.

Parrots fly around during the day in the wild. This means that they are actively moving around, looking for food and staying with their flock.

Staying in a cage with nothing to do might be like putting Einstein in your attic with no connection and nothing to do.

How Much Time?

A parrot’s size, species, cage limitations and individual personality should all be factored in when deciding how much time your parrot needs out. The more time you can give them, the better.

Here are some things to consider:

Small Parrots

Small parrots have faster metabolisms. While they are more likely to be able to stretch their wings in their cage, if it isn’t too small, they have a lot of energy to burn. They like flying around a lot!

Large Parrots

While larger parrots, like larger Conures or Amazons, aren’t necessarily as active, they do fly but they need larger spaces in which to fly. My Mac’Girls (Macaws) open their wings to fly and they are already half way across the room it seems! They can fly for miles in the wild. Providing that kind of space to exercise is certainly challenging, I know. Free flying your parrot may allow them the space; otherwise, it is something to take into account when you are choosing a parrot. Large parrots really need more space than most houses can provide, but at least room to spread their wings and move is important — even if they don’t fly all day long.

Cage Size

If you are able to offer your parrot an aviary that allows them to jump around or fly, they may not need the same amount of time outside of their cage that most other parrots require.

Otherwise, letting your parrot out to go to their favorite place or to fly some is important. It is also important for them to have a space in your family’s home that is a ‘family room’ where the whole ‘flock’ comes together. In other words, you may have a bedroom to sleep in that is yours, just like your parrot has a cage, but a den or living room is a room you should enjoy together. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are meant to spend all of your time paying attention to them. They don’t always pay attention to each other in the wild. It does, however, mean that you are sharing your lives together, as a flock. You are doing your thing, they are doing their’s, together.

Sure, you also want to spend some time engaging with your parrot – after all, that’s why you have a parrot. To bond with them and enjoy them. You just need to find the right balance for you both as to how much time needs to be spent engaging versus just being in the same ‘jungle!’

Individual Parrot Needs

The last factor is your parrot him or herself. Every parrot is unique. While some species are more energetic and active than others, there is also some variation within individuals of the same species.

Some parrots like to have more time and attention; others like to hang out and do their own thing. For example, my Cockatiel is not a typical Cockatiel. Generally speaking, they love to bond and be petted. However, not my LunaLove. She wants to be with me and around me, hang out on my shoulder — but not touched! If I try to pet her, she’ll give me a warning bite! She’s not the only one who is like that either. 

In other words, each parrot has it’s own characteristics and preferences. 

It is important to become aware of what your parrot needs to stay healthy and happy. I find that my parrots can accommodate my busy schedule because they have another mate of their species. It has never kept me from bonding with one or both of them, but it does add to the flock feel and, clearly, to their well-being.

Just like us, the more a parrot can be out of their cage playing, exploring and being with the flock (human and parrot) the happier and healthier they will be.

Have a questions about parrots?
As the author of “The Parrot Bliss Bond,” I love and welcome questions about having a parrot and creating one of the best experiences of your life!
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