complete guide to wood perches for birds

Complete guide to DIY wood perches for birds.

It's important to provide appropriate perches that promote foot health and comfort for our feathered friends. With this complete guide, DIY wood perches will help with build perches for your parrots.

DIY wood perches for birds

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Can I use dowels for DIY Wood perches?

Dowels, which are smooth and uniform in diameter, can indeed be problematic for parrots' feet. They can cause sores and discomfort because parrots have to grip them tightly instead of naturally flexing their feet on branch-like perches. It's advisable to choose perches with varying diameters to mimic the natural environment of wild birds and provide a range of surfaces for their feet.

Are cement or sanded perches safe to use for birds?

Cement or sanded perches, although commonly available, can also contribute to foot issues in parrots. They may cause excessive wear on the feet and lead to discomfort or injuries. If a parrot tends to chew on the perch, it can further exacerbate the problem because of the materials used to make these types of perches. Therefore, it's recommended to avoid using cement or sanded perches.

What types of DIY wood perches should I use?

Using different types of wood perches is a good approach to provide diversity and avoid potential foot problems. Parrots benefit from having perches of various sizes, thicknesses, and hardnesses, as this more closely resembles their natural environment. By incorporating a variety of wood types, you can ensure that the surfaces are not excessively smooth, as is the case with manzanita perches.

What size should I use for DIY wood perches?

Considering the size of the perch is essential too. Perches labeled as "small" may not always be suitable for small birds, as individual parrot foot size and shape can vary. It's best to observe your parrot's feet and choose perches that offer a comfortable and secure grip. Opting for thicker and larger diameters generally provides a more stable perch for parrots.

guide for sizing DIY wood perches
(Image Source: Pam Bird)
Use this image only as a guide because your bird may have different preference especially, if your bird is disabled. 


What are other types of DIY bird perches? 

In addition to traditional wooden perches, rope perches can be a good alternative. They offer a different texture and flexibility, which can be beneficial for foot exercise and comfort. Just ensure that the rope is safe for the bird and doesn't unravel easily, as loose threads can pose a hazard.

Can I use flat perches for my pet bird?

Lastly, flat perches, available in various sizes and shapes, can also be a suitable option to include in a parrot's cage. They provide a different surface for the feet and can help prevent pressure sores that may occur from constantly gripping rounded perches. For more information about flat perches, read our article, "Benefits of bird flat perches." 

Overall, the key is to offer a variety of perch options that mimic the natural environment, consider the size and comfort of your parrot's feet, and avoid perches that are excessively smooth or abrasive. Regularly monitoring your parrot's feet for any signs of irritation or sores is also important, as it allows you to make necessary adjustments to their perching arrangements. Learning how to DIY wood perches will allow you freedom to make adjustments, specifically for your parrot's need.

 

different bird wood perches  DIY wood perches

DIY Wood perches for birds

First, we must harvest, dry, and sanitize wood branches before adding the hardware.

I) When selecting wood for making perches, it's important to choose safe and non-toxic options. Here is a list of commonly used safe wood types for DIY wood perches project:

Acacia, Alder, Almond, Apple, Arbutus, Ash, Aspen, Bamboo, Beech, Birch, Bottle Brush, Citrus, Cottonwood, Crabapple, Dogwood, Elm, , Fig Species, Fir, Mulberry, Ginkgo, Grape Vines, Grape Palm, Guava, Hackberry, Hawthorn, Hazelnut, Hibiscus, Hickory, Horse Apple, Ironwood, Larch, Lilac, Liquidambar, Madrona, Magnolia, Manzanita, Maple, Mediterranean Laurel, Mesquite (remove thorns), Mimosa, Mulberry, Norfolk Island Pine, Nut (except Chestnut & Oak), Palm, Papaya, Pear, Pecan, Pine, Plum, Poplar, Ribbonwood, Rose, Sassafras, Spruce, Sweet Gum, Sycamore, Thurlow, Tree fern, Umbrella tree, Vine Maple, Walnut (Black Walnut may be dangerous), Willow (Goat, Pussy & Weeping)

* there may be additional wood on the safe list. Please double check before proceeding with your DIY wood perches. 

 

II) When cutting the selected wood branches to size for your DIY wood perches project, you have the flexibility to customize them according to your preference and the needs of your birds. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  1. Length: The length of the perch can vary depending on the size of your bird and the available space in their enclosure. For small birds like finches or canaries, a perch length of around 6-8 inches may be suitable. Larger birds like parrots may require longer perches, ranging from 10-18 inches or more. Consider providing a variety of perch lengths to accommodate different perching preferences and promote foot health.

  2. Diameter: Birds' feet are designed to grip onto different-sized branches, so it's beneficial to offer perches of varying diameters. This helps exercise their feet and prevents pressure sores. As a general guideline, aim for perch diameters ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 inches. You can use different branches or sand down the wood to achieve the desired diameter when DIY wood perches.

  3. Texture: In addition to varying diameters, incorporating different textures on the perches can be beneficial for your birds. Leave the natural bark intact on some branches, as it provides a rougher surface for birds to grip. Sand other branches to create smoother surfaces. The combination of rough and smooth perches can help maintain healthy feet and a great way to customize your DIY wood perches.

 

III) Allowing the wood branches to dry completely is an essential step in preparing them for use as perches. The drying process helps to remove moisture and prevent the growth of mold or fungi. The duration of drying time can vary depending on factors such as the thickness of the wood and the type of wood being used. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Thickness: Thicker branches will naturally take longer to dry than thinner ones. The moisture content within the wood needs to evaporate, and thicker branches will retain moisture for a longer period. As a rough estimate, you can expect the drying process to take several months for branches with a thickness of 1-2 inches or more.

  2. Type of wood: Different types of wood have varying moisture content and drying characteristics. Softer woods, such as pine or cedar, tend to dry more quickly than denser hardwoods like oak or maple. The density and porosity of the wood will influence the drying time. As a general guideline, allowing the wood to dry for 2-3 months should be sufficient for most types of wood.

To determine if the wood is fully dried, you can check its moisture content. One way to do this is by using a moisture meter, a handheld device that measures the moisture levels within the wood. Another method is to observe the wood for any signs of moisture, such as dampness or greenish color. Fully dried wood should feel lightweight, solid, and free from any signs of moisture.

Keep in mind that the drying time can vary, and it's important to assess each branch individually. Rushing the drying process may lead to potential issues, such as cracking, fungal growth, or warping of the wood. Patience is key to ensure the safety and longevity when DIY wood perches.

 

IV) Baking the dried wood branches in the oven at a low temperature can be an additional step to further sanitize and eliminate any potential organisms that may be present. Here's a suggested approach for baking the branches:

  1. Preheat the oven: Set the oven to a low temperature of around 175°F (80°C). It's important not to use a higher temperature to prevent the wood from burning or becoming excessively dry.

  2. Prepare the branches: Ensure that the wood branches are clean, dry, and free from any loose bark or debris. Trim them to the desired size if necessary.

  3. Place the branches in the oven: Arrange the branches on a baking sheet or oven-safe tray, making sure they are spread out and not touching each other. This allows for even heating and ensures that all surfaces are exposed to the heat.

  4. Monitor the baking process: Keep a close eye on the branches while they are in the oven. Set a timer for around 30 minutes as a starting point, but the actual baking time may vary depending on the thickness and moisture content of the wood. Check the branches periodically to prevent them from burning.

  5. Test for doneness: To ensure that the branches are adequately sanitized, you can use a meat thermometer to check their internal temperature. Aim for a temperature of around 160°F (71°C) to ensure that any potential organisms have been effectively killed.

  6. Cool and inspect: Once the branches have been baked, allow them to cool completely before handling. Inspect them for any signs of damage or burning. If any branches appear burned or compromised, discard them and use only the ones that are in good condition.

Please note that while baking can help eliminate surface contaminants, it may not penetrate deep into the wood. Therefore, it's still important to regularly inspect and clean the perches to ensure their ongoing hygiene and safety for your birds. 

 

V) If you don't have access to an oven or if the branches are too large to fit inside, you can use alternative methods to sanitize the wood branches. Vinegar or a bleach solution can be effective in killing potential organisms. Here's how you can proceed:

  1. Prepare the solution: For vinegar, mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. If using a bleach solution, mix 1 part bleach with 10 parts water. Ensure proper ventilation when working with bleach and follow safety instructions on the bleach bottle.

  2. Spray the branches: Thoroughly spray the wood branches with vinegar or bleach solution, making sure to cover all surfaces. The solution will help kill any bacteria, fungi, or other organisms present on the branches.

  3. Let them dry in the sun: Place the sprayed branches in a well-ventilated area with direct sunlight. The sun's heat and UV rays will aid in drying and further sanitizing the wood. It's essential to ensure that the branches are adequately supported and elevated to prevent contact with the ground or any potentially contaminated surfaces.

  4. Monitor the drying process: Regularly check the branches to ensure they are drying properly. The time required for drying will depend on factors such as the thickness of the branches, local weather conditions, and the moisture content of the wood. It may take several days to a few weeks for the branches to dry completely.

  5. Inspect and use: Once the branches are fully dry, inspect them for any signs of damage, mold, or pests. Remove any branches that appear compromised. The remaining branches can be safely used as perches for your birds.

Remember to regularly clean and inspect the perches even after they have been sanitized to maintain their hygiene and ensure a healthy environment for your birds. Store the branches in a cold, dry place and don’t use any wood branches with mold or discoloration. 

 

DIY wood perches: Attaching Hardware

diy hardware for wood perches  DIY wood perches

Stainless steel hardware is use for safety and for any perch you need one hanger bolt, two fenders, and wing nuts.

To secure the hanger bolt, you can use the two wing nut method or use a hanger bolt adaptor with your hand drill. This is popular way to securely attach perches to a cage or other structure. Here's how you can use the two wingnut method:

  1. Select the hanger bolt: A hanger bolt is a type of threaded fastener that has wood screw threads on one end and machine screw threads on the other end. Choose a hanger bolt of appropriate length, ensuring that the wood screw end is long enough to penetrate the branch securely.

  2. Prepare the branch: Determine where you want to attach the perch on the branch and mark the location. Drill a pilot hole into the branch at the marked spot. The diameter of the pilot hole should match the wood screw end of the hanger bolt.

  3. Insert the hanger bolt: To Insert the wood screw end of the hanger bolt into the pilot hole on the branch, twist two wing nuts on the machine screw ends in the opposite direction. (see image) This will allow the wing nuts to lock in place, and use the wings of the nuts to turn clockwise, ensuring the screw goes in straight and firmly into the wood (avoid this step if using the adaptor)
    two wing nut perch method  DIY wood perches
  4. Secure: Once the hanger bolt is fully inserted into the branch, twist the two wingnuts in opposite directions to loosen them. Place a washer over the machine screw end of the hanger bolt. 

  5. Attach to the cage: Position the perch against the desired location on the cage and align the machine screw end of the hanger bolt with the cage wire or other suitable attachment point. Insert the machine screw end through the wire or a hole in the cage, then place a washer and a wingnut on the outside of the cage. Tighten the wing nut securely against the cage, ensuring that the perch is stable and firmly attached.

  6. Adjust and secure: Adjust the angle and position of the perch as needed. Make sure all wingnuts are tightened securely to prevent any wobbling or movement of the perch.

This method provides a strong and adjustable attachment for perches, allowing you to easily remove or reposition them when needed. Regularly inspect the attachments and tighten the wingnuts as necessary to maintain a secure perch setup for your birds.

parrot sitting on wood perch  DIY wood perches


More Articles on DIY Bird Toys

Make your own bird wood blocks

Benefits of Flat Bird Perches

Most asked questions about bird toys

 

Author: Monika Sangar
Co-founder of Prego Dalliance Sanctuary, Artisan of PDS Parrot Shop

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PDS Blog presented by PDS Parrot Shop

Monika Sangar, the co-founder of Prego Dalliance Sanctuary, a 501c3 non-profit organization, uses these blogs to share her hands-on experience with parrots.

She is a designer and artisan at PDS Parrot Shop, and her craft can be viewed below. (click on logo)
pds logo
www.pdsparrotshop.com

PDS is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization (tax id #46-2470926) PDS parrot shop makes parrot toys to help fund our sanctuary, Prego Dalliance sanctuary, 501c3, non-profit.  www.pdsnonprofit.org 
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1 comment

Ty, for all that info. I have searched for something with all this info, now, I finally found it TY.

Marie keehl

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