How to Set Up a Birdcage for a Parakeet or Cockatiel

Updated on July 16, 2019
Londonlady profile image

I have owned many parakeets over the years, and I enjoy giving bird tips to others.

Setting Up a Birdcage Is Simple With These 3 Essential Items

An effective cage setup for parakeets, cockatiels, and other small birds.
An effective cage setup for parakeets, cockatiels, and other small birds. | Source

3 Main Items for Setting Up a Birdcage

It is pretty simple to set up a birdcage. If you want to set up a birdcage for parakeets, cockatiels or other small birds, then you will need at least these three basic starting supplies in addition to the cage itself.

  • Food and water holders/feeders
  • Toys
  • Perches

The kind of toys and perches, and how many you add are up to you, but just make sure you have at least these three things on hand. Keep reading for a detailed list on setting up a birdcage.

A cockatiel all settled into her new birdcage
A cockatiel all settled into her new birdcage | Source

Purchasing A Birdcage

A few important things to consider:

  1. Size - When you consider a birdcage for a parakeet or cockatiel, keep in mind what cage you purchase so it is not too small. The parakeet or cockatiel should have space to stretch their wings after all the perches, toys, and other accessories have been added inside the cage so be mindful of the dimensions of the cage when you buy and set up the birdcage.
  2. Bars - Make sure the cage has some horizontal bars so that the bird can climb easier. Vertical bars are fine too, but your bird will have a harder time trying to move about the cage. In this case, the cage above (which cost about $70.00) has horizontal bars on the sides and vertical bars in the back and the front.
  3. Feeders - some cages will come with a food and water tray such as the one above, but you can always add more feeders in since the bottom ones are not as practical as ones that hang between the cage bars.
  4. Seed Catching Tray - If the cage comes with an easy to clean plastic cage bottom, that's all the better for you, it makes cleaning up messes easier and also ensures that seeds don't make it on the floor so often.

Birdcage Perches

Vary out the texture and size of perches.
Vary out the texture and size of perches. | Source

Start With Perches

Gather up all the perches you will use to set up the birdcage and make sure that you have a couple that vary in width and texture. This ensures your bird's feet get some exercise, and the foot is not curved in only one position all day. Birds are on their feet all day, every day, for the rest of their lives, so a couple of good perches are an important feature.

Spread out the perches in the cage so that your bird can easily access their food and water bowls later and still have space to move and hop around. In my case, I keep both a parakeet and cockatiel in the same cage (which is okay as long as they do not fight) so I mounted a perch up high on the top left where only the parakeet can fit to provide a good place to sleep at night.

What the Cage Looks Like With Perches Added

Here I have added all the perches to the birdcage and ensured that both birds that will be in this cage have plenty of space.
Here I have added all the perches to the birdcage and ensured that both birds that will be in this cage have plenty of space. | Source

Birdcage Toys

A few plastic, a few wooden, and a mirror toy is a good variety to have in a birdcage. Do not place too many mirrors.
A few plastic, a few wooden, and a mirror toy is a good variety to have in a birdcage. Do not place too many mirrors. | Source

Next Add Toys to the Birdcage

The next part of setting up a birdcage is adding some toys. These can consist of:

  • Plastic hoops and balls
  • Colored, wooden toys
  • Chewable toys
  • Mirrors
  • Bells
  • Toys made of ropes

Add a few so that your birds do not get bored (3–5 toys in a cage of this size is plenty to keep a little bird entertained). Avoid cluttering the birdcage with toys as your parakeet or cockatiel will not have space to stretch or move around. Position toys so that the bird can reach them either from a perch, the bottom of the cage or while hanging on the side of the cage. Place mirrors at an appropriate height relative to the bird.

If you are placing mirrors in a cage that only has one bird, do not place more than one. Single birds can become attached to their mirror image and even begin feeding their mirror image thinking it's another bird (meaning your bird is regurgitating its food instead of getting the nutrition it needs). If you see this happening, remove the mirror for a few days from the cage or place it in a less accessible spot to the bird afterwards.

The Birdcage With Toys Added

Don't overload the cage with toys so that the birds don't have space to move around or stretch anymore.
Don't overload the cage with toys so that the birds don't have space to move around or stretch anymore. | Source

Next: Food and Water

Although my cage already came with two trays, one for food and one for water. I prefer to add two more feeders to the cage so that I know there's always food somewhere. The feeders that come with the cage make it too easy for the bird to pick up a seed, drop the hull/husk back in the tray. Then you get a layer of what looks like seeds, but is actually an empty seed husk, masking the food underneath. Birds have starved this way, so I like to eliminate that possibility by adding upright feeders to the cage as well.

Position the feeders somewhere close to a perch so your bird can easily reach them from where they are standing. Change the water out daily.

Ensure you provide a varied diet for your birds, not just a plain seed diet, which alone can cause health issues in your bird.

Adding Feeders and Water Trays to the Birdcage

Clips help secure birdcage items
Clips help secure birdcage items | Source

Securing Loose Items: Clips

After you set up the birdcage, make sure that everything is held securely in place. You don't want a perch to fall down in the middle of the night when your birds are sleeping on it.

I always use either binder clips, or some other type of clip that can hold down things that are moving too much. For example, the natural stick perch that I added needs to be held down with a clip, or else it wobbles. I also use a clip to hold down one of the extra water trays since I know my budgie likes to lift it up from one side and spill all the water out.

Final Step: Adding the Birds!

I've added some newspaper to the bottom of the cage underneath the grate to make cleaning easier, and now we're ready to put the birds in.

Don't place your birds in the middle of the cage. Hold them close to the entrance and let them explore and jump in at their own pace. Birds are weary and always cautious around new things, so allow them to adjust. In my case, the cockatiel, Duchess, jumped in right away while my parakeet, Sunny, took his time near the entrance before jumping in.

Let Your Birds Go in by Themselves into the New Birdcage

Let your birds go in by themselves. These two buddies get along well and do not fight so it is okay to keep them together.
Let your birds go in by themselves. These two buddies get along well and do not fight so it is okay to keep them together. | Source

Budgie Accommodated In His New Birdcage

Sunny, the parakeet, is already feeling at home with a nap in his new cage.
Sunny, the parakeet, is already feeling at home with a nap in his new cage. | Source

Average Prices of Birdcage Supplies

$3 - $6 per perch
$2 - $10 per feeder
$3 - $10 per toy
$25 - over $100

What Is Your Favorite Bird?

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2015 Laura Writes


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    7 months ago

    Important to stress that an all seed diet will shorten the life of a bird. Also keep in mind that pet birds deserve veterinary care; preferably with a certified avian vet.

  • EvaBella Goss profile image

    EvaBella Goss 

    9 months ago from California

    I just got a cockatiel (5 mo) 2 days ago. At first he was very quiet but sometimes he chirps once or twice. He hasn't eaten anything, not that I've seen, but I think he drank some water? Anyways he keeps pacing up and down a perch and he also has pecked at one of his feet and had sneezed I'd say about 3 times. Is he okay?

  • profile image


    3 years ago

    Can you tell me why my cockateil has not made a sound since I have had it 5 days now

  • profile image

    Shanto Riaz 

    3 years ago

    Can you tell me what is the size of your cage showed in the article??? And should I use it for a pair of cockatiel????

  • profile image

    Burnadette Grubb 

    4 years ago

    For a cockateil is there any suppliments that i should purchase for my cockateil

    Thank you in Advance.

  • Londonlady profile imageAUTHOR

    Laura Writes 

    4 years ago

    Jazzy J,

    I would actually freeze what you aren't using currently since that way the veggies will last weeks, even months without spoiling as long as they are constantly frozen. Microwaving or putting them in the oven won't really cause a big nutrient loss, rather just dehydrate the veggies of the water so you can definitely do either and be okay. For example, I feed my parakeets baby carrots but I stick them in a cup of water in the microwave first until they are nice and soft and give it to the bird like that like a quick steamed carrot.

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    Some really good information. My budgies mated and 7 eggs were laid. So far 6 have arrived and I expect the last to arrive by morning. They all look very healthy and I have been trying my best to give a varied diet, seeds, pellets, and fresh organic greens. I have 6 adults and now hopefully all these little ones will survive. My question is, since these fresh organic greens, broccoli, zucchini, squash, carrots celery, cucumbers,(in addition to egg food, foraging mix and missing link nutrients) are very costly and I discard them immediately if they look like they are turning is it possible to microwave them and use them in a dried state or even drying in the oven without them losing much of the nutrition? I realize what Mommy eats is what she feeds them so although I wasn't especially excited I certainly turned that corner once the first egg was laid..Haven't worked so hard in a long time. Daddy helps some but they have me working like a slave. LOL Please advise asap. Thanks sooo much!

  • Londonlady profile imageAUTHOR

    Laura Writes 

    5 years ago

    Yeah they can be a little messy but at least it's just over there in their little corner.

  • RonElFran profile image

    Ronald E Franklin 

    5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

    You bring back memories. I kept parakeets when I was younger, but haven't had one for years now. I think I've just gotten too lazy to expend the necessary effort to take care of it. But, I do thank you for bringing back those good memories.


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