Cage-bound Birds: When Your Parrot Does Not Leave Its Cage

In this article, I look at the reasons why some parrots become cage-bound birds and what you can do about it.

Pet birds need to be let out of their cages regularly to provide them with the activity they need.

The problem, however, occurs when your parrot refuses to leave its cage.

In case you aren’t familiar with cage-bound birds, you might find such behavior to be quite odd.

After all, why would a parrot want to stay in a cage all the time?

While such behavior isn’t normal, it’s not uncommon, either.

Birds might become cage-bound due to various reasons, which, unfortunately, are negative.

In this article, I will help you get a better understanding of why your pet parrot may have become cage-bound and what you can do about it.

Cage-bound Birds

Why Does My Bird Not Want to Leave His Cage?

Cage-bound behavior is a type of anxiety disorder in birds, usually originating from neglect and the lack of socialization.

Birds develop this issue when they aren’t let out of the cage frequently enough or provided with adequate social interaction.

At some point, these birds grow afraid of the world outside the cage. They consider the cage to be a safe sanctuary and refuse to leave it.

They might even turn aggressive and attack anyone trying to remove them from the cage.

Such behavior is particularly common among rescue birds for obvious reasons.

If you recently got a new parrot and it turned out to be cage-bound, there’s a good chance that it suffered from neglect at the hands of its previous owner.

How to Get a Bird Out of Its Cage?

So, let’s figure out how you can get a cage-bound bird out of its cage. First and foremost, do not rush and try to get the bird out by force.

It would not only cause your feathered friend a lot of stress, but the bird might also fight back aggressively.

The bird must be allowed to come out at its own pace. Here are a few potential solutions that you may try.

Most often, birds become cage bound due to fear, emanating from cruelty and abuse

Place the cage in a corner

It’s always best to keep a birdcage in a corner. Having walls on two sides of the cage helps the bird feel safe and recreates the feeling of living in a nest.

On the other hand, placing the cage in the open or in the middle of a high-traffic area will cause your parrot constant fear and stress.

The bird will deem its environment an unsafe place and instinctively try to get away.

With the confinement of the cage preventing it from moving somewhere it feels safe, it’ll suffer severe stress and might develop behavioral problems like feather plucking and phobias.

By moving the birdcage to a corner, you can help your avian pet develop a sense of security and get over its fear of the “outside world.”

Put a perch by the door

Another way to get your bird out of the cage is to place a perch by the cage door. If possible, leave it poking in through the door.

This method is especially effective for parrots that love to explore.

Give the bird places to fly to

Once your parrot starts coming out to the perch, you may take it a step further by placing perches and bird gems in other areas of the room.

Flighted birds love having places to fly to, and being able to fly successfully also helps grow their confidence.

Leave the door open and get away

If your bird refuses to leave the cage while you are around, you may leave the cage door open and walk away.

However, it is very important to first make the room completely safe for the bird.

Shut all exits and remove anything that might potentially scare or hurt your feathered friend.

For birds that are cage bound, stepping out of the cage that first time can be a really big step

With no one around, the bird would be more likely to leave the cage.

Trying this method together with the strategic placement of perches around the room is more likely to make it fruitful.

Don’t keep the door open all the time, though. Even if the bird refuses to leave the cage, lock it in at night or when you leave the house.

Earn the bird’s trust

Now, your parrot may be willing to come out of the cage when you aren’t around, but that’s not a permanent solution.

Bird owners must earn their pets’ trust to be able to provide them with proper care.

Spend quality time with your feathered friend every day to help it feel safe in your presence.

Talk gently to the bird while sitting next to the cage with the door open.

It won’t understand your words, but your calm and affectionate tone won’t go unnoticed either.

Unless your parrot tends to bite, you may also hand-feed the bird its favorite treats.

However, it is also very important to respect your pet’s personal space.

Birds are territorial and may attack anyone ‘invading’ their area.

Putting your arms, hands, or face into the birdcage might severely upset your pet.

Larger parrots are perfectly capable of breaking skin and drawing blood with their bites if they want to.

You need to spend time with your bird to earn its trust

Use other birds for role modeling

An interesting (and effective) way to make a cage-bound bird come out is role-modeling it with other birds.

If you have any more avian pets, preferably adventurous ones that love getting out of their cages, place them in the same room.

Watching them leave their cage regularly will convince the cage-bound bird that it’s safe outside and encourage it to step out.

Help the bird explore outside the cage

This step comes later when your parrot has already started leaving its cage.

Help the bird explore the area around the cage to expand the territory it considers safe.

For example, placing a small ladder that allows it to climb down from the cage to the floor might be a good idea.

When getting your bird to explore its environment, gradually sit farther away from the cage each day.

Talk to the bird gently, offer it some treats, and wait for it to come closer to you.

Don’t try to grab your parrot or even move when it gets close.

Remember, they are prey animals, and even the slightest movement at the wrong moment can scare them off.

Give the bird a bigger cage

Consider moving the bird to a bigger cage, preferably one with a large door.

This is especially important for larger birds that need more space to move around.

A big cage will help your bird get more exercise, and the large door will make it easier for the bird to enter or leave the cage.

A bigger cage gives your bird more room to roam around, and lots of space to exercise

Be patient

Lastly, be patient when training your feathered friend and helping it overcome its fears.

Birds don’t become cage-bound overnight – it results from long periods of abuse and neglect.

Breaking down their fear and showing them that humans can be trusted would take some time.

Rushing the bird and trying to approach it too fast will only make things worse.

Just give it the time it needs and do your part to earn its trust. Eventually, a parrot’s instinct to explore and forage will help it get over its fear.

Should I Leave My Bird Cage Open?

You may leave the bird cage open when trying to make it leave the cage, but only on the following conditions:

  • You should be around to supervise in case something goes wrong.
  • The environment should be perfectly safe for the bird. Remove anything in the room that might wound or kill the bird in case the bird flies into it.
  • All potential exit points must be shut – you certainly don’t want your pet to fly away.

I wouldn’t advise leaving the birdcage open for long periods, and certainly not at night.

Even noises from outside your home might trigger night frights.

Flying around in a panicked state with poor night vision, even birds that are well-adjusted to their home might crash into a wall and get injured.

Leaving the cage open for too long can cause accidents, it is best to avoid doing so.

How to Get Untamed Bird Out of Cage?

Getting an untamed bird out of its cage might be a little tricky.

The chances are high that the bird might see you as a threat and act aggressively if you get too close.

Maintain some distance and be patient with the bird, gradually taming it by offering treats and talking to it.

Be especially careful about shutting all the doors and windows and making the room safe for the bird to fly around.

An untamed bird might try desperately to escape when it gets an opportunity.

Why Is My Bird Climbing Its Cage?

It’s normal for birds to climb the cage bars for fun and exercise.

However, you have reasons to be concerned if your bird seems to be overdoing it.

A bird that keeps climbing the cage all day is likely bored and stressed.

Birds living in captivity must be provided with enough toys, puzzles, and social interaction.

The lack of physical and mental stimulation can cause them to seek out entertainment by themselves through activities like climbing the cage.

Such behavior might also be accompanied by anxiety and aggression.

Birds climb cages too often because they are bored

How to stop your bird from climbing its cage all day?

Well, the solution is quite simple.

Provide your bird with the activity it needs, and it won’t have to climb the cage for entertainment anymore.

Bird owners should occasionally add new toys to the cage and rotate existing toys now and then to keep things interesting for the bird.

Foot toys might be particularly helpful in reducing the cage climbing habit.

Also, remember to let your bird out of the cage regularly.

Even though domesticated birds don’t need to forage for food, they still require activity and exercise.

Teaching your bird to forage can help keep it stimulated, too, both mentally and physically.

Adding companion birds to the cage is a good way to keep your pet bird from getting bored.

This is especially true for all species of parrots and other social birds. They love human interaction too, but nothing beats the company of another bird.

Teaching your parrot to forage can help reduce their boredom

Signs of stress in birds

While our feathered friends can’t speak up to let us know when they are stressed, there are plenty of signs to indicate it.

Bird owners should always look out for the following behaviors as potential signs of stress.

  • Crest position: In certain crested birds like cockatiels and cockatoos, the position of the crest feathers indicates the bird’s mood. You should especially watch out for a completely flat crest – the sign of an angry bird.
  • Screaming: Many species of parrots are inherently loud birds and make a lot of noise. However, incessant screaming and hissing might mean the bird is stressed about something.
  • Decrease vocalization: Birds don’t always scream when stressed – the exact opposite behavior might indicate high-stress levels too. If your bird suddenly starts vocalizing less than usual and you don’t know why get it examined by a vet.
  • Aggression: Needless to say, aggressive behavior like biting and lunging are clear signs of stress. It could be either due to the bird’s emotional state or physical illness.
  • Feather plucking: Overly stressed birds might start plucking off their feathers. While feather plucking might also originate from medical issues, psychological causes are much more common.
  • Self-mutilation: Birds suffering from extreme stress levels might not stop at feather plucking and resort to self-mutilation. This needs to be addressed immediately before the bird causes itself a severe wound or infection.
  • Decreased appetite: Like humans, stressed birds might lose their appetite and eat much less than usual.

Caged birds can become very stressed if they are not allowed outside for a long time

Wrapping up

Ultimately, cage-bound behavior can be fixed by taking the necessary measures.

Be patient with your feathered friend, and take your time building up trust.

With enough affection and care, your pet will eventually realize it’s safe to step out of the cage.

Be particularly careful when raising a baby bird, as you wouldn’t want it to become cage-bound at such an age.

Behavioral problems and trust issues developed at a young age are harder to fix in the later stages.

I hope this article has been of help to you, and thank you for reading it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a cage-bound bird out of its cage?

The first thing to do is to make your bird feel safe. You can do this by putting its cage in the corner of the room, thus keeping it shielded from two sides. 
Next, start trying to invite it outside the cage by placing a perch near the door. If it takes the lead, let it fly in the room (but with all the safety precautions we mentioned earlier).
Gain your bird’s trust over time by talking and spending time with it. Let it feel comfortable, safe, and confident that there is nothing to fear.
In due course, you should see progress, and your pet bird will start to venture out of its cage more often until it becomes a fun activity for it.

Do parrots need to be out of their cage?

Yes, very much so. Parrots (all birds, for that matter) are free creatures – cages are not natural for them.
You should try to give your parrot at least two to three hours of outside cage time, letting it flex its wings and move about as it would in the wild.
In fact, I would say that an owner who does not let his parrot out of the cage is a cruel one – it’s important to let the bird have its play time and even interact with humans around it.
That’s the only way to let your bird feel safe and loved.

Do birds get stressed in cages?

Yes, very much so. In fact, excessive cage time is one of the most important causes of feather plucking and self-mutilation in birds.
In fact, captive birds often experience psychological stress because they are not able to do what they are supposed to do naturally – things like foraging for food and flying around all day.
Letting your bird out of its cage for at least a couple of hours a day can be very helpful in bringing down the stress levels this might cause.
Also, make sure that your pet gets the proper diet, lots of fun things, toys in the cage to pass its time, and other forms of entertainment like the radio or television.

How long can a parrot live in a cage?

If given the proper diet, the right amount of social enrichment, physical activity, and mental stimulation, caged or domestic parrots can live much longer than they do in the wild.
For example, cockatiels can live for 14 years on average, while cockatoos can live for more than 50 years.
If the question is about how long you can leave the parrot in its cage without letting it out – I would say not more than a day.
Anything more than that is simply cruelty.

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Beautyofbirds.com's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

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