What Perches are Good, Safe for Birds (Parrots)

I reckon if you own a bird, you can appreciate how crucial perches are to your feathery pal. They are arguably one of the must-haves in a parrot’s cage, together with toys and feeding bowls.

Even so, there are so many different types in the market, and it’s easy to get confused when you walk into your local pet store.

What is safe for your bird and what’s not?

Does the material matter or just get the piece that catches your eye first?

Well, DVM Rick Axelson on Laurie Hess’s post reckons wood branches or natural wood make the best perches because the varying diameter allows parrots to distribute pressure to different areas at the bottom of their feet.

The good folks at Beak Craze (love them😍😻) also seem to agree that a good parrot perch should come in an irregular shape and size to help alleviate cramps and pressure sores on birds, a quality best achievable with natural wood pieces.

…, and I absolutely agree with the arguments made by the good doctor and the fellas at beak craze. Perhaps the only thing I would add is…

…, every bird should also have a mineral perch for its nutritional need. Plus, the rough texture is good for their underfoot.

What Perches are Bad for Birds (Parrots)

There are not many perches that are expressly harmful to birds because even some, like sand and dowel that several owners have had a challenge using, have worked pretty well for others.

You only need to take a few precautions with the source material and how the perch texture and shape affect your birdie’s feet.

For instance, you do not want your bird spending so much time on a sand perch, more so at night, since they are notorious for causing feet problems.

You also do not want to give your bird a rope perch that might harm him if ingested, which also applies to wooden perches.

Below is a somewhat lengthy discussion on each of the perches types you are most likely to find in your local pets store or online shop. In there, there are pros, cons, and precautions you might want to take when using them.

Are Natural (Wood) Perches Good for Birds, Parrots

Yes, natural wood perches are safe and ideal for all birds, including parrots.

As we’ve observed, they come in irregular shapes and sizes, which protect your bird’s feet from cramps and pressure sores.

The best quality are the ones that look more like natural branches (with lifts, pits, twists, and turns), and most importantly, clean.

If you wish, you can even use an old branch from a non-toxic tree outside your house, as long as it’s sterilized to keep it safe for your feathery pal to sit or stand on.

First, you’ll want to wash the branch you pick up outside, then disinfect it by heating it in an oven at 200 Degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Now, please note that it’s not all tree branches that are safe for use with birds. Some have toxic elements, such as oils unsafe for birds if chewed on.

Here is a list of some tree branches I recommend using for your bird’s perches.

  • Cholla Cactus
  • Dragon Wood
  • Douglas Fir
  • Cork Tree
  • Grape Palm
  • Grapevine
  • Manzanita
  • Ribbon Wood
  • Bamboo
  • Elm
  • Mapple Wood
  • Willow
  • Bottlebrush
  • Java Wood
  • Sycamore
  • Thurlow Tree
  • Vine maple
  • Acacia

Please note this list is not exhaustive. Find out more on this post by Free Range Parrots.

Are Sand Perches Safe for Birds, Parrots

Yes, and no!

I know this is not a very desirable answer, but with good reason since there is no consensus among bird (parrot) owners.

Most have had varying outcomes ranging from good to unsettling.

See, sandy (rough) bird perches are arguably unsafe for birds because the harsh, scratchy surfaces of the little benches may cause harm to birds’ feet.

…, but they are also desirable because they help trim your birds’ nails, which means less bird grooming for you to do.

Now, away from the general view, I’ve used sandy perches in some of my bird’s cages without much issue. So, I think the danger is mostly dependent on where you put them.

Essentially, you want them in a spot where your bird won’t access them all the time, such as in front of the food and water bowls. Avoid having them in elevated areas of the cage.

See, birds prefer resting and sleeping in the highest spot they can find, which means they may spend up to 8 hours there, and it’s certainly not an ideal option with sandy perches.

A sandy perch might not be the best, but as long as you don’t put them too high up in the cage and your birds don’t spend too much time on it, it is perfectly ok for your parrot.

Having said that, if you are still not a big fan of sandy perches, you can opt for safety pumice perches. They have a nice texture to protect your parrots’ feet pads and a rough surface on the side to keep their nails trimmed.

Pumice perches are only sandy on the sides, not the top where their delicate feet rest.

Are Flat Dowel Perches Bad for Birds, Parrots

Dowel perches (same as sandy stands) are not inherently terrible, but they can cause bumblefoot disease if they are the same shape and size.

Yes, you can use the ones that come with the cage (in case you are wondering) but curve some texture into the perch with a knife or something similar to form irregular shapes best for your birdie’s feet.

A few whacks with a hummer or wrapping the dowel perch with sisal or no-peel fleece would give them the desired uneven surface. Only make sure they are not too thin if you go the whacking way, rest it splits.

Use one or two in your parrot’s cage at a time and rotate them out once they get dirty or chewed.

Dowel perches are only bad if they are the only option or the highest perch in the cage (sleep perch usually); Faislaq, Avian Avenue.

One advantage of using dowel perches is they connect at both ends, meaning you can place them in any direction as opposed to other types that you can only position horizontally.

That’s all for this post. See you in the next one🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️👋.

Happy Birding🦜🐦.


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