by Linda Greeson

The best cages for breeding birds are those that money can't buy - those that you make yourself. I enjoy the challenge of designing cages as much as Dior does designing clothes. It seems that as soon as I decide on a really good way to house our birds, another idea comes along and modifications are in order.

The bump out breeder cage is one that I have been satisfied with for quite a few years. Forty of them, by count, from sizes suited for Lories to Congo Greys, are neatly suspended from the ceiling in rows in our large aviary.

The nest boxes are secure in their placement on the "bump out " section, requiring only a length of tie wire to safety the box snugly to the cage. They provide cover for the food and water bowls, preventing contamination by droppings from above. To modify the cage for the safety of the persistent chewers, I make a wire box around the top and three sides of the nest box. It is secured by hinging it on the bottom using a spring to hold it in place.

We construct all of our cages of 1/2 inch by 1 inch wire, galvanized after welding. It needs to be at least 16 gauge, or 14 gauge if obtainable; 19 gauge is much too flimsy. (The lower the gauge number the stronger and heavier the wire.)

Wire is expensive, but it is poor economy to settle for 1 x 1 or 1 x 2 wire. It seems a challenge for all species of birds to discover just how small an opening through which they can poke their heads. None seem to give any regard as to how to pull their heads back and serious injuries are the result. 1/2 x 1/2 hardware cloth is fine for small cages with a frame, but is not strong enough to be self supporting.

The most labor saving way to purchase wire for a cage building is buying it in two different widths. I use the 18 inch width for the top and bottom and the 24 inch width for the sides, back, and lower fronts.


1. A pair of wire cutters. Invest in a good pair, and if you plan on building many cages electrical wire cutters are a blessing.

2. "J "clips These are small J shaped metal clips that close up around the wire to fasten it together. They are also used to make the hinges for the doors. They are available

at most feed stores and from many pet supply catalogues. You will need about one pound of size five clips per cage.

3. J Clip Pliers - pliers especially made to close and fasten the J clips. J clip removal pliers are also available to facilitate removal of misplaced or incorrectly applied clips.

4. A tape measure

5. Black felt tip marking pen

6. Hammer

7. A short length of 2 x 4 - about two feet long

8. Wire loop latches or springs to fasten cage doors. These are also available from feed stores or pet supply catalogues.


For Small Birds (Budgies, Red Rumps, Grey Cheeks, etc.) 12 inches wide , 18 inches high, 24 inches long

For Medium Sized Birds ( Cockatiels, Conures, Lories, etc) 18 inches wide x 24 inches high x 48 inches long

For Medium Large Birds (Greys, Amazons, Pionus, Mini Macaws ) 24 inches wide x 24 inches high x 48 inches long

Sizes are approximate. It is a simple matter to adopt the design to any size cage you prefer to make. We make most of our cages the 18 inch width as an amazing variety of birds can be comfortably housed in this size.


For the medium sized cage:

Lay the 24 inch wire on a flat surface, such as a large table, the garage floor, or even the driveway. Measure off a piece 132 inches long and cut. Use the black felt marker to mark the wire as in the diagram

Cut out the 12 inch square areas marked E and F and save the cut pieces for doors.

Make a 90 degree bend in the wire ( a right angle bend) at points B, C, and D. Lastly make a 90 degree bend at point A. To make these bends use the 2 x 4 and a hammer. Lay the 2 x 4 along the line you marked and bend the wire around it with the use of the hammer. These few bends in the wire eliminate a great deal of cutting and fastening.

Fasten together side G to side H and thus you have the sides, front, and back.

Cut a piece of 18 inch wide wire exactly 48 inches long for the bottom. Fasten it with the J clips around all four of the sides, using one clip about every four inches. This will square up your cage and make it easier to attach the top..

Again using the 18 inch wire, cut a piece 48 inches long for the top. Mark a line 12 inches in from one end and bend this end down at a 90 degree angle. This will be the top and also the top half of the cage front.

Fasten the top front to the bottom front, starting at the bend. Then fasten the rest of the top to the sides and back. Doing it in this order makes it easier to accomplish.

All that remains to be done is making cut outs for the

doors. A good sized opening for the feeding door is four inches high and eight inches wide at the front of the cage. This is just big enough to allow easy access to the food and water bowls. If you are right handed it is most convenient to hinge the door on the left.

The opening in the upper half of the cage should be large enough to allow for the insertion of a bird net and your hand. About six inches wide by nine inches high is a convenient size. When the nest box is in place it covers this opening with the door fastened back against the cage. When the nest box is not in use the door is securely fastened to cover the opening.

Attach wire loop or spring type latches with J hooks.

To foil our little escape artists who, given time, manage to unhook almost any fastening, I construct a small wire box on the inside of the cage in the area of the latch.

Secure two 18 inch perches in the cage, one near the back and one near the front about two inches away from the large door. For good breeding results these need to be firmly anchored.

Try as I may, I cannot make these instructions as simple as the process of building the cage actually is. After the experience you gain in building just one, you will find yourself constructing additional cages with no difficulty at all. Hopefully these will satisfy your needs for simplicity in maintenance. Most important of all, they will help you breeding pairs stay happy and healthy.



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Last Updated:  April 26, 2013

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