Birds spend the majority of their time standing on their feet, so good perches are essential. Just as you prefer a comfortable pair of shoes, birds need comfortable perches. Birds also use perches to rub their beaks on to remove pieces of food. An ideal perch is easily cleaned, comfortable to the bird, and of the proper material and diameter to prevent foot problems. Perches may be stationary or swinging. All cage items, including perches, should be selected knowing that birds like to chew, shred, and destroy things, and therefore items will often need to be replaced.
As a general rule, a bird's foot should wrap itself around about 2/3 of the perch. The perch should never be so small that the bird's front toes meet or overlap the back toe(s). The accompanying chart provides some guidelines as to proper diameters for various sizes of birds. Birds will do best if the perches are of unequal diameter along their width, as could be found with natural branches, and some plastic branches. If all perches are the same diameter, the bird will always be placing pressure on the same areas on the foot. This can cause thinning of the scales, redness, and possibly infection of the bottom of the foot. Having perches of various sizes and materials within the cage will also help prevent foot problems.
Below is a general guideline when choosing a perch for your parrot:
Perches should be placed in front of food and water dishes, so the dishes can be easily reached by the bird. To avoid droppings contaminating the food or water, avoid placing perches over the dishes. Perches should be placed so the bird's tail will not touch the side of the cage when sitting on the perch. Place perches at various levels within the cage, but avoid using too many perches, which could prevent the bird from flying (especially a smaller bird such as a canary or finch).