A hospital cage is easy to set up, and it is a place where your sick bird can rest quietly and keep warm. A hospital cage is also used in order to stabilize your bird before taking them to the vet.
Many people keep a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium as a hospital tank for their birds, but some birds don't do well in that environment because it's so foreign and it stresses them out. The other option is to keep a smaller cage that you can tent on 3 sides and the top with the perches and food/water bowls low or on the floor. The purpose of it being smaller is to reduce and conserve the amount of energy the bird needs to expend in getting to their perches and food. Also, the smaller the cage, the less likely your bird is going to get hurt if he/she falls.
Food and water should be easily accessible by placing it close to the perches. If your bird is unable to perch, place some shallow food and water dishes on the bottom of the cage. Millet can also helpful because it is easy for the bird to eat, and is high in energy. On the cage bottom, use paper towels and Dri-Dek
or some soft material in order to cushion the bird if it should fall.
You want to keep your bird warm and hydrated. Temperatures for a sick bird should be between 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to achieve this you can either put a heating pad (the kind that doesn't turn off) on low under one half of the cage, or you can use a heat lamp that is placed at least 3 feet away and shines on the tent, NOT THE BIRD. You don't want to overheat the poor thing or set the tent on fire. Always use a thermometer to monitor the temperature in the cage. Creating a thermal gradient in the cage allows your bird to warm up or cool down as needed in different parts of the hospital cage.
Hydration is critical. Make sure you keep clear pedialyte or Avian Thirst Quencher
in your first aid kit as well as handfeeding syringes
. You can mix the pedialyte 50/50 with water and either put it in the dish/bottle if s/he's drinking, or give by syringe.
Place your hospital cage in a quiet part of the house, and cover 3 sides of the cage with a dark material or towel. "Tenting" the cage helps to reduce stress and keep your bird calm. It can also help keep the cage interior warm.
Be sure to monitor your bird constantly and make a vet appointment as soon as possible!
By Tamara Money with Contributions from Ginger Robinson