All the Rage in Bird Cages
A gander at the latest in avian cages and accessories
In celebration of its 25 years in business, Greenfeather Bird Supply and GFB Toys are releasing an Upcycle series of toys for birds to play with, made from leftover parts.
“GFB Toys strives to improve upon designs,” said Dena Tucker, president of the West Hartford, Conn., company. “At the same time, the priority always is to maintain the highest level of quality, coupled with using primarily environmentally conscience materials to create toys and products that help enrich our companion animal’s life.”
Caitec Corp. in Baltimore recently launched a macaw-size carrier and universal mess-free feeders for parrot cages. As for accessories, the company has released a window play gym, a millet holder with a built-in perch, and a bathtub with a mirrored pedal for birds that are cockatiel size or smaller.
Kaytee Hard Goods, a division of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Central Garden & Pet, just relaunched its Kaytee Activity Centers and Kaytee T-Stands for Pet Birds.
“It has been suggested that regular physical and mental enrichment can contribute to reduced boredom and stress in companion birds,” said Mary Ann Loveland, associate brand manager. “These allow you to re-create and enjoy a pet bird’s natural behavior in your home environment.”
Cage Features that Sell
• A removable bottom tray allows for the bottom of the cage to be removed and the debris to be dumped directly into the trash. It also makes it easier to scrub or hose down the cage bottom, which is typically the messiest part of the cage.
• The wheels on the foot of the cage simplify moving it from one location to another, especially for large cages that are too heavy to carry.
• A cage with a built-in playtop offers an additional spot for the bird to hang out on, much like a separate, stand-alone playstand would, but without taking up additional space. Some cage playtops have their own pullout tray, which makes keeping this area clean much easier.
• Outside-accessible feeding stations eliminate the need to reach inside the cage to replenish food and water. This is especially helpful for birds that tend to be territorial around the cage or for fully flighted birds, and it can make a caretaker’s or pet sitter’s task of feeding a bird much easier and safer.
• A flared cage skirt incorporated into the cage’s design directs debris back into the cage instead of onto the floor. The slanted skirt essentially causes food bits, chewed-up toy parts and other debris to slide down into the bottom of the cage. Another mess manager is a grate at the cage bottom, which can keep a bird from chewing on the cage liner or accessing debris that has fallen onto the cage bottom.
• A slide lock on the door handle or pin that drops in place behind the door to outside-accessible food bowls can add an extra line of defense to foil a feathered escape artist. Similarly, some cages offer a mounted metal triangle-shaped hinge on the inside of the cage and a metal hinge on the outside of the cage for an extra escape-proof element. If the bird manages to open the door lock, these hinges prevent the bird from pushing or pulling the cage door open.
Educating Customers About Cages
Education and proper categorization are crucial to help consumers search for the best bird products.
“Never generalize pet toys, as all species and sizes of birds are unique and have their own needs,” said Emilye Schmale, senior marketing manager for Petmate in Arlington, Texas. “What might be a good toy or product for one bird might not be ideal for another.”
The two questions Ian Brown, owner of Golden Cockatoo in Deerfield Beach, Fla., hears the most in his store are, “What is the appropriate size cage for my companion?” and “How do we keep it clean?”
“We train our staff to point out and physically show all of the features the cage has,” he said. “That includes the ease of the slide-out trays, grates, seed guards, mobility of the wheels and any other feature they can suggest.”
For retailers that don’t sell birds in-store, it’s still important that all staff are well educated on the various species of birds commonly sold as pets and understand which products are right for each different type of bird, manufacturers reported.
“As a manufacturer, we have discount programs for any products used in-store,” said Terry Gao, president of Caitec Corp. in Baltimore. “The best way to educate consumers and sell bird-related products is to use them in the store so the consumer can see how they work.”
Promotion and Display of Cages
It’s important for retailers to understand what they are selling and why they are selling it. That’s why Emilye Schmale, senior marketing manager for Petmate in Arlington, Texas, said her company’s product catalog and website provide valuable information on the purpose and importance of each accessory available.
Mary Ann Loveland, associate brand manager for Kaytee Hard Goods, a division of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Central Garden & Pet, suggested retailers contact their Kaytee sales representative to get promotional or display merchandising for their products.
“We would propose retailers build a Kaytee Activity Center as a display to use in stores with a live companion bird if possible,” she said.
At Golden Cockatoo in Deerfield Beach, Fla., a lot of thought goes into cage displays.
“We display all of our cages assembled starting from right to left from smallest to largest with equal space between them all,” said Ian Brown, owner. “Above our cages, we use high-output LED 5,000K lights to ensure adequate visual.”
At Nature Chest Pet Supplies in Decatur, Ala., owner Debra Morgan showcases a larger cage with lots of toys, perches, swings and other accessories to give a good example of how a properly sized cage can make a good home for a bird.
“Adding a cover and cage skirt to a travel or sleep cage can give it a finished look,” she said. “We also sell plush parrots in our store and usually add one as if it were playing with a toy.”
Petmate strives to place a wide variety of product knowledge on each and every package to help the consumer and the retailer best understand the product, Schmale said. This includes full-color pictures of the product in use with a pet and key informational messaging.
To increase sales of necessary extras—which most people need to see and be reminded of—rotate the toys, perches, sleepwear, etc., in the cages to give customers a fresh look at the store’s inventory and new design ideas for cage decorating, said Dena Tucker, president of Greenfeather Bird Supply in West Hartford, Conn.
Jeremy Barney, floor manager for Arcata Pet Supplies in Arcata, Calif., said his store keeps display cages near the food and toys, so as customers ask questions, the staff already is near products they might be asking about.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Pet Product News.