Market experts report that sales of bird cages are up, with retailers stating that customers, instead of just buying the least expensive option, are focused on style and quality.
"Mostly, I see people trading in and trading up," said Tom VonRitchie, manager of M&D Bird World, a bird shop in Harbeson, Del. "They already have cages at home, but they want bigger and better [options] for their birds. They’re upgrading."
He attributed this spending trend to changing pet owner attitudes revolving around bird husbandry.
"They realize their birds need or would enjoy more space to make them happier," VonRitchie said. "They want to provide better for their bird."
Zac Marcus, manager of Todd Marcus Birds Exotic, a store in Delran, N.J., reported a similar trend of owners making sure they have a proper-sized cage for their birds.
"In the past, [bird owners] would see some YouTuber and would want what they have regardless if it is safe or not, or buy just off of the looks and what they think they can fit in their house," he said. "Now we have people really listening in on how important a proper cage for their species makes a major difference down the road mentally for the bird as well as financially for the owner."
Trending cage attributes include durability, ease of use and cleanup, spaciousness, home-friendly décor and value for the price, experts said.
"Pet owners are all about making caring for a bird as a pet easier and less messy, while providing adequate space for the bird and good engagement for the bird," said John Gerstenberger, vice president of product development and sourcing for Ware Pet Products, a Phoenix-based manufacturer.
Details such as upgraded coating, better bar gauges and effective locking mechanisms are meaningful changes seen in pet bird cages, according to industry insiders. And it doesn’t end with cages.
"Manufacturers now are upgrading their coating and finishes and the size of the material they are using," VonRitchie said. "That even goes with accessories. The perches and stuff we see now seem to be a much better quality, built better and last longer."
He sees suppliers offering a range in price and quality for low- to high-end accessory demands. Another push is in natural products, he said.
"Besides toys, they are going more toward perches that are dragon and other natural wood instead of just the perches that come with the cage or the plastics," VonRitchie said. "Mostly people are moving more toward natural wood and materials such as coconut, coconut husks, oyster shells, java and dragonwood. And the harder woods, like java, allow people to get more value for the price."
Along with desiring more natural materials, customers want products that are sourced and made locally.
"Consumers are more conscientious about the economy and buying local if possible," said Bernard St-Cyr, partner at Zoo-Max Exotic Ltd., a manufacturer in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada.
Know Your Customer
Strategies for curating an ideal assortment of bird cages and accessories start with store demographic, pet specialty retailers reported.
Tom VonRitchie, manager of M&D Bird World in Harbeson, Del., said his store serves both experienced bird keepers and a lot of first timers.
"We [offer a cage] in the beginner bird line that is low cost, but not poor quality, and then all the way up to high-end King’s stainless steel [cages]," he said. "We try to offer something that everyone can afford."
His approach to cage accessories is similar. VonRitchie said he strives to offer such a large assortment that customers can find anything for their birds.
"We try to set our accessories up in size categories, and then material type and price," he said. "We have an aisle for extra-small, then small, then medium, then large and then extra-large. We carry every different kind of material and size to cover all our bases."
VonRitchie also bases his store selection on the birds they’re selling and the trends he sees with his regular customers.
Andrew King, CEO of King’s Cages International, a manufacturer in East Brunswick, N.J., also recommended evaluating individual store trends when choosing stock.
"Know what birds you’re selling and carry what is best for them," he said. "Know your market, the income bracket of the surrounding area and keep a selection of cages that will work for them."
Industry insiders also recommended using diversity and selection size to set specialty stores apart.
"Bring in something different that the customer cannot get at the mass market," King said.
Not only does his store carry complete lines, but Zac Marcus, manager of Todd Marcus Birds Exotic in Delran, N.J., said he ensures the products they carry are items birds like.
"We offer almost the complete line by King’s Cages as well as by A&E Cage Co.," he said. "This has us completely cover every aspect of cage buying in a sense of cost versus quality.
"When it comes to cage accessories, we pride ourselves on having the largest diversity of products compared to even larger stores that may be bigger in size but filled with the same toys or product in several locations of the store or six pegs of each product to make it seem vast. We also carry what we believe in, either [as it relates to] safety for the bird or something that a bird would actually use."
On the Market
For the Birds
Pet bird ownership appears to be on the rise, giving opportunity for cage and accessory sales and feeding the current trends, said John Gerstenberger, vice president of product development and sourcing for Ware Pet Products, a Phoenix-based manufacturer.
"This is especially true with budgies (parakeets), cockatiels and conures, whose general good nature and relative small size make them a good all-around pet. Lesser-known species like parrotlets also appear to be gaining in popularity," he said. "In turn habitats, accessories, etc., are seeing an opportunity to be more fashion-forward and be more than something that is tucked away in a kid’s room."
Ware’s Bird Central cage comes in two sizes: Parakeet & Finch and Cockatiel & Conure. It includes an easy-fill control feeding station designed to let owners better monitor their pet’s intake, and the pull-out tray allows for quick and easy access and cleaning, said company officials.
The best-selling cages at M&D Bird World, a bird shop in Harbeson, Del., are from King’s Cages, with the most popular this year being the 24-by-22-inch playpen bird cage for small to medium birds, said Tom VonRitchie, manager. He attributed the popularity of King’s to the product quality and upgrades, and the fact that they are easy to keep clean.
Zac Marcus, manager of Todd Marcus Birds Exotic, in Delran, N.J., also reported that King’s Cages enclosure are the store’s best-sellers, adding that they address the needs of a wide range of species.
Enclosures from A&E Cages are seeing the most movement at Adventures in Birds & Pets, a pet store in Houston. Manager Gary Foster said models "intended for smaller birds and made of powder-coated steel have been steady sellers" this year.
In cage accessories, hot movers are indestructible and foraging toys, retailers said. Zoo-Max Exotic Ltd.’s Groovy Wood Blocks remain popular as foraging toys. They are made of soft wood and enable owners to create a foraging activity center where they can stash delicious treats into grooved blocks for pet birds to find, said officials for the Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada-based manufacturer.
Hard plastics used for foraging and the hide-a-treat toys sell well at M&D Bird World, VonRitchie said. Customers at Adventures in Birds & Pets like locally produced chewable toys made from plastic straws and toys that combine wood and leather, Foster reported.