The cage is the African Grey Parrot's sanctuary and safe place. It must be carefully selected, with bars spaced no more than 3/4" apart. Learn to select a cage.
A young parrot's cage needs will differ from those of a mature adult. For a young fledgling, the cage should be small, and feel like a safe haven. The shape should be square, with bars no more than 3/4" apart. The more horizontal bars, the better. A mature bird will need a larger area, for exercise.
Choosing a proper cage is probably the single most important part of bringing a new African Grey Parrot, or any parrot really, into your life. As discussed, African Grey Parrots, as a rule are not naturally self-confident or outgoing. Millions of years of evolution have made them cautious, intelligent, and wary of the unfamiliar. Once you get your African Grey home, the work of earning their trust, building their confidence, and tending to their physical and emotional needs can begin in earnest.
When you bring a young African Grey Parrot home, you will likely do so in their first cage. Many breeders may include the first cage with the purchase price of the parrot. This is ideal because it means you'll be bringing your new companion home in a cage that they are already accustomed to. This can make the transition from one household to another easier. African Grey Parrots are uncomfortable when they are out in the open, so setting up their cage with at least one side toward a wall is ideal. Try to avoid setting them up in front of windows, or even mirrors. Doing so will give the illusion of exposure, which may lead to fearfulness. If your parrot is very nervous, try using a grey towel, similar in color to the bird, and covering the top half of the cage. Don't be surprised if your bird goes up and perches under the towel, as they might perch in the leaves of a tree in an effort to remain hidden.
If your breeder does not provide the first cage, then it is a good idea to choose the first cage, and provide it to the breeder a couple of weeks before you plan to bring your new parrot home. This will give the parrot time to become accustomed to the cage prior to making the move. When moving the parrot, be sure to bring some toys that he or she is familiar with along with the bird and the cage. If the breeder doesn't include any toys, find out what your new companion's favorites are, and buy the same or similar toys. In the same vein, be sure to have the same type of food that the bird is used to for feeding once you get your parrot home. During the two week period prior to bringing your new parrot home, see if the breeder will allow you to spend time with him or her. Participate in feeding and other activities that you will need to do once you take the parrot home. The fewer drastic changes the parrot has to go through during the move, the more likely the transition will be considered a success for both the bird and his or her human family.
A good size for a first cage is 24" x 22" x 63" (60.9cm x 55.8cm x 160cm). This cage as an example gains much of its height from its stand as the interior of the cage measures 45" (114cm) tall. Cages with cage stands are great as they elevate smaller cages letting your pet feel safe, secure and more included in its surroundings. The cage should feel small and secure to the bird. The cage should be square, not round. African Grey Parrots in a new environment are likely to want to hang out in the corner, as they feel safer there. The bars should be spaced no more than 3/4" apart to prevent the parrot getting his head stuck between the bars. Be sure there are no places where little toes can get caught and damaged. Cages with rounded tops, where the bars come together in a single point are one place where this can happen. Cages with ornamental metal pieces attached to the wire of the cage is another. Powder coated cages, brass, or stainless steel bars are all suitable. Avoid painted metal, as it can be toxic. Try to have as many horizontal as well as vertical bars, as this will stimulate exploration and climbing. An African Grey can climb vertical bars, but it's not easy for them, so they will need a lot more motivation to do so.
A good minimum size for a permanent cage is 24"d x 36"w x 48"h (61cm x 91cm x 122cm). This should put the top of the cage at around five (5) feet from the floor. The same rules apply here for how the cage should be constructed. Once the bird graduates to this larger cage, the first cage can be repurposed as a roosting cage. The African Grey Parrot should sleep ten (10) to twelve (12) hours per night. The roosting cage should be small, and located in a dark area away from noise and foot traffic. A cover can be used if a window or other source of excitement interrupts your bird's ability to rest. The only thing the bird is going to be doing in this cage is sleeping. It is likely the bird will not even want to use the bathroom in this cage. It is believed they developed this behavior in the wild, in an effort to prevent predators from finding where they roost. For this reason, be mindful of how long the bird stays in the roost cage, and be sure to give them the opportunity to leave this cage in a timely manner when sleep time is over.
When it comes to perches, African Grey Parrots have evolved the perfect feet for perching on tree limbs with bark. Compared to some other parrots, their feet are relatively small, so their perches need to be size appropriate. In order for a perch to work for them their opposing long toes need to stretch at least halfway around the perch, perhaps a little more. The best perches are usually cut from a local tree, cleaned with soap, water, and bleach then set in the sun to dry. Soft woods such as poplar, plum, and even citrus work well. Leave the bark intact on any perches that you cut for your feathered friend. They need the rough bark to keep their feet healthy. Without it, they can develop sores on the bottoms of their feet, which can lead to other health issues.
The African Grey loves to perch on top of their cage and flap their wings. This is desirable because it keeps their cardiovascular system in good shape and helps to build up their muscles and keep their metabolism active. If you have an African Grey who does not do this, it is best to encourage this behavior. Ideally, they should flap their wings until they are short of breath at least once per day. If your bird seems reluctant to do this, you can attempt to encourage them to flap by holding them a couple of feet above a soft bed or mattress and then gently manipulating them into "falling" onto the soft surface. This should illicit flapping, and once they try it, hopefully they will like it and continue to do it. It may take a few of these "falls" for them to realize that this exercise actually feels good. This is an important part of keeping your bird healthy, and it allows them to expend some of the energy they would normally be using to survive if they were in the wild.
The African Grey Parrot's permanent cage should be spacious enough to allow for them to flap their wings without hitting the sides of the cage. They should also be able to swing without obstruction, and there should be plenty of room for lots of toys. By the time the African Grey moves to their permanent cage, they should be "stepping-up" either to the hand, or to a portable perch. The cage door should be large enough to accommodate your parrot on a hand, passing through the door without them having to duck. Many birds are already uncomfortable with the idea of passing through an opening from one space to another, so a door that can accommodate this movement without any undue stress is optimal.
Every African Grey Parrot is different. One parrot may feel comfortable in a smaller, more intimate cage, and be stressed if the cage is too large. Another parrot may feel claustrophobic in a cage that they deem to be too small. There may be some trial and error in choosing the perfect cage as well as the perfect arrangement of perches, and so on. Changes in height can lead to changes in attitude. These parrots can be very sensitive to height. A confident parrot may begin to seem territorial or aggressive. This type of behavior may be improved by lowering the perches inside the cage. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between fear, and aggression. Either can stimulate the fight-or-flight response, and regardless of whether it is fear or aggression, the first reaction will likely be nipping or biting. A shy bird may be helped by raising the perches in the cage, to provide them with a feeling of security.