How To Make DIY Bird Perches From Tree Branches
High-quality natural wood bird perches are expensive.
If you’ve already tried searching for them on Amazon or other online retail sites, you definitely know this already.
And in today’s world, it’s getting much more difficult for us to pay these hefty prices.
Luckily, there is a cost-effective way to get your hands on high-quality natural wood perches for your beloved bird…
And that is to make your own homemade bird perches from tree branches you find outside!
It might seem difficult, but it’s quite a simple process.
Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to making DIY bird perches using wild tree branches.
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- Step 1: Selecting The Tree/Wood
- Step 2: Cutting The Perfect Tree Branch
- Step 3: Sterilising & Disinfecting The Tree Branch
- Step 4: Installing The Hardware Into The Perch
- What Happens If The Wood Splits During Installation?
- Step 5: Attaching Your New Perch To The Cage
- Short Summary
Step 1: Selecting The Tree/Wood
Before running outside to collect some random nearby wood, you need to be aware that certain woods are toxic to birds.
Some examples of toxic tree woods include:
Some examples of safe tree woods include:
- Eucalyptus (Gum tree)
Obviously, these are not complete lists.
There are simply too many trees to list them all here in this article.
Thankfully, Mario D. Vaden has taken the time to create a list of safe and toxic woods for birds.
Even if the wood is safe, most city trees get treated with chemicals or pesticides on a regular basis.
You cannot use wood from those trees.
Finding out what trees get treated in your area is as simple as ringing up and asking your local council.
They’ll be able to tell you, or they’ll transfer you to someone who can.
Here’s the reason why you need to avoid toxic trees:
The wood from toxic trees contains substances that can cause serious illness or even death to parrots who chew on them.
And you won’t be able to stop a parrot from chewing any wood you place in the cage.
If you’re unsure if the wood is 100% safe and free from chemicals, don’t use it.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially with your feathered friends.
Step 2: Cutting The Perfect Tree Branch
Once you’ve found a tree that is 100% safe (and legal to cut from), it’s time to cut off a branch to use as your bird’s perch.
This is the fun part!
You get to choose how thick or thin, how many branches, and how long this new perch will be.
That’s the beauty of homemade bird perches.
Here’s what you should consider when cutting off your tree branch:
- The size and weight of your bird
- The size of the cage
- Where you plan to use the perch
- Where the base of the perch will be (this is where you’ll insert the hardware later)
- How many branches you want on your perch
You should also consider how much surface variety is on the tree branch.
Having lots of bumps, shapes, and thicknesses on one perch provides great surface variety to your bird’s feet, keeping them healthy.
Try to cut the most interestingly shaped branch to create an interesting bird perch.
Note: Cutting tree branches for your bird’s perch can be done with a small handsaw.
Step 3: Sterilising & Disinfecting The Tree Branch
Ok, this is the not-so-fun part of the process.
Cleaning the branches you just chopped off is a whole process on its own.
But it’s a VERY important process that cannot be skipped.
Wild tree branches are not clean.
They carry bacteria, diseases, bugs, moulds, fungi, wild bird poop and other things that can harm your bird.
For this reason, they need to be properly cleaned before being offered to your bird.
Here’s my 6-step process for sterilising wild tree branches:
- Debark the branch – Bark is the perfect hiding spot for bugs and bacteria, therefore it should be removed. You could do this before or after step 3, which is soaking the branch in the vinegar solution.
- Prepare a bathtub of vinegar solution – Prepare a bathtub of apple cider vinegar solution (an equal ratio of water and ACV). Bleach is also an option but I personally use apple cider vinegar as it’s not as intoxicating to birds.
- Soak the branch in the vinegar solution – Add your recently cut tree branch to the bathtub and let it soak for around 2 hours in the vinegar solution. This will help wash off any bugs or mould. If you haven’t yet removed the bark, you must remove it after it’s been soaking and then let the debarked branch soak for an additional hour.
- Empty bath of vinegar solution and refill with plain water – After the branch has been soaked in vinegar solution and is debarked, it’s time to give it a soak in plain water. This is to remove some of the vinegar. If you didn’t want to soak it in the bath, you could rinse it in the shower.
- Cook the tree branch – After the vinegar solution has been rinsed, the next step is to cook the perch in the oven for an hour. Set the oven to around 90 degrees C (194 F). This will help dry the branch as well as kill any bugs or germs that didn’t get removed during the vinegar solution soaking.
- Let the branch sit in the sun for several days – Leaving the tree branch outside in the sun for a few days (up to a week) will ensure that all germs are dead and that the perch is properly sanitised. If you used bleach to soak the branch, sunlight will also remove any toxic bleach residue. Make sure you place the branch in a spot that is dry and is hit by direct sunlight for most of the day. Bring the branch inside at night and when it rains to ensure it doesn’t get wet. If you don’t want the branch outside, you could also set it near a screen door that is hit with direct sunlight for most of the day.
After following this process correctly, your new perch is all clean!
Now, all you have to do is install the hardware into the branch and find a place to attach the perch.
Step 4: Installing Hardware Into The Tree Branch
You’ll need a few tools and some pieces of hardware to turn this tree branch into a perch that can be easily attached to your bird’s cage.
Here’s what you’ll need (for each perch):
- 1 hanger bolt (screw that goes into the perch)
- 2 fender washers
- 1 wingnut
These items are available at most hardware stores…
Or you could just buy them here on Amazon
The linked bundle includes:
- 16 fender washers
- 8 wingnuts
- 8 hanger bolts
- And a drill bit slightly smaller than the hanger bolts
Before you continue reading, you should have these items or at least know what they are.
A quick Google search of the listed items will show you exactly what they look like.
As well as those pieces of hardware, you’ll also need a power drill.
The drill will be used to install the hanger bolts into the tree branch.
So, let’s go through this process.
Creating A Pilot Hole
Before installing the hanger bolt, you should drill a pilot hole into the tree branch where you want to install the screw.
A pilot hole is simply a small starting hole that will help guide larger screws.
Pilot holes can prevent wood splitting and will help you install the hanger bolt more accurately.
To create a pilot hole, you should use a drill bit that is around the same size or slightly smaller than the hanger bolt. Attach the drill bit to the power drill and create a pilot hole at the base of the branch.
If this perch is going all the way across the cage, you’ll need to create a pilot hole at both ends of the branch to secure the perch from both ends.
Next is installing the hanger bolt…
Installing The Hanger Bolt Into The Tree Branch
For clarification, this is what we’ll be attaching to the tree branch:
The pointed end is what’s going to get screwed into the wood while the flat end will be poking out.
You can attach the hanger bolt to most power drills.
Once you have it attached, drill the hanger bolt into the perch where the pilot hole is.
Do this part carefully to avoid splitting the wood.
Drill half the hanger bolt into the perch…
The entire “screw” side of the bolt should be inside the perch while the “flat” side of the bolt should be poking out and ready for fender washers and a wingnut to attach it to the cage bars.
Once you drill in the hanger bolt far enough, detach the power drill from the screw.
If everything was done right, the hanger bolt should be securely drilled into the tree branch:
What Happens If The Wood Splits During Installation?
But what do you do if the wood splits during the hanger bolt installation?
If it’s only a short split near the base, you can just cut a few inches off the perch.
You could also wrap it up in vet tape, covering the split.
However, if the split goes all the way along the perch, there isn’t too much you can do and may need to obtain a new branch.
It’s dangerous for birds to have severely split wood in their cage as they can get their feet or nails caught in the split.
Branches that become split are also weaker and can support less weight.
Therefore, if you own a cockatoo or a macaw, a split perch might not be able to support their weight.
I personally believe it’s best to just replace any severely damaged perches or wood.
Step 5: Attaching Your New Perch To The Cage
So, you have a freshly cleaned tree branch that now has a hanger bolt poking out of it…
It’s time to finally put this perch inside your birds cage!
This is where you’ll use the fender washers and wingnuts.
When attaching the perch to the cage bars, you’ll need to have one washer on both sides of the bars.
The washers, perch, and cage bars will all be tightly connected using the wingnut:
As well as how to connect perches, you should also be aware of the best placement for natural wood perches inside a bird cage.
Perch placement is very important for a number of reasons.
Your main focus should be on how your bird is going to use the perch.
Birds primarily use perches for sleeping, playing with toys, eating, and preening.
When placing your newly constructed tree branch perch, you should aim to accommodate one or more of these activities. For example, you should set the perch up high in the cage for sleeping or you can attach it near a food bowl for eating.
Every perch in and around your bird’s cage should have a purpose in mind.
Even if that purpose is just somewhere to hang out.
Hopefully, you found everything helpful and easy to understand.
Although some folks don’t mind paying hefty prices for quality wood perches, I know that some, if not most people would much rather make their own bird perches from wild tree branches and save themselves some money.
Now, I just want to summarise every step we went through in this 5-step guide:
- Step 1: Selecting the wood/tree branch
- Step 2: Cutting the perfect tree branch
- Step 3: Sterilising & disinfecting the wood
- Step 4: Installing the hardware into the branch
- Step 5: Attaching your newly constructed perch to the cage
If you had trouble installing the hardware into the branch or you need a video demonstration of what to do, I highly recommend you watch this video from WingsNpaws:
This is probably the most helpful video on creating homemade bird perches from tree branches.
Creating DIY perches for your bird is definitely a lengthy process.
Although it takes a bit of effort, it’s definitely worth it when you have a brand-new natural wood perch that your parrot loves!
For those who don’t want to go through that process:
Check out the: Top 10 Best Natural Wood Perches For Birds In 2023
The link takes you to my top 10 picks for the best wood perches available online.
I took special care on that list to ensure that all perches are actually natural wood and haven’t been treated with any harmful chemicals.
Thank you for reading.