Cotton Perches Can Be Exceptionally Dangerous.

I wrote a long post for today and was nearly ready to put it up, but just as I was getting ready to proofread, our cockatiel, Mishka (returned home not an hour ago), got thread from her favourite rope perch wrapped around her neck.

She squealed.

I turned, and saw immediately what was wrong. She likes to hide her head under cloth, hair, or the poofy thing at the top of the spiral rope perch.


Spiral Perch
The offending perch – image from Pets at Home.

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before. But whatever the case, she was struggling to pull away. I knew if I didn’t get in there, she would break her neck.

I flung open her cage door. I fumbled it a bit – I felt a bit distanced, almost, I dunno, floaty. Shock? Is that silly? Everything felt the tiniest bit slower, which was a good thing. I had time to react.

Mishka was flapping her wings in utter terror, but I put a hand over her back to stop her from struggling and got my other wrist under her feet. She went still. I thought for a moment that that was good.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps she was dead. She wasn’t moving. I didn’t know if she could even breathe.

I said her name, and she blinked. She was watching me… trustingly. The vague, distant thought that I’m good in a crisis and hadn’t yet panicked (yet) flicked through my head. Mishka began to struggle again, so I said in my calmest voice, ‘Easy. Good Mishka, good girl, shhh,’ or something like that. Suddenly she scrambled off my arm and back onto the rope perch to ‘fight’ it.

I thought she was going to die.

Got my arm back under her. Soothed her again. Tried to pull the threads off, but she bit me.

I had no way to cut her free – the damn scissors, which are usually on the desk a matter of feet behind me, had been cleaned up. WHY? And I was home alone.

I decided I’d try to get the rope perch down instead. Take her to the scissors. But I couldn’t. The bolt thing attaching it to the ceiling was stuck.

Mishka bit me again and again, but managed not to break any skin. Ow. She was yelling properly now and had got a foot tangled in the poofy thing as well. I wondered if I should let her go and grab my mobile off the desk. I thought maybe I could phone O. at work – but knew that even if I could keep Mishka calm that long, it would be at least 45 minutes before he could get to us. I wasn’t sure that work would even let him go. Bird rescue?

Besides, I figured that if I let go of my bird even for a moment, she’d fall and snap her neck. From the way she fought earlier, I was surprised that she hadn’t already.

I have never been so scared.

I lifted her higher to try and loosen the threads a bit. She was struggling less, and again, I didn’t know if this was good or bad.

And then suddenly Mishka was free. I don’t know how – perhaps it was a combination of me trying to unravel her, or if she just slipped out herself, but she was free. I noticed a bit belatedly that she was running up my shoulder… I pushed the cage door shut.

With her safely freed, and once I’d checked that she was okay physically, I allowed myself to finally have a panic moment.

Mishka is asleep on my shoulder now – completely unusual behaviour for her. Poor, poor girl. I will never buy a rope perch again.

But it ended okay. I’m so relieved. If I hadn’t been home… if I hadn’t been in the room… It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Please, if you own a rope perch for your birds, be careful. It might be you next time, and it might not end so well. I’m only glad that Mishka trusted me enough to help her get free.

16 thoughts on “Cotton Perches Can Be Exceptionally Dangerous.

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  1. I regret to admit I’ve had that moment where time slows down, and full of panic for the safety of birdy. Coming inside from my parent’s lanai, Rex got spooked off my shoulder and flew all the way into their bedroom…where the two mini schnauzers happened to be.

    I found him on the floor, wet from two noses being shoved in his face. o__o Our older dog was actually keeping the puppy off Rex, it was insane. Stupid lucky.

    Thank goodness Mishka is OK, I hope she’s getting lots of rest tonight.


    1. Ugh, I wrote out a comment… and then apparently WordPress deleted it. But Poor Rex! That was really lucky. He must look just like a fuzzy tennis ball to a puppy. :/


    1. Yep, who would have thought that would have happened, though? I’ve heard that manila rope is good alternative to cotton, too – doesn’t fray. I think I’ll have to give that a go – I’m going to try a nautical site first and make my own.


      1. Careful that it’s not treated with anything 🙂

        I have a twisted sisal that I got from drs smith and foster and it’s lasted forever and no fraying. I’m getting more and getting rid of the cotton.


        1. The rope site was recommended by a bird rescue, so I hope it’s okay… I should probably contact the company, though. I’d definitely prefer to use Drs Smith and Foster, but unfortunately they don’t ship international.

          I haven’t found any really good pet supply shops over here, to be honest. Hence attempting to make my own things!


  2. I’m so glad she’s alright. I unfortunately lost a budgie in a similar way with a link toy, I’ll never get over that, it was awful and I almost lost a cockatiel on different toy that she nearly hung herself on, thank god I was in the room then and just happened to look over cause she didn’t scream, its so scary how easily they can hurt themselves on things.


    1. Oh no, that’s so sad! I can’t imagine… :/ I know that after Mishka was okay, I went over literally everything in the birds’ cages, checking for anything that might catch a beak or limb. It is very scary. :/


  3. I’m so sorry; that must have been terrifying! I had a similar experience (though a somewhat less terrifying one, it would seem, as it didn’t last that long) with Citrus–he was cruising around on the floor one day and my (heavy, metal and hard plastic) viola case, which had been propped against my bed, started to slide down! I knew it was going to crush him, so I executed a heroic and comical dive to slap it out of the way–thankfully I don’t think Citrus even suspected he was in any danger. Afterwards he crawled up my arm to my shoulder and whistled cheerfully in my ear. He’s convinced he’s invincible. o_0 The things they do…


    1. Birds are masters of scaring their humans, I think. Ptak definitely thinks he’s invincible, too. There is a reason why his recent favourite words are, ‘You SILLY bird.’ -_- At least Citrus was okay! I’m sure he was laughing inwardly at your heroic dive.


    1. Too true. I keep looking at the birds’ toys in new ways – anything with rope on it is for playing under supervision, only. I won’t risk anything, be it toes, beaks, or necks, getting caught again!


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