Through the centuries, bird cages have been made out of a variety of materials to display, and keep birds safe. In 900 to 1340 A.D. the Pre-Columbian Paquime Indians, in the Mexican state of
housed Scarlet Macaws in adobe structures similar to their own pueblo style
homes. The Paquime raised and bred Scarlet
Macaws in order to harvest their beautiful features for religious ceremonies.
In the 14th century, it was in vogue with the wealthy nobility in
Europe to own beautiful handmade
bird cages to hold exotic birds collected from around the world. Many cages were made of iron or brass wire
while some of the more beautiful and expensive examples were made from mahogany
and brass, and were fitted with silver or porcelain bowls to hold food and
water for their occupants.
By the 17th and 18th centuries it again became popular for wealthy Europeans to collect exotic birds, and house them in elaborate and expensive bird cages. During this collecting craze, French and Dutch artisans were commissioned to make ornate cages to delight their noble clientele. Some of the most spectacular bird cages of this period were made to resemble elaborate architectural structures for their wealthy owners. During the 18th century, Chinese artisans also made elaborate bird cages out of a variety of materials which included bamboo, wicker, wood, rattan and reed.
At the turn of the 20th century, many people throughout the world collected birds and housed them in painted tin cages. By the 1920’s, these tin bird cages were replaced by beautiful brass cages, which were suspended from matching bird cage stands.
Today, very few antique bird cages survive because many of these structures were made of materials that birds eventually chewed through. Many of the early bird cages also contained lead based materials, which we now know is toxic to their occupants.
Antique bird cages continue to hold the allure of far off places and they add another layer of sophistication to a variety of decors, which continues to make them highly prized by both collectors and decorators alike.