It appears The Hero has found himself captured. But where would the evil overlord put him? Seems a regular prison isn't around or just wouldn't do.
So the bad guy sticks The Hero in a birdcage. This is usually done both to legitimately keep him locked away and to taunt him. On some occasions, the animal may be kept in the cage with the hero. Note that it doesn't necessarily have to be a birdcage, but is the most common form of this trope.
Another common invocation of this trope is when the Team Pet is captured along with the hero. The hero will usually be placed in a normal prison while the Team Pet is confined in the birdcage.
This becomes even more common when a character is shrunk or otherwise much smaller than their captor(s).
- Puck winds up in a birdcage when he is captured by the Count in the Guardians of Desire arc of Berserk, and spends some time getting to know the Count's daughter Theresia.
- In Deadman Wonderland, the Carnival of Corpses is shaped like a giant birdcage, fitting in with the whole 'bird' motif of the Deadmen.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, one of the Witches that Homura fights, named Roberta, seems to be a pair of disembodied legs in a dark birdcage. The stripper motif is augmented by her Familiars, weird bird-men who crowd around her and whom she apparently hates. Note that, like all Witches, she used to be a Magical Girl, so the "trapped hero" idea still fits.
- Played for laughs in Yaiba, with a cover showing Yaiba holding a shrunken Kotaro (a resurrected ninja who just turned into a bird man) in a bird cage.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena: Symbolic example: Anthy's rose garden is inside a birdcage-shaped greenhouse, emblemizing her mysterious imprisonment as the "Rose Bride" instead of a more literal cage. The fact that she can technically leave this "cage" - but chooses to stay - also hints that she's imprisoned by more than physical or magical means.
- In Mega Man: The Series, a shrunken Mega is placed in a hamster cage.
- In Sunset Eclipsed, Sunset Shimmer is teleported into a cage suspended from the ceiling of a cave, where Lord Umbriel happens to be waiting for her.
- In the Fairly Oddparents fanfiction, Never Had A Friend Like Me, Timmy and Amanda end up in a giant birdcage after the pixies and anti-fairies kidnap the boy.
- We get two examples of this trope in Olivia Goes West, a crossover between The Great Mouse Detective and An American Tail.
- After Professor Ratigan survives his fall from Big Ben by landing into Cat R. Waul's sandwich in the prologue, he falls unconscious. He wakes up caged in a birdcage, aboard a ship sailing to America and being offered by Waul a partnership (which he accepts).
- During the last third of the story, Fievel and Olivia spend several weeks trapped in one of the birdcages of Jebediah's gold mine. When they're locked up, they're told that the cages' original purpose was to keep around birds that would die in toxic gas leaks and warn humans about them in time.
- In Heart of Fire, the first part of The Heart Trilogy, Smaug first captures Kathryn because of her beautiful singing. The dragon initially keeps the human female locked in a giant birdcage until he's convinced that keeping her in the cage won't do good to her singing voice. He returns her to the cage after her failed escape attempt, but they soon make a truce, and the cage is never again used.
- The Parselmouth of Gryffindor has Grindelwald brought to Hogwarts in a large, enchanted birdcage.
- Fievel is put in a cage in An American Tail after Warren and the Mott Street Maulers catch him. He is taken out after befriending his jail guard, Tiger.
- The Lion King: When Scar takes over Pride Rock, he traps Zazu inside an animal's ribcage. Also this seems to also be to keep the hyenas out, as they would likely eat Zazu if nothing else was available.
- Pinocchio: Pinocchio is locked in a cage by the evil puppeteer Stromboli to keep him from going back home.
- In The Secret Of Nimh, Mrs. Brisby is caught inside the farmhouse by a human boy and put in a cage. She makes a daring escape after learning that NIMH is coming for the rats.
- In Valiant, the one captured in the first few minutes of the film and Bugsy were, naturally, imprisoned in a birdcage. Justified as they are birds and all.
- In The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, the shrunken princess is kept in a birdcage.
- On The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The King of the Moon puts the Baron and Sally in a birdcage, where they find the Baron's old friend Berthold.
- In the sexploitation film The Arena, two female slaves (one of them Pam Grier), are brought to a Roman orgy inside a golden cage. The poster for Women in Cages also has this, despite the movie being a completely different trope.
- Batman Returns sticks Max Shreck in one of these when Penguin crashes his ball. Penguin intends to make him watch as the kids he's kidnapping sink into a deep puddle of Shreck's industrial byproducts before making him join them. Shreck gets out when the Organ Grinder's monkey gives him a key, but unfortunately for Shreck, Catwoman hasn't even started with her revenge on him.
- The 1951 version of Othello starts with a How We Got Here scene where the villain, Iago, is hung outside the walls of a citadel in a cage, presumably until he dies.
- Artemis Fowl: At the end of The Lost Colony, one bloodthirsty villain gets his mind trapped into the body of a hamster. He is then put into a small cage, where scientists throw toy swords into the cage and watch him try to pick them up.
- In The Hollows, Rachel Morgan gets turned into a mink, and stuck in a cage.
- When Tristran gets turned into a mouse in Stardust, this happens to him.
- In Masques, Aralorn, undercover as a slave at the time, is put into a giant bird cage. And then, an illusion that makes her look like a snow falcon is placed on the cage.
- Doctor Who: In "Last of the Time Lords", the Master keeps an artificially-aged Doctor in a birdcage to humiliate him.
- One of the obstacles on the game show Double Dare is a giant birdcage.
- In Fraggle Rock, a shrunken Mokey is placed in a dollhouse.
- Happens to Tony and Roger in a episode of I Dream of Jeannie.
- An episode of Lost incorporates Sawyer locked away in one.
- Rome. Titus Pullo keeps rival ganglord Memmio in a cage to Make an Example of Them, feeding him on scraps like a dog. Unfortunately he's able to pick the lock and comes looking for revenge.
- Dungeons & Dragons. The Prison of Zagyg was a magic item in the form of a small birdcage. When the command word was given, the victim was shrunk to 3 inches high and stored in the cage.
- In Scribblenauts and Super Scribblenauts, you can do this to anyone you shrink.
- In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life The Videogame, there is a group of sailors who are trapped in a birdcage.
- In the video game adaptation of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, AM, when not playing games with them, holds his 5 human playthings in birdcages, each one specifically built to exploit the weaknesses of whoever is inside.
- In the Teen Titans episode "How to Make A Titananimal Disappear", Raven is turned into a rabbit and then housed in a birdcage.
- Not only is The Tick shrunk and put in a birdcage, he is also turned into a two-headed bird that speaks French.
- In the first episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 the heroes, sans Mario, are placed in a giant parrot cage by a pack of recently giant-sized Koopa Kids.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! one of the maximum security prisons for supervillains is like this. They are shrunk using some of Hank Pym's technology, so the prison is small enough to fit on a large table.
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode "A Gummi in a Gilded Cage" sees Sunni captured and stuck in a birdcage to serve as the Vulture King's 'songbird'.
- In the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Zipper Come Home", Chip, Dale and Gadget are trapped in a bird cage by a tribe of beetles, and placed near a rising river that threatens to drown them if they don't get out in time.
- The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Stop, Look, and Ed" ends with the Eds hanging from a tree in a cage made of hockey sticks after Edd calls everybody's parents due to everyone else committing anarchy.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Zatanna does this to Abra Kadabra in "Chill of the Night!".
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Trixie traps the Mayor in a giant birdcage after taking over Ponyville in the episode "Magic Duel".
- In the second part of the Demon World duology in Jackie Chan Adventures, Viper is first introduced while being locked up in a birdcage and having to sing for Hsi Wu the Sky Demon.
Hsi Wu: Sing for me my little caged songbird.Viper: Twit, twit.
- Happens to Wilykat in the ''ThunderCats (1985)" episode "The Tower of Traps". While investigating the titular tower, he gets caught in a trap which leaves him imprisoned in a cage suspended from the treasure room's ceiling. Lion-O and Wilykit must get past the rest of the traps and reach the top of the tower in order to rescue him.
- One episode of Sky Dancers had Queen Skyla, in her shrunken Sky Dancer form, imprisoned in a cage and taunted by the imps comparing her to a bird.