For the do-it-yourself-ers out there that like to keep your parrots in on the holiday celebrations, I’ve come up with some fun ways to do so with both your kids and your parrots. Along with some tips and tricks at keeping it 100% parrot-safe.
For a list of toxic and non-toxic woods/foliage/plants, you may download our free Household Dangers e-book:
Craft #1 – The Wooden, Cardboard or Leather Stocking
Simply cut a piece of wood, cardboard or leather into the shape of a stocking and give it to your bird as its stocking! You won’t believe how thorough a parrot can be when gnawing through a piece of wood or chewing up some fabulous cardboard! The leather will take them far longer to destroy!
- The best bird safe woods for this project is pine for the medium to large birds and a soft wood like balsa for the little birds.
- Make sure your cardboard does not have glue, tape or ink on it.
- All leather for parrots should be vegetable tanned only.
Craft #2 – Home Made Christmas Wreath
I made a tea-wreath for my mother in law last year, and she loved it. I included both my favorite tea and my husband’s to make it special, plus a few others I thought she would personally enjoy too and it gave me the idea for doing something safe for the birds so they could also enjoy a wreath for the holidays!
You can make your entire Christmas wreath from cardboard OR you can find clothes pins that don’t have metal in them (usually craft stores have these) and use those along with vegetable tanned leather strips and wooden beads to get more of a look like this:
The key to making things bird safe is using bird-safe woods that are UNTREATED with anything – this means that the wood has not been pressure treated with dangerous chemicals to make it weather resistant and is not varnished, painted or sprayed with anything. If you’re really into color you can use bird-safe vegetable dyes, and you can smear some home made nut butter on the clothes pins and sprinkle crushed cranberries, coconut and broccoli over them to make them colorful and edible for your bird. Just make sure you take it away before any of the food goes bad.
Craft # 3 – Reindeer Foot Toy Foraging Bags
These foraging toys and treats are so cute! The key to making them bird safe is to use any brown paper bag and decorate only using bird safe foods – so small slices of olives are OK for birds in moderation and will make the perfect reindeer eyes. You can use agave nectar or home made nut butters to stick things on and fill the bag with goodies your bird likes such as small pieces of leftover toys that have been cleaned for re-use and some treats, too. If your bird is nervous about it, poke some holes to let your bird know there’s worthwhile stuff inside!
Craft #4 – Cornucopias
Cornucopias make GREAT foraging toys and they fit into the theme of Thanksgiving! Remember, no using glues or paints (you can, however, use veggie dyes and food like beets and such for natural coloring). Simply use natural twine rope to make the cornucopia easily hung from the cage. You can poke a hole in the circular part and make a big knot once you stick it through so it won’t come back out. This is great for small birds especially. You can then fill the inside with goodies like wooden beads, small pieces of rope, small pieces of wood, leather and treats.
For the main part of the cornucopia simply use plain paper and sew it together also.
Some ideas for filling your bird’s cornucopia:
- If you provide it as a food toy (like the bottom one pictured) you can really stuff it with things. If you provide it as a hanging toy in the cage, you won’t be able to add as much weight to it.
- Use leftover toys or pieces of toys your bird has dropped to the bottom so that you’re reusing the good stuff. Just clean it off first.
- Bird safe and edible flowers like pansies, daisies, gladiolus, roses and petunias. Unless you grow flowers in your own garden, you can’t be sure they are free of pesticides. It is often safer and easier to buy edible flowers from an organic store.
- Filling them with edible and fun things like wheat grass, kale, pieces of fresh spinach and other leafy greens is fun and gets your bird introduced to new foods and textures.
- Wrap treats up in small pieces of paper and stuff them in too. Poke small holes in the paper or don’t wrap it too tight to encourage a new bird into foraging around.
- Add color with veggie dyes and natural food dyes.
Take a toilet paper roll and cut out the eyes (just make holes which you can either stick some food through or leave empty) and cut a triangle for the nose. Use some beet juice (or use this) to make the red part of the turkey in the front… no idea what that’s called… wattle? Then use bird safe colored paper (veggie dyed) and attach it by sewing it on with needle and thread.
Here is how to do simple to hard stitches on paper, you just literally poke holes and poke your needle through, tie it off and you’re done! Super simple and bird safe:
Craft #6 – The Pine Cone Turkey
What you need:
- Popsicle stick (wooden, unused)
- Pine cone (any size, the bigger the better for larger birds and the smaller for small birds – also untreated)
- Veggie dyed construction paper
- Wheat grass or other leafy greens
This is a longer lasting turkey, especially because you could sew the bottom of the paper to the turkey to make it really hold and last. Then you can hide goodies for your bird throughout the fanned paper. Use cardboard as the main turkey part and decorate with veggies like squash or corn for the beak and poke holes for eyes.
Craft #8 – Dry Pasta Turkey
Use a plain piece of paper and cut two circles of brown paper to act as your turkey. Stick the small one to the large one with agave nectar. Then cut some orange paper for the feet and beak and attach them the same way. You can write on the paper with beet juice (try not to get it on your clothes or hands – it stains!)
Then stick the pieces of pasta on with agave nectar or home made nut butter to decorate. Use seeds for eyes. Let your bird play with this on a flat surface like a table or counter top as it won’t hold together long! Nor does it need to!
Craft #9 – Indian Hat
This is a fun one as some birds will actually don’t mind you putting a hat on them. Plus I love the detail of cutting into the paper to make it really look like feathers! You can always make yourself one using your bird’s molted feathers but don’t encourage your bird to play with his feathers as it can lead to encouraging plucking or over preening behaviors.
Poke holes in the hat part and put natural fiber twine through with a knot, then let a certain length dangle down and string on wooden beads, popcorn and cranberries and tie a knot at the end to hold them on for some extra play.
Craft #10 – Thankful For’s
Ink isn’t so great for parrots so you will need to use non-toxic edible markers OR write in something like beet juice. Write things your bird is grateful for on leaf cut outs and hang them from your bird’s cage bars all over so it has plenty to play with and destroy!
Some ideas to get you started:
- Hang with rope, twine or even from bird safe branches by sticking them onto the ends of the branch.
- Use different colors and shapes and sizes of leaves. You can even use real leaves that are bird safe.
- Things my birds are grateful for are: random rain showers, pets, training time, when I make it to the bowl before Jinx, mushy berries, free flight trips.
The true fun part about this one (it goes the same as the leaves by hanging them around the cage for winter/Christmas) but this time you can include your bird on the process of creating the snowflake! So show off your skills and let your bird show off theirs as well! I am sure they will come up with something… interesting. I mean, beautiful!
Craft #12 – The Ultimate Stuffed Turkey
You can use a Popsicle stick as the head of the turkey (unused, of course) and construction paper for the feet and tail (or even natural bird safe leaves) then stuff the turkey with all sorts of things from newspaper to wooden beads, popcorn and leftover toys plus treats! Watch your bird un-stuff the turkey!
Craft #13 – Sewn Up Pumpkins
Take your veggie dyed paper and cut it into strips. You will sew (with natural fiber twine) a point at the bottom and a point at the top with all the pieces in place. Likely you can fit something light inside for your bird to discover or just put in some pieces of paper balled up inside and use it as a foot toy for your bird! This is definitely going to take you longer to make than it will your bird to destroy!
Craft #14 – Open Foraging Cups
All you need:
- Paper cups
- Veggie dyed paper
- Needle and bird safe twine
- Yummy bird safe stuff to put inside!
Photo credits: ConsumerCrafts.com, ModernHouseInsight.com, Subtle-tee.blogspot.com/2010/12/monkey-see-monkey-love.html, Spoonful.com, Makeandtakes.com, Scoop.it, Pinterest.com, Embroidery.about.com, Mymontessorihome.com, Kidsfunandgames.net, Pacon.com, Instructables.com, Crafts.kids.kaboose.com, Allkidsnetwork.com, Billiesthanksgiving.blogspot.com.
Jamieleigh Womach has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.