When discussing bird toys, there are two very common statements made: “I don’t give my bird toys anymore, she never plays with them.” and “Whenever I get my bird new toys, he just destroys them.” Do either of these sound familiar? Read on…
Toys are multi-tasking things. They should be fun, educational, provide challenges and satisfy a bird’s instinctive needs. They are there to fill the void that a caged bird might feel with limited space and social activity. They exist to be chewed on, smacked around, yelled at and reduced to splinters. An utterly annihilated toy, is one that has been most enjoyed. So, to the guy who laments over his bird’s destroyed toys: well done. You found the perfect toy for your bird! For the guy whose bird doesn’t play with toys: keep looking! You just haven’t found what interests her yet.
Toys are there for the use and enjoyment of your bird. While we may think that the giraffe shaped pinata is adorable, your bird may have no interest in that type of toy. I will venture to say that most parrots really don’t care that a toy looks like a monkey or a snowflake. In fact, your bird has no idea what either of those things are. It is the texture and functionality of the toy that interests your bird. Be careful not to buy the toys that are appealing to only you.
Once you get a feel for the types of materials your bird prefers and makes the best use of, look into the different types of toys available that have that composition. Try, also, to get a feel for the activities your bird prefers. My umbrella cockatoo loves to put things inside of other things. Often I find he has jammed bits of wood into any crevices he can find in his cage.
Once you decide what your bird’s preferences are, look into these options:
- Foraging toys: Foraging for food is an activity that occupies a great deal of a wild bird’s day. Our companion birds benefit both mentally and physically when we create a foraging environment for them in their cages.
- Wood/shreddables: Your bird has an innate need to chew. Gouging out a tree cavity or creating materials to line a nest are behaviors performed by your parrot’s wild cousins. This is hard wired into companion parrots as well. Providing toys that satisfy this urge will hopefully make the furniture less appealing.
- Preening toys: These are great for the bird who would spend hours on your shoulder grooming your hair. If you suspect your bird is an over-preener, or might be heading in the direction of feather destruction, these types of toys might distract him from that.
Toys are an essential part to your parrot’s well-being. Unused toys in the cage are no better than no toys in the cage. Observation and a little inexpensive experimentation will give the info you need to provide just the perfect ones for your bird. The pictured toys and more are available in our store.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.