How We Made a Tree Stand that Would’ve Cost a Mortgage Payment for $24

 

“You can have a bird or a bank account, not both.”



Truer words had never been spoken, and they were spoken to me by the sales associate of my local pet store, ringing up my 3rd $200+ purchase of bird toys that month. The particular statement was made when I asked him how expensive some of the larger java wood tree stands in the store were.

(Oh, and forget those store bought toys! Get your All-Natural, Non-toxic Parrot Toys by monthly subscription and SAVE!)

You see, I had already done my research online about large tree stands but had a sliver of hope that maybe in the stores they would be cheaper...That hope was soon shot down. Alas, it seemed if I wanted a nice large stand for my two blue and gold macaws, it was going to be costing me almost as much as a mortgage payment.


Now, when I say tree stand, I’m not talking a few small branches here and there for them to stand on. Those were running between $250-450 online and in the store (still a big chunk of change).

No, I wanted a play stand. I wanted a large area where they could climb and explore and chew on those hundreds of dollars of toys I was buying for them. I’m a bit paranoid about FDB (feather destructive behavior) and wanted something that I knew they wouldn’t get bored on, even if I had to leave one of them on it for a few hours during the day while I worked.

When I told my husband what it would cost, he laughed...and laughed...and continued laughing until I told him I was serious. I wanted one. I knew we didn’t have the money but my birds were my babies and I wanted nothing but the best for them.

When he mentioned doing one DIY, I cringed. I was terrible at DIY stuff and had no building talent whatsoever. But he was handy and had some tools and was up for the challenge, so I said ok. Best decision I ever made. 



First, we researched what woods were typically used for bird tree stands.

Dragonwood, Java, Manzanita... all hard, all gorgeous, all ridiculously expensive. No wonder large play trees cost so much! So that led us into researching what woods were and were not safe for birds.

We noticed that orange citrus wood was considered safe. It was local to us, and we knew of a grove that had not been fertilized as it had been on a friend’s property (she gave us permission to cut dead branches). Also, the branches tended to be curvy and unique on the trees, which was ideal for a good play stand. We also needed wood for a base, and we decided to go with 2 untreated pine 2x4x8s (do not get treated wood!!).  With our woods picked out and an idea in our heads, we set out to make this thing.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself  - “that wood is really soft! My birds would chew through that in an instant!” Yes, the woods we chose are softer woods. Yes, our birds do chew on them. But we have found that as long as we have toys on them, the birds choose to chew on the toys rather than the wood beneath their feet.

Also, we designed it with the explicit intention of being able to unscrew and replace parts quickly and easily as they got worn down or chewed off. But if you are worried about the softness of the woods, this design can be done with any type of wood you desire. 


MATERIALS USED!!

  • 2.5 inch stainless screws
  • 4 inch screws (we could not find them in stainless locally)

TOOLS NEEDED!!

  • Small electric pressure washer
  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Circular Saw
  • Pruning Saw (could be substituted for anything handheld and can cut through branches)
  • C – Clamps (could be substituted with strong people)
  • Saw horses (can be substituted with anything similar, buckets are great)
  • Level
  • Sand Paper
  • Squaring Tool / Straight Edge (optional)
  • Ear protection / Eye protection

INSTRUCTIONS

First, we went and cut branches off of dead trees that we liked. We decided not to use live trees as we didn’t want to take away from her possible orange harvest. We were aware of diameter, length, and “curviness” when cutting the branches.

Then, we prepped the 2x4x8s. First, each one was measured out to 5 feet. Then, using the Circular Saw, we cut through each one separately. Make sure not to damage the last 3 feet as this will be used later.

Then, take the 2 5-foot long pieces and place them on the Saw Horses stacked on top of each other. Try to make at least one of the ends line up perfectly. The more precise you can get, the more stable the stand will be. Use the C-Clamps on either end of the stacked wood.

Once those are in place, take the 2.5-inch stainless screws and begin drilling. We used a total of 8; 4 on one side 4 on the other, alternating on each one. We did not measure exactly the spacing, and you are welcome to use more screws if you desire.

Then, we began on the legs. Taking the 2 3-foot pieces still left over, measure out 2 feet on each and cut. Then, draw a diagonal line using a straight edge. We drew a diagonal such that the skinny ends of the feet would not be pointy, but instead have a small amount of height to them (about ½ inch). Once drawn, cut along the line using the circular saw.

Once complete, I sanded all the cut sides of all of the boards. Then, standing the now-screwed-together 5 foot pieces on end, begin with one leg and drill into the side of the base. Be careful of being level!! This is where taking your time will really make the stand more stable. Repeat for all 4.

Congrats!! The base of your stand is now made!

Now it’s on to those lovely branches you cut. 



First, we took the branches and trimmed some of the small, stick like ends. We also cut some of the longer branches. This part is entirely up to you and what your vision is for your tree and the area it will be in.

Then, we pressure washed all the branches. This was to remove any excess dirt, along with the dead bark along the wood. If the bark didn’t come off with pressure washing, we tried peeling it off. If it didn’t come off even after peeling, then we left it on. Once pressure washed, we allowed them to dry for 24 hours.

The final step is to arrange and screw the branches onto the base.

This is entirely up to you and depends on what branches you have. We kept in mind width and height, and also thought of areas where it would be great to hang toys. This is where we used the 4-inch screws, as the branches we used were pretty thick.

And that’s it...I promise (lol). 2 days of time and, for us, $24 (this was to purchase the 2x4s and screws).

It was a lot of work, but in the end we now have a tree 3 times the size of any I was looking at for literally a fraction of the cost. The birds love it, we love it, and our bank account loves it.

Now to figure out how to make all those toys they love so much...

Article by Ashlyn Kumanchik, a BirdTricks customer.

16 comments

Sherry Rand

Genius! Another summer project for us! Love love love the Hazardous Home pdf as well with the safe woods in it. Makes life so much easier.

Sherry Rand
Falcon Ward

One more add to my bird-safe wood post. The best source I’ve found for bird gym / tree stand ideas is Pinterest – hundreds of photos that will get your mind working on what magical wonderland you can create for your precious bird companion(s). Here’s one Pinterest page containing over 100 pics of DIY gyms/stands (it’s Australian but what difference does it make other than materials available locally – this is just for ideas; you’ll need to follow through with your own design and local/online “scavenger hunt.” Have fun – I find it to be a wonderful creative activity; so much fun, I want to keep building them but of course, space is limited. LOL https://www.pinterest.com.au/stargazercavies/diy-bird-stands-play-gyms/

Falcon Ward
Falcon Ward

I’ve been making bird play gyms using available local wood for 25 years. The key is to do your research and you may find like I do that your bird branches are right in your backyard or at least close by. I ran a parrot rescue in California and turned three rooms into an almost continuous parrot playground because of the abundant free wood growing all around us. I was in the Santa Cruz Mountains along the California Central Coast, surrounded by wilderness thick with manzanita and madrone. I simply hiked a ways in from the road to ensure the wood wouldn’t have human toxins like vehicle exhaust permeating the wood, chose and cut a variety of branch sizes and shapes, and hauled them back where of course, I went through a heavy duty cleaning and disinfection. The branches were far too big for oven curing, so I did that part naturally via multiple days in direct sunlight. They worked great. Four years ago I moved to Florida and brought only one of my rescue birds with me after rehoming the others and leaving the “bird family” with my ex. I thought I would have to pay the exorbitant prices charged for hardwoods here, so being retired and living on a pension, I held off building a gym until now. I had encountered the term “dragonwood” multiple times as a bird safe hardwood native to Florida but had no idea where to get it other than paying big bucks for it. But today I discovered I’ve had and been trimming “dragonwood” right here in my inherited “arboretum” (aka yard). It’s dracaena, that I have two very large patches of, growing 10-20 feet high with many branches in this lush semi-tropical climate. The moral of the story: Get to know your local plant life, including right in your own yard or within walking distance, especially the common and scientific name of it (the local nursery, garden club, or county or college extension organization are good sources). I walk around and take photos of possible candidates to show them to help with the ID. Then I match the identified candidates to the bird safe lists available here and many places online. That’s it – free, local bird perches of all shapes and sizes! Just make sure you go through the disinfection process recommended on sites like this.

Falcon Ward
Falcon Ward

I’ve been making bird play gyms using available local wood for 25 years. The key is to do your research and you may find like I do that your bird branches are right in your backyard or at least close by. I ran a parrot rescue in California and turned three rooms into an almost continuous parrot playground because of the abundant free wood growing all around us. I was in the Santa Cruz Mountains along the California Central Coast, surrounded by wilderness thick with manzanita and madrone. I simply hiked a ways in from the road to ensure the wood wouldn’t have human toxins like vehicle exhaust permeating the wood, chose and cut a variety of branch sizes and shapes, and hauled them back where of course, I went through a heavy duty cleaning and disinfection. The branches were far too big for oven curing, so I did that part naturally via multiple days in direct sunlight. They worked great. Four years ago I moved to Florida and brought only one of my rescue birds with me after rehoming the others and leaving the “bird family” with my ex. I thought I would have to pay the exorbitant prices charged for hardwoods here, so being retired and living on a pension, I held off building a gym until now. I had encountered the term “dragonwood” multiple times as a bird safe hardwood native to Florida but had no idea where to get it other than paying big bucks for it. But today I discovered I’ve had and been trimming “dragonwood” right here in my inherited “arboretum” (aka yard). It’s dracaena, that I have two very large patches of, growing 10-20 feet high with many branches in this lush semi-tropical climate. The moral of the story: Get to know your local plant life, including right in your own yard or within walking distance, especially the common and scientific name of it (the local nursery, garden club, or county or college extension organization are good sources). I walk around and take photos of possible candidates to show them to help with the ID. Then I match the identified candidates to the bird safe lists available here and many places online. That’s it – free, local bird perches of all shapes and sizes! Just make sure you go through the disinfection process recommended on sites like this.

Falcon Ward
JJ

Fantastic article, thank you!

JJ
Tameka

Brilliant! I mounted mine on a flat bottom and screwed on locking castors so I can move it for cleaning!

Tameka
Stephanie Malicoat

Hi! I’m currently in the process of building one of these bad boys for my Ruby Gold baby boy. I was wondering A) my husband is a tree trimmer and he was able to bring home some corkscrew willow branches does anyone have definitive yay or nay to the saftey of this particular wood? And B) Ive been told you need to bleach wood before using it (obviously 1/10 bleach ratio.) and then soak in just water. I wanted to be able to avoid bleaching as i dont actually have a tub thats as big as these branches and wanted to avoid cutting if necessary. Thanks so much for readin!

Stephanie Malicoat
Shan Putnam

Hi, great info! I have question about constructing hanging toys for my eclectus parrot. What type of string material should I use? Cheers from Bali, Shan

Shan Putnam
Iaine MacDonald

For anyone in the Southeast area, you can use Crepe Myrtle branches for this kind of thing. Im about to go get a bunch to make a couple of tree-stands myself :-)

Iaine MacDonald
Liz

Oh, how we love DIY at our house. Would never have thought of this though; just assumed we would never have the money and a big playground would be a no go. We have been prepping the house in anticipation of getting back into birds. Seeing this makes me believe we have the ability to make them a great habitat. Thank you! Love Bird Tricks!

Liz
Marilyn D

Since I’m not handy I’d love to find a bird stand guide that included a box-like base to catch what the bird drops. I love my bird and because she spends the entire day on her stand in my living room, mess containment is a priority for me. Sort of how her cage keeps most of the mess from scattering around her room at night.

Marilyn D
Liz

Thanks for posting this! I’ve been wanting to build something similar, but was worried about what type of wood to use for the base. I hope you have time to answer. So, what kind of wood are the 2 × 4’s? Is pine ok? I know not to use pressure treated, but do I need to ask if they’ve been treated with something else?

Liz
Jenna

Thank you so much!! We wanted to build play pens for the birds and I couldn’t find anywhere if it was alright to use screws to put the base together. I guess the birds probably won’t break it apart there. How do they attach toys like stiff ladders and things that the birds might break apart?

Jenna
mplo

Wow!! What a fantastic-looking tree that is! I’m sure that your two macaws are enjoying it no end! All the best.

mplo
mike

Any Mccaw training tips will help. Especially stop the screaming tips!! Thanks Mike

mike
Maureen Riley

You have no idea how much I appreciate this post, and the timing is pure manifestation. Just like my comment on your youtube video regarding my request for bird culinary vlogs, I would happily, and gratefully subscribe if you were to create a Patreon subscription option. Alas, I realize the timing of this request is perhaps not the best as you are heading out on tour, but perhaps bird food for thought, for future endeavors? Much appreciation for all of the wisdom that you share <*◇*>

Maureen Riley

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