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Avian Enrichment

Wild birds spend the majority of their time foraging. They are mother nature’s ultimate recyclers. Often store bought toys fail to interest a bird, or if you have a power chewer like my parrot, he can destroy a $20.00 bird toy in less than 60 seconds.

Here are some ideas for homemade bird toys that you can make yourself for hours of fun, foraging and demolition:

  • Plastic baby safe chains or carabiners work well to suspend toys from the cage. Hard plastic baby rattles make great bird toys and can easily be found at the dollar store.
  • String plain rice cakes or rice cakes with a small amount of peanut butter.
  • Wooden spools (no thread) can be strung with cotton twine, or vegetable dyed tanned leather.
  • Offer paper towel or wrapping paper tubes cut in appropriate lengths.
  • Poker chips, popsicle sticks, balsa wood shapes, even paper that is crumpled with a nut treat inside or paper woven into the bars of the cage can be fun to play with.
  • Paper muffin liners, clean lunch bags or popcorn bags can be filled with shredded paper and treats.
  • Small foraging boxes such as the type that hold staples or paper clips can be punched with a hole punch for hanging, and filled with shredded paper, nuts, dried carrots, dried sweet potatoes, popcorn, wooden beads, millet, dried peppers, dried cranberries or other small “prizes”.
  • Your birds own molted or trimmed feathers can be tied together into a preening toy.
  • Avicakes can be warmed in the microwave for a few seconds to soften, and then pressed into shapes, used to fill wagon wheel pasta, wrapAvi cakes – bird foodped around a carabiner, or pressed into the bottom of a small paper cup.
  • Partially open a whole walnut, then “glue” the pieces back together with the Avicakes.
  • A whiffle ball (again, a dollar store object) can be used to wedge carrot sticks, sugar snap peas or fresh green beans or apple wedges.
  • Spools of fresh corn on the cob or bell peppers can be hollowed out and filled with treats, and hung from the cage. Just be sure to offer fresh foods for a limited time only to prevent spoilage.

Important note: Not all wood is safe for birds. Safe examples include manzanita, balsa wood, fir, elm, apple (with no pesticide residue), dogwood and ash. Unsafe examples include oak, red maple, redwood, cedar and plum to name a few. Please check all ingredients for safety and closely supervise your pet with any new toy and be sure all ingredients are free of lead paint, wood preservatives, toxins, pesticides or other harmful chemicals.