Is it Really Just a Bird Toy?
...or is it a magical device that becomes whatever your bird desires? One thing is very clear, bird toys are more than mere playthings when it comes to your bird. What does a bird toy represent to your bird? How can this help you to make better choices for your bird?
What is your bird's toy personality?
Observation is the key to understanding how to make the best toy selections for your bird. Does your bird have preferences for certain materials, colors, textures or shapes? Keep the following questions in mind while observing your bird interacting with toys and other objects of interest around the house?
Does your bird like to...
- chew, tear, preen, shadow box, snuggle with or disassemble toys?
- play with bells or other noisemakers?
- hang upside down and do aerobatics?
- climb the drapes?
- hold things in his foot or toss objects?
- rip and shred paper?
- forage for treats?
- solve puzzles?
- chew holes in your clothes? untie knots?
- snatch your earrings, eyeglasses and other shiny objects?
- weave materials through cage bars?
- hide behind or snuggle up to toys?
Answers to these questions can point you in the right direction when it comes to finding the perfect toys for your bird.
Other Considerations in Choosing Toys
- Select toys of an appropriate size for your bird. If a toy is too small it will not only be too easily destroyed but small parts could also present a choking hazard. If a toy is too large it could pose a trapping hazard for small bird body parts.
- Select toys from reputable manufacturers who take care to make sure only safe, non-toxic materials are used. No toy is 100% safe but you can minimize potential risks by making smart choices. Check out our Bird Toy Safety article to learn more.
- Know how your bird interacts with his toys and choose toys appropriate to his individual play style. Make sure to supervise your bird whenever you give him a new toy to ensure he plays safely.
- Be prepared to maintain toys as they may become unsafe after parts become chewed or frayed.
- Provide your bird with a minimum of 4-6 toys at all times.
- Choose a variety of toys (see below) and make sure to rotate and reposition them frequently (minimum weekly) to maintain a stimulating environment for your bird.
Types of Bird Toys
There are many bird toys available on the market and the choice is daunting to some bird owners. It is helpful to understand how various categories of toys help to enrich their feathered companion's lives. Birds should be provided with a cross section of toys from all of the following categories to ensure that their physical and mental needs are being addressed. The key categories are:
- Foraging Toys: Foraging toys provide and excellent outlet to require your bird to work for it's food as it would have to do the majority of each day in the wild. Examples of foraging toys are those in which treats can be hidden, skewered and or imbedded. Foraging toys should be placed at a variety of levels throughout the cage to encourage movement and exploration.
- Chewing Toys: Chewing is a major activity in the wild, especially during breeding season when birds are actively burrowing nests into tree trunks. It is imperative that birds be provided with destructible wood toys. Wood and leather toys provide hours of safe chewing fun. Remember, these toys are for your bird so don't become alarmed or upset if over time they destroy them. Chewing is a natural activity for your bird and they should be provided an opportunity to do so. Larger birds should be challenged with harder woods. Balsa, pine or vine based materials are excellent for smaller birds.
- Exercise Toys: Just like we humans use a lot of different equipment in a fitness club to ensure we get a full body workout, birds need a variety of toys that stimulate the exercise of different parts of their bodies. Swings and Bungees challenge their balancing skills and ladders and ropes promote legwork due to increased climbing activity.
- Comfort Toys: In the wild, birds enjoy physical contact with their mates, often snuggling up to them on branches. Caged birds, especially when they are alone, like to snuggle up to or crawl into something soft and cuddly. This alleviates their stress and provides them with a sense of security. Examples of comfort toys are the Peek-a-boo Perch Tents and Snuggle Rings.
- Preening Toys: Boredom and stress in caged birds can often lead to over-preening or feather pulling. Rope preening toys provide an excellent outlet for birds to satisfy their desire to preen and to discourage feather picking and mutilation.
- Manipulative/Mechanical Toys: Birds are very intelligent and inquisitive creatures. Many are reported to enjoy untying knots, undoing nuts and bolts and deconstructing cages to escape. Providing puzzle solving toys and toys that require manipulation will stimulate these birds mentally.
- Foot Toys: A parrot's foot is very adept at holding and grasping small items. Foot toys are small toys designed to be held easily so your parrot can enjoy manipulating and chewing various components. Providing foot toys promotes good foot dexterity as well as an excellent outlet for fun!
Not only should your bird should own a wide variety of toys but remember it is also important to rotate toys in and out of the cage weekly to stimulate curiosity and prevent boredom.