Having a pet bird is like having a perpetual toddler. They're infinitely curious and very social, so they need a lot of time and attention. They also require daily mental stimulation to not only keep them happy but to keep them from developing physical and mental problems due to cage frustration, boredom and inactivity. To prevent feather plucking, repetitive pacing, screaming and other neurotic behaviors, you should provide your pet with size- and species-appropriate bird toys and change them weekly or even daily to keep your feathered friend interested in playing with them.
There are some hazards you need to look out for when shopping for bird toys.
- Make sure that there are no zinc parts or pieces. Use a magnet to test any metal parts, as stainless steel — the safest metal for use around birds — won't attract a magnet. Also, check the label to see if the toy is labeled lead and zinc free.
- Look for split rings on the toy. A split ring is what you use to secure your car keys together, and the twisted metal design can trap crafty beaks causing damage. Be aware that most rope toys require supervision and even ones that are meant to be left in the cage should be inspected for loose threads daily and removed when damaged.
Create Your Own Bird Toys
For a simple toy idea that can be used over and over again, pick up a roll of natural unbleached parchment paper from your local grocery store. Then, go to your favorite pet shop and buy treats, size-appropriate wooden toys, acrylic toys and non-spherical bells with a sturdy clapper. Every day, take a different toy and a few treats and roll it up in a piece of the parchment paper like a tootsie pop. You can use a piece of vegetable-dyed leather to tie the ends or even pieces of cooked pasta wrapped around the ends and left to dry for 15 minutes. This way, every day is a fun-filled holiday for your pet bird.