August 1999 Magazine
Have you ever seen a bird swinging away on a swing while emitting sounds of great pleasure? Or perhaps you've seen a bird hanging from a swing by one foot or doing somersaults around the perch while it moves to and fro? Swings are wonderful for birds. They are a source of enjoyment, body exercise and fitness, practicing balance, foot movement, and just plain something to keep your bird entertained.
Swings are more than a nicety, they help your bird keep fit and healthy and help him burn off those extra calories. The movement of a swing exercises the feet and strengthens the leg muscles, helping to prevent arthritis. Balancing on a moving swing also requires use of the chest and wing muscles, areas which need exercise as well. Playing on a swing stretches and tones muscles all over the body.
Birds enjoy the movement of swings, perhaps because they resemble branches swaying in the wind. Or perhaps because they provide an opportunity to feel the air passing over their bodies, as when in flight. Whatever the reasons, birds like to play on swings and seem to derive much enjoyment from them.
You can provide a bird a variety of swings, both in and out of the cage. Hang one in the cage and try a few different types on their gyms and playgrounds. There are a wide variety of shapes, sizes and designs to choose from.
The most simple swing is comprised of a perch hung from a single hanger at the top. This allows it to move in many directions. Items can be attached to the swing, but it is more difficult than with a double hanger swing. Since variety in perch diameters help prevent arthritis of the feet, choose a different diameter for the swing. Even better is a wooden tree branch which varies in diameter. This particular swing has a mineral perch which aids in keeping nails and beaks trim. Choose a swing which has enough room above the perch for your bird to rest comfortably.
Refillable Swings with Toys
Swings which attach at two points swing to and fro and are more stable. Wooden blocks and other items can be attached to or threaded onto the swing hangers. Birds can swing from the perch or climb the hangers while swinging. This toy from Avian Antics Bird Toys, has a perch with a variable diameter (good for the feet) and is also refillable. The hangers have unscrewable acrylic balls at the top which make it possible to thread new items onto the hangers when the old ones have been chewed up. They also make it easy to attach the swing to the cage.
There are a variety of trapezes. Some are round rings which hang horizontally from three points on the ring. Others are rings hung vertically, perhaps with a perch across the ring. Since these swings have one main hanger, they rotate and swing in all directions. Both versions can be made more interesting by adding wooden spools, beads, and other items to the rings. Some come covered with many colorful pieces of rope knotted around the rings. Birds enjoy chewing the wood or untying the knots while swinging, twisting their bodies into all types of positions to reach the items.
Caves are similar to trapezes. They consist of a ring hung vertically from a single hanger. Since these swings have only one hanger, they rotate and swing in all directions. Caves come completely covered with many colorful or white pieces of rope knotted around the rings. About 2 -3 inches of rope are left loose below the knot. Together these loose ends form a soft, cozy looking halo around the ring. Many birds enjoy perching within the "cave" of rope ends. This is also thought to be a good toy for birds who pluck their feathers, as untying the rope knots with their beaks, is believed to distract them from plucking. Some bird owners also believe that if the color of the rope is similar to the color of their bird's feathers, they are more interested in the ropes. Be sure to cut the frayed ends of rope to prevent the bird getting a foot entangled.
Twisters are another type of swing. They are usually made from a very thick, stiff rope which forms a very loose, long coil. The twister hangs from the top of the coil, which can sway in all directions, while the bird can move up and down along the coil. Twisters can be made even more interesting by hanging small toys, beads, a bell or pieces of wood from them for the bird to play with. The coil provides lots of room for the bird to move on the swing.
If you are handy, you can make your own swings for your bird. There are a number of do-it-yourself swing ideas at Birds n Ways The ToyMaker Webpage.
The swings pictured in this article are courtesy of:
Avian Antics Bird Toys
Many bird toy manufacturers also make swings, so they are easy to find.
Whatever your choice, give your bird a swing and watch him have a "Swingin' Good Time".
Winged Wisdom Note: Carol and husband Ken have owned pet birds for over 13 years and are co-creators of the Birds n Ways, Winged Wisdom and Cockatoo Heaven websites.
A pet bird ezine, pet bird e-zine, for pet parrots & exotic birds. Cockatoo Parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises
Articles on the care & breeding of pet birds, pet parrots & exotic birds
Copyright © 1999 Birds n Ways All rights reserved.
Page design: Carol Highfill ---- Last update: August 1, 1999
Cockatoo Parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises