January/February 2003 Magazine
Home made bird toys are becoming increasingly important to parrot keepers and their parrots.
You don't have to be an organized person to make great toys at home. All you need is a designated place to accumulate new parts, washed re-usable parts, scissors, and stringing rope.
Set aside a budgeted sum to buy new parts each month. Suggest you take $10 or more each month to the craft store, Walmart or the Dollar Store and re-stock your supplies so you have more variety of parts. Or buy online monthly from toy parts vendors.
Use blunt scissors for safety in case your bird happened on them someday. I like pinking sheers for toy making. Pinking sheers are blunt on ends and sharp enough to trim ropes.
Set aside a certain time each week when you make toys. One idea is that while you watch your favorite show on Tuesdays, designate that as toy-making time.
When you buy a pre-made toy, assess its usability later to restring parts. Is the base reusable? Are the parts durable enough to be washed and recycled? Recycling toys is a big dollar stretcher. The toy in the picture is strung to a solid pole that most birds can't hurt so you would have a base to use with your stringing rope later. Although wooden parts can be expected to be chewed up, there are other parts that may be re-useable on the toy. See Picture 1.
Observe safety rules when making home made toys. Keep cotton and sisal ropes short. Match the size of the parts to the birds. Pony beads are small and are not usually matched to medium or large birds for safety reasons. Watch your birds play with toy parts to see if they are treating any part in an unsafe manner. Avoid using parts with metal, hooked shapes, and shaggy parts.
Make more than 1 toy at a time. Make a batch of nearly same toys and keep some spare toys for rainy days.
String home made toys directly to a quick link to save time. Tie your stringing rope onto the link, and you are ready to begin your toy.
Large bird toys are easy to make if you match the size of the parts to the size of the bird. Here is a sample of a home made cotton mop head toy. Buy 100% cotton mop head replacements at your grocery or Walmart. Remove any metal. Tie at the top for hanging. String parts to the strands of mop head. This type of cotton shreds easily. See Picture 2
Another great large bird home made toy is the stuffed brown paper bag. Be sure to remove any staples and fill a large brown bag with shredded paper, toy parts, and nuts. An example is shown in Picture 3.
In your large bird's cage there are probably some chains holding toys or a bell. You can string toy parts and cotton cloth to this chain like shown in Picture 4.
The safest place to hang a bird's toy is on or near the sides of the cage. If a foot is caught, then the bird can hold onto the bars until help arrives.
Some large birds have mechanical minds and love knots. Single knots between beads or toy parts will challenge the bird and increase the toy's life.
As parrot keepers, we are charged with the duty of entertaining our feathered friends.
Toys lift their spirits, satisfy some instinctual needs, and relieve cage boredom and stress. Grab your parts and make a bird toy soon.
Winged Wisdom Note: Linda gratefully acknowledges firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com for their refinement by discussion of the ideas presented here. See her toys specially designed for Cockatoos and her toys for other parrots at http://www.discountbirdtoys.com. Linda has published eight articles in consumer and collegiate journals and enjoys the study of parrots and wild birds.
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