Toys and Stimulation

Toys are an essential part of every parrot's life in captivity and they come in many different forms. The first thing we need to do is talk about some common misconceptions regarding toys:

"My bird doesn't like toys, he only destroys them." 

We often hear families say this and it couldn't be further from the truth! Parrots destroy their toys not only because they enjoy destroying it but also as a way of maintaining their beak. When they are chewing up pieces of wood, they are actually preventing overgrowth from occurring on their beaks. Yes, we know that replacing toys often can be expensive but it is best for the bird and there are sturdier toys that provide mental stimulation that you can use as well. 

"I don't want him chewing up those wood blocks because he might choke on a piece of it." 

Many people believe that the wooden toys which we provide our birds are dangerous to them due to choking risks. In actuality, the birds would chew on wood from trees in the wild. They break the wood apart (often into tooth pick size bits!) and drop it to the ground. They don't like to eat it and instincts provide them with the ability to differentiate food from their toys. 

"I can't afford to give my bird nice toys all of the time."

This can be very upsetting to families as they often feel that people will look down on them for not being able to spend $40-50 on one toy for their bird. But not every fun toy has to be expensive! This page will not only provide suggestions for toys you can purchase, but also offers ideas on making your own inexpensive bird toys with little to no special tools or parts. 

"My bird is afraid of toys so I stopped trying to give them any."

This isn't so much a misconception as it is a chance to use behavioral modification and tips and tricks to help your bird receive the stimulation it needs without the fear. We will be explaining different ways to introduce toys to your bird that may make them feel less scared of new things in their cage. We will also offer alternate suggestions to toys that still provide stimulation. 

I want to buy my bird's toys...

Great! We would love to help you find reasonably priced, bird safe toy sources. Below is a list of recommend sites that we use:

Rescued Feathered Angels Auction Site

This FB page was created to raise money for rescues all over the country. There are weekly auctions and 5-6 auctions in a row will benefit the rescue that was voted in by the group. All the rescues who did not win are offered the chance to be voted in again for a later auction. The two women who created the site, make many different types of toys and have dedicated a lot of time to creating safe and fun toys for these auctions. If you're looking for a chance to win toys at great prices and also help raise money for parrots in rescue, then click on this link and check them out!

I Got a Woody Bird Toys

This website has many different types of wood toys for all bird sizes and also supports small business! These toys are handmade and come in different difficulty levels and utilize bird safe wood. This store also has a variety of platform perches which are useful for bird with special needs feet. If you would like to visit I Got a Woody Bird Toys, then click on this link and check them out!

Noah's Ark Pre-Made Bird Toys
This website has a variety of items available, including pre-made toys, toy parts, and even gifts for bird loving humans! Whatever you are looking for, they will have a little something for everyone! If you would like to visit Noah's Ark and Novelty, then click on this link and check them out!

My Safe Bird Store

Whether you're looking for toys, food, cages, etc. My Safe Bird Store has it all! This is a great website to bookmark if you are looking for bird supplies that are shipped direct to you, are priced reasonably and are packed with love and care by Kathy and her staff. If you are in the NJ or PA area, you are also able to pick up directly from the store. If you would like to visit, My Safe Bird Store, then click on this link and check them out!

I want to make my own bird toys...

We would love to help! First thing to learn are safe things you can use in your bird toys that are easily found at dollar stores, grocery stores such as Wal-Mart, etc. or that can be found cheaply online. 

Unsafe Bird Toy Resources:

  • Pressure Treated Wood (Untreated wood such as 2x4's are a better choice)
  • Zinc Metal (Stainless steel wire is a safe alternative)
  • Any toys with loose strings or long hanging ropes

Bird Safe Wood Resources:

Non-Toxic Wood for Birds

The following materials are not safe if toxic chemicals or insecticides have been sprayed on them. Before installing them in any cage, scrub all branches with a non-toxic disinfectant, then rinse and dry well (preferably in the sun.)

The Non-Toxic and Toxic wood list is thanks to this link Mario D. Vaden: M. D. Vaden - Trees & Landcapes. His main site address for his landscape company is

Tree Limbs non-toxic for birds:

APPLE -(Pesticide residue likely reasonfor periodic issues)
AILANTHUS - Tree of Heaven
ALDER - white alder -(See Dr. Vaden's site)
Alder / Buckthorn)
ARALIA - Fatsia japonica
ASH - Fraxinus
ASPEN - Populus
BARBERRY- Berberis
BIRCH - see paragraph
BEECH - Fagus
BOIS D'ARC - horse apple tree
CITRUS -(lime, kumquat, grapefruit, orange, lemon)
CORK - (not wood from cork oak, but cork)
CRAPE MYRTLE - (not the same as myrtle)
DOGWOOD - Cornus
DOUGLAS FIR - Pseudotsuga
ELM - Ulmus
FIR - genus Abies
HAWTHORN - Crataegus
IRONWOOD - apparently toxic leaves
LARCH - Larix
LILAC - Syringa
MAPLE - Acer - see Dr. Vaden's site
MANZANITA - Arctostaphylos
MESQUITE - remove sharp parts
MOCK ORANGE - Phladelphus
NANDINA -common name is heavenly bamboo
NUT TREES - exclude chestnut and oak
ORANGE - several sources lean toward safe
PINE - Pinus: see Dr. Vaden's site
POPLAR - Populus
RAPHIOLEPSIS - Indian Hawthorn
ROSE - Rosa
RUBBER PLANT - - Ficus elastica - see Dr. Vaden's site
SPRUCE - Picea
STAGHORN SUMAC -(Rhus - not Toxicodendron - (see Dr. Vaden's site)
STRAWBERRY TREE -(Arbutus like Madrone)
SWEET GUM - Liquidambar

Toy Parts commonly found in dollar stores, party stores, Wal-Marts, etc. 


These four items are used in many bird toys that you find in stores and you can use them too! You may be able to get the best deals from online websites such as Rhode Island Novelty, Oriental Trading and ebay. For the ducks and the popsicle sticks, you can use a drill to put a small hole through the center where the wire will go. You can also use food coloring from the grocery store mixed with Isopropyl alcohol (this will be discussed in detail below).


Items you'll need: 
  • Vitacritter Colorant, Wiltons, Americolor OR regular vegetable food coloring 
  •  50/70/90 % Isopropyl alcohol
  • Plastic tupperware containers
  • Wooden blocks or popsicle sticks

Mix 2 parts food coloring with 15 parts isopropyl alcohol. Not sure what that means? Fill a container with 2 cups of isopropyl alcohol and add 3-4 tablespoons of color depending on the brightness you are looking for. Use a spoon or fork to mix the color and the alcohol, then dip the wood in! It will float so you'll need to flip the item to cover both sides. Allow 3-4 minutes on each side and then place on a cookie tray or drying rack and allow to dry completely (generally overnight).

These metal clips are called carabiners and can be found at Wal-Mart or any home improvement store. They can be reused many times when the toy is destroyed.

Pictures belong to Rachel Dudley Reasoner and are not to be used or distributed without permission. Toys made following this picture should be used for personal, not commercial use. If you would like to contact Rachel about these items, please email us and we will put you in contact with her. 

Rachel's Finger Trap Wreath:
Tools you'll need: None!
Items you'll need: Circle object such as cookie cutter, plastic bracelet, etc., Chinese Finger Traps, Shredded Paper Confetti, and Mini "Birdie Bagels" or small cardboard rings., wire or natural string, carabiner.
How to make: Fold finger traps in half around the plastic circle and pull the birdie bagel over it moving towards the plastic circle. Do this until you can no longer see the plastic circle. Fill finger trap ends with shredded paper confetti. Make a loop with your wire or string to attach a carabiner so it can be hung on the cage. 

Giant Puff: 
Tools you'll need: Drill and pencil, pliers if you are using wire, scissors. 
Items you'll need: Coffee Filters (you can pre-dye them or use them plain), rubber duck, beads and string or wire. 
How to make: Start by stringing the coffee filters onto the string or wire you are using. If you are using string, use the pencil to poke holes in the filters. If you are using wire, you can string them directly on there. Add as many as you like and when you are ready to finish, string the duck on. If you are using string, put a bead on and then tie a knot. If you are using wire, put a bead on and then twist the wire into a loop using your pliers. Then go to the other end of the string or wire which is still connected to the ball of string/wire and snip enough off so that you have room for one more bead and a knot/loop. Add the bead and create your knot or loop and you are done! Add your carabiner to the top by creating a string loop or attaching it to your wire loop.

Cube Foot Toys:
Tools you'll need: Pliers, scissors.
Items you'll need: Foam block pieces, stainless steel wire, beads.
How to make: Put the blocks together while leaving one side open. Then push a piece of wire through one side and string on beads. Then push through the opposite side and create a loop on either side. Do this once more if you want and then you are done!

Pictures belong to Dawn Graham and are not to be used or distributed without permission. Toys made following this picture should be used for personal, not commercial use. If you would like to contact Dawn about these items, please email us and we will put you in contact with her. 

These three toys are a little more advanced but still easy to do! Most people will be able to complete them with tools they already have at home or can easily get for low cost. We will break it down for you here! 

Wooden Castle:
Tools you'll need: Drill and scissors.
Items used: Legos (can be substituted with wooden blocks), cardboard 'donuts' or 'birdie bagels' as they can be found online by, wooden beads, raffia rope (can be substituted for any natural rope or vegetable treated leather strings).
How to make: Drill holes in legos, bagels and wooden blocks, then string all items together in a pattern you like! It's as simple as that. :)

Green Wood & Cork Fan:
Tools you'll need: Drill and scissors.
Items used: Wooden blocks (may be dyed but not necessary), corks, beads, raffia rope 
(can be substituted for any natural rope or vegetable treated leather strings)
How to make: Drill holes in blocks and corks. String the items together in the pattern of your choice (may be a fan or may just be a straight line!). 

Movie Mania:
Tools you'll need: Pen or pencil, scissors.
Items you'll need: Paper container (movie style or can be a party favor type box), confetti, movie tickets (can be substituted with puzzle pieces or playing cards), paper straws, paper baking cups, beads, thin natural raffia/hemp (untreated) rope. 
How to make: Use the pencil/pen to poke holes in sides of container and in the center of baking cups and movie tickets. String rope on each side of the container and through the bottom, use a bead with a knot to prevent rope from coming through container. On each side, string a bead, a portion of a straw, alternating movie tickets and beads, then a baking cup and end with bead. Repeat this for both sides and the bottom section. Fill the container with confetti and paper straws. You may string movie tickets on the paper straws if you want to add a little extra fun. You can also put a few of your bird's favorite treats in the container and use this as a foraging toy!