Birds and Toys

Companions of parrots are repeatedly told that your bird needs lots of toys. They need things to chew on, they need things to play with, and they need things to challenge their intelligence so they don’t get bored. But have you ever seen a bird that really, really loves its toys?

I am not talking about the urge to mate with a toy. If your bird has a favorite that’s too much of a favorite, there are lots of helpful sites on the web to talk you through that issue. I am looking at a fondness for a toy expressed in different ways.

Sometimes the fondness is fleeting. My cockatiels often adopt a ball or wood block or bottle cap, and carry it around for hours. Kai likes to sit on a big wooden ball, as if he is expecting it to hatch some day. But when a cockatiel carries the toy into a food dish, the toy is put down and food is consumed. After that, the toy might be abandoned in the food dish. Until the angels come along and make it a real rabbit. Or something.

Many of my parrots love bells. Lovebird Jake has to have a perch just under his bell, so he can wear it like a hat. The look on his face when his bell in on his head is one of pure devotion. Seconds later, the bell is exactly what he needs to take out his aggression. Or to signal that he really didn’t get enough out time. Or to say the carrots are okay, but he’d rather have broccoli, thank you very much.

Maynard, my coverbird, also likes his bells, but he has to be in the right mood for them. Otherwise he likes his red jar lids, which he carries around and chirps to, and occasionally tries to feed, and his buttons and beads. I have bought shirts and had friends send shirts so he could chew the buttons off of them. I cleaned out a junk basket recently and found a lot of large, plastic beads. He’s having a great time with those.

Bo Dangles likes to get my attention at the end of the day by dangling from the roof of her cage. Once she sees that I have seen her, she rotates her body with her neck muscles, climbs over to the side of the cage, and starts ringing her bell. That’s a cue for me to play tug of war with her and the bell. Of course, tug is her favorite game. The bell just happens to be one thing she uses for that, and the thing that makes Blind Io upset from the noise. Bo will tug on towels, shoes, just about anything she can reach. She’s a tugging fool.

My recovered from his seizure budgie, Pretzel, has a very special ball with a bell in it. He does indeed carry it around his cage shake it to make noise, and talk to it. He leaves it under the food hopper most of the time. All my birds get cardboard boxes to destroy and chew on. The conures in the bird room love to get those heavy gray cardboard cup trays from a certain coffee purveyor. I stick a few peanuts in the middle, and they go to town, chewing a path into the center. Recently I put a flat tray type box in the cage with Sunny and Mookie, then put a paper bag with a few peanuts in the middle. For days, all you could see of Mookie was his tail feathers, sticking up between the box and the bag.

My birds are entertaining, especially when I keep them entertained. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.

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