Sunday, September 27, 2009

Toys for Your Tiel: The importance of entertaining your bird.

Toys prevent your cockatiel from becoming bored. They are essential to the happiness, and therefore the health of your bird. Bored birds develop behavioral problems, such as aggression and irritability.

Remember your cockatiel cannot directly say to you how she is feeling (at least not until you train her to talk); therefore, your cockatiel communicates her emotions through her behaviors.
Your cockatiel will spend the majority of her time in her cage, even if you do take her out for at least two and a half hours a day. She needs to be entertained when you are not home. It will also make you feel better leaving her home alone knowing she is occupied with plenty of fun toys!

There are some important things to keep in mind when purchasing toys for your tiel. These ideas come from Jennifer Hammitt, an eHow contributing writer specializing in Birds.

  • Size is important- You do not want a toy that is too big or too small for that matter. Toys meant for cockatiels are usually considered "medium" toys. Just look for a picture of a cockatiel on the packaging.
  • Safety- Make sure the toys DO NOT have lead or zinc in them. Both of these are toxic to birds and can cause long-term health problems, including seizures.
  • Cater to your bird's personality- Try out different types of toys and see what your tiel likes best.

Loki likes shredding toys best, like her paper mache duck, which can be stuffed with millet. They look like little pinatas. She rips these toys to pieces and then goes for the treat inside. It is the funniest thing to watch! She has already destroyed three of these. I found out about her love for paper shredding by watching her annihilate the paper in my printer.

There are many different types of toys out there and they come in a bevy of colors. There are mirrors (tiels love the sight of themselves), toys made with paper, toys made with rope, and toys made with a mix of mirrors, rope, and paper. Cockatiels are foragers by nature, so the prospect of destroying paper (especially to get to a treat) really appeals to them. Toys can be bought anywhere from $15 dollars to $5 dollars.

The number of toys you keep will vary depending on the size of your cockatiel's cage. It is important to have enough toys to keep your bird entertained, but you do not want to overcrowd the cage with them. I keep three toys in Loki's cage at a time. It is also necessary to change the toys out at least once a month. This will prevent your bird from getting bored with the same old toys. I rotate between 10 different toys that I have.

If you do not have the funds to buy toys or if you have a creative side and want to make a toy to fit your cockatiel's unique personality, you are in luck. There are many cool ideas out there for creating handmade toys.

Briana Blair has some great ideas for making handmade toys. They are easy to create, inexpensive, and provide your bird with excitement.

  • Macaroni toys: take any dry macaroni that has a hole, rub food-safe coloring onto each piece with a cotton swab, string them together on pieces of hemp. Lastly, hang them in the cage from a hook or in the ceiling of the cage.
  • Bird t-shirts: take any old shirt that you do not care about. Sew on buttons, ribbons, and beads. This will keep birds occupied while they sit on you. It will also distract them from chewing on jewelry.

I made a handmade t-shirt for Loki to play with because she always sits on my shoulders when I do my homework, and I do not want her to get bored. Also, she was constantly playing with my earrings and necklaces, which is very annoying. Loki loves the shirt and it was so simple to make.

There are so many great ideas for handmade toys. Here are a few complete with instructions:

Sandal Toy (made by TaffywDuck)


  • Dog Toy Sandal (must be 100% natural leather)
  • 100% Vegetable Tanned Leather
  • Beads
  • Cotton rope
  • Cardboard paper
  • Toilet paper


  1. Make 5 strips of cotton (about 5 inches long) and string beads, cardboard paper, and toilet paper through them.
  2. Take a dog toy sandal and string the cotton rope strips through the holes in the sandal.\s

Spider Toy (made by budgielover4ever)


  • Cardboard
  • Toilet paper (unscented)
  • Straws
  • Shoelace or cotton rope


  1. Take some cardboard and cut them into squares, putting a hole in the middle of every one.
  2. Take some straws and cut them into different sizes.
  3. Take some toilet paper and cut it into shapes, putting a hole in the middle of each.
  4. Take shoelaces or cotton rope and fold it in half. Take another strip and do the same; you now have four spider legs.
  5. Now string the cardboard, straws, and toilet paper together.
  6. Tie the ends of the shoelace/cotton rope and you are finished.

Bead Toy (made by budgielover4ever)


  • Hardwood beads
  • Cardboard
  • Shoelace


  1. Cut the cardboard into squares.
  2. String the cardboard through the shoelace with beads in between to separate them.

There are two very important things to remember when creating toys for your cockatiel:

  1. Incorporate your bird's favorite things into the toys.
  2. Make sure the toys are safe for your bird.

* Always use food-safe dye for coloring.

* Never use "jingle" bells in toys (bird's toes can get stuck in them), use "clapper" bells.

* Never use painted or coated metal in toys (it is poisonous).

* Only use natural leather.

Cocktiels often enjoy playing with the simplest things around the house and as long as these things pose no danger to the bird, they can play with them. One day I found out about Loki's love of playing with my hair ties. She loves to chew them and plays tug of war with them. I never let her play with them unattended, but together we have a good time with them.

It is essential to keep your bird entertained and occupied with toys. They can be store bought or handmade. A variety of toys will keep your bird happy and healthy.

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