I just love this time of year with my parrots. Currently we’re singing and dancing to rambunctious Christmas carols while hubby wraps presents. It’s time to think about gift giving for your beaked family. Homemade toys are the answer, because like me, you probably have lots of things around, like wrapping paper tubes to make into foraging toys. Husband wraps with the pretty foil paper which isn’t suitable for them.
Most gift wrap paper tubes today don’t have glue on them, but check to be sure. I wrap all of my presents in newspaper for my human family. What parrot doesn’t enjoy a crumpled up ball of newspaper tossed in their direction? Or a newspaper house? May as well let the fun begin now.
If you’re a baker, don’t throw out those cardboard egg cartons. You can stuff them with shredded paper and seeds and nuts and hang inside the cage…or like me, tear them into individual sections to throw at the parrots who gleefully throw them back (just make sure they are clean. No cracked eggs allowed).
I also scour the baby aisle at the dollar store for goodies that are safe for babies and parrots. Soft and chewy always wins the day at our place. Small stuffies are another favorite that I find at thrift stores. Their eyeballs are the first to be picked off. There’s just something about parrots and little stuffed toys, isn’t there? I purchase all sorts of kid’s toys at the thrift stores, just clean them up first. (Keiko’s new toy photo) Oh, and boxes. Small cardboard boxes are heaven for mischievous parrots who joyfully chew through to find what you’ve hidden in there. Actually, an empty box is just as much fun for my chewers. This is the time of year we have lots of boxes as those mail ordered gifts arrive.
Rolls of leather work for my African Grey; I puncture or tie small toys for a delectable toy. Your can find loads and loads of toy parts so you can assemble your own toys. If you have bigger parrots, like a macaw or cockatoo, have a look at this video for some super durable homemade toys by Mitch.
Here’s a good foraging toy idea I just learned about from a friend. She cuts straws in two and fills the top half with organic peanut butter. Oh boy! That’s a hit.
Pine cones are readily available at this time of year, too. Before handing them over to your parrot, bake them on a low heat for an hour or two to kill anything that may be on or in them. Crunchy and delectable also, if spread with a bit of peanut butter or almond butter. Try squishing in some sunflower seeds and you’ve just upped the delight quotient.
Bags of fresh cranberries are in the grocery stores now too. I have had great success lightly steaming them and serving them up as treats (once they have cooled down completely – careful). Strings of plain popcorn are sure to make you a little more popular too….just supervise carefully.
There’s lots to beware of this time of year too….such as electrical cords and all those lights. Nothing too close to your parrots, please. And don’t let them chew on your Christmas tree, fake or real. You just don’t know what’s on it, or if it’s been sprayed with anything.
Christmas morning is always a delight…and the paper is almost always more fascinating than the toy inside, isn’t it? Use a matte paper, or plain old newspaper, not gloss or foil. Most of all, enjoy this time of year to be extra playful with your feathered friends, who want nothing more than to be included in all the action.