Why Parrots Love Bird Toys

Many pet owners who have previously had parrots or other kinds of birds in the home are aware of the fact that many bird pets seem to really need a variety of different bird toys that they can play with. At first glance, it might seem that the primary need for these toys is to fulfill the parrot’s innate desire to chew on things and to keep its beak strong.

This is without a doubt one of the instinctive appeals for parrots, because their beaks are strong enough to crack even the most stubborn nuts out in the wild, and it’s just a natural thing for them to want to maintain that same kind of strength in their beaks. But there are other aspects of their natural lives in native habitats which have additional powerful influences on their behavior, even when they are in a domestic environment, in someone’s Massachusetts or Nebraska home.

In their native environments, parrots are predominantly involved in finding food and water throughout the day, as well as fleeing from natural predators. Over centuries of development, this has given them skills in the areas of intelligence, physical capabilities, and exceptionally sharp memories. Memory function comes in very handy when they need to recall the precise location of safe trees and shelters, as well as areas that provide life-giving food and water.

When developing naturally, parrots are also very strong flyers, unless their flight feathers are clipped at a developmental stage, and when that happens they never become good flyers, even when their flight feathers grow back.

So how do all these natural capabilities translate to domestic situations, wherein parrots are maintained in a caged environment, with all their real needs provided for them? This is exactly the point where pet toys can come into play because they can allow parrots to exercise those natural abilities and instincts, even though they are far removed from the rainforests native to their species.

As pet owners, we should all recognize that these are very powerful instincts, ingrained into the birds over many, many years and that if they don’t get the chance to express these instincts in their current environments, they might become anxious, unsatisfied, and downright unhappy.

Below are described several categories of parrot toys which fulfill these basic needs for the birds, giving them a chance to act out their natural instincts in ways that are suitable to their domesticated circumstances.

Foraging Bird Toys

These kinds of toys fulfill the need for parrots to forage for food because that is an activity which would ordinarily take up almost 90% of their time in a natural setting. In order to fulfill the struggle which a parrot needs to obtain its food, you should put small amounts of food in places where the bird must navigate around or through some kind of toy, in order to get the prize it is seeking.

There’s no problem with leaving small amounts of readily available food sometimes, but if you can devise ways of making your parrot work to get its food and water, it will instinctively appreciate the exercise and feel more in tune with its new environment.

Gymnastic Bird Toys

There are a number of swinging-type toys that you can install in your parrot’s cage, such as braided rope, swings, bridges and other such items, which will help to approximate its natural treetop environment, and which will allow it to engage in healthy exercise. All these things encourage movement from your parrot, and that is greatly preferable to having a disinterested bird which sits in a single location, doing pretty much nothing.

A green parrot sits in a cage full of bird toys that help keep it healthy and intelligent.

A healthy parrot needs a variety of different bird toys that it can chew on, forage in and problem solve.

Puzzle Bird Toys

Some pet shops offer puzzle bird toys which are similar in construction and intent to those which are sold in toy stores, and which are intended for use by small children. Some of these are brightly colored offerings, so as to catch the bird’s attention, but all of them have some basic problem to solve, and that’s the appeal to your parrot.

This is where its strong memory comes into play, as well as its natural intelligence, and when you find a puzzle toy which particularly captivates your pet, you may notice that the bird spends many hours of the day trying to work out a solution to that particular puzzle.

Chew Bird Toys

Almost any kind of a wooden chew toy is a great distraction for your parrot, as long as the wood is not made from cedar or any of the conifers, because these can be harmful to your bird. The wooden toys are excellent for parrots to gnaw on and chew, because they do a great deal of this in their rainforest environment, and they will still feel the instinct to do the same thing in a more domesticated situation.

You may even want to provide your parrot with some kinds of nuts because many different parrots are downright experts at cracking open nuts and eating the sweet treat inside. The only trick to this will be to find the kind of nuts that your parrot prefers, so that it will be motivated to break into it, to obtain the treat.

Keep in mind that many species of parrot are fairly intelligent birds, particularly the African Green Parrot and the Eclectus Parrot, so when you provide your pet with different kinds of toys, you may have to change them out periodically, in order to keep your pet engaged. By providing your smart, feathered friend with new toys every so often, you will spark its interest repeatedly, and ensure that its natural instincts are allowed to have free reign in its new environment.


11 Fascinating Facts About Parrots you Never Knew

There are several different types of parrots, but they all share at least a few things in common, starting with their classification as members of the order called Psittaciformes. In this animal order, there are approximately 350 different kinds of birds, including cockatoos, cockatiels, macaws, and parakeets, as well as the different types of parrots.

The characteristics which all parrots have in common are their curved beaks, and their four toes, two of which point backward, while the other two point forward. Most parrots prefer the warmer climates found in the southern hemisphere, although some are also situated in South America, Central America, Mexico, and Australia.

While everyone has probably seen a few parrots up close and personal, or at least in zoos, there are probably a lot of fascinating facts about these beautiful birds that many people are unaware of, some of which are detailed below.

They Like to Destroying Things

Most parrot toys are constructed so that they can be easily ripped apart and destroyed, and in fact, any parrot toy which you purchase that can’t be destroyed by the bird will probably hold very little interest for it. Out in the wild, parrots spend just about all their time searching for and eating food, so when maintained in a captive environment, they feel the need to search for things anyway, often instinctively destroying it.

Some of them are Poor Flyers

In many places where parrots are captured for sale, it’s a common practice to clip their flight feathers at an early age, when they would naturally attempt to fly. This of course results in the parrot being unable to fly not only at that time but at any other time in its life as well. By the same token, if you cage a parrot at that critical development time, in a structure which is too small for flight, it will never be a good flyer in its lifetime.

Some do not Speak

Virtually all parrots have the innate ability to learn how to speak the human language, but not all of them care too. Some of the most adept species at speaking English is the Yellow Forehead Amazon parrot, the Jacob, and the Budgie.

They Need Regular Baths

Parrots’ general need for taking baths stems from the fact that in their native rainforests, they are usually rained on at least three or four times every week. Parrots are quite happy to take a shower or a bath along with you, and they don’t have any problem with being put in the sink and having tap water splashed over them.

A parrot owner holds their white parrot in their arms but is cautious to avoid getting bit as many breeds do.

Even though its safe to hold parrots, you must be careful because many breeds enjoy biting things that are close to their beaks.

Parrots Tend to Match with Their Mates

For the most part, males and females for parrot species look very much the same, so much so that it’s virtually impossible to tell them apart. One of the few notable exceptions to this rule is the Solomon Island Eclectus parrot, and the male and female of this species are so completely different, that it was thought for many years they were two completely different species.

They Have Zygodactyl Toes

Like a number of other bird species, parrots have four toes on each foot. However, in contrast to other species which have three toes forward and one behind, parrots have two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward. This amounts to having two pairs of opposable thumbs, and when this capability is coupled with their powerful nut-cracking beaks, they can be extremely good climbers and very powerful eaters.

Not All Parrots are Tropical

As mentioned previously, many parrot species inhabit the southern hemisphere countries, but there are some notable exceptions to this rule. Some parrots reside in the mountainous regions of New Zealand and actually make their nests in burrows. The rare Maroon-fronted Parrot of the Sierra Madre range in Mexico makes its home in an environment 6,000 feet above sea level.

They Taste Things in an Unusual Way

Since some parrots have taste glands situated near the backs of the throat, their taste buds are correspondingly located on the upper part of their mouths, with a full complement of 300 or so taste buds. While this may seem like a pittance compared to the 10,000 taste buds in a human’s mouth, parrots are perfectly capable of differentiating between various tastes, and actually, crave certain kinds of foods.

They are very Social

Most parrots live in flocks and enjoy being surrounded by others of their species. African Grey parrots for instance, routinely live in flocks of between 20 and 30 birds. Most parrot species mate for life and raise their young together in a collaborative effort. Communication between parrots is via certain kinds of vocalizations, combined with significant tail feather shaking that carries specific meaning.

Their Feathers Have Antibacterial Pigments

The brilliant feathers that you see on parrots are not just for show, because this extraordinary plumage actually provides protection against certain kinds of bacteria that could be harmful to them.

They Like to Bite

As many pet owners have discovered already, parrots don’t have any problem with biting the hand that feeds them. In the vast majority of cases, however, parrots do not bite out of aggression but out of anxiety or fear. Biting is also one of the ways they communicate, both with each other and with human owners.