My experience with pet and wild birds has convinced me that this is a mistake. I have observed a number of species engaging in behavior that, if not truly “play”, is certainly very close – little green herons “hunting” leaves, fledgling cardinals pulling at flowers and dropping them to the ground, etc. And anyone who saw the National Geographic Magazine photo of a wild raven sliding down a snow bank on its back cannot but conclude that it was truly “playing”. Most of these activities help birds in developing skills that they will need for survival (although I cannot yet explain the sow bank photo in that light!). In captivity, they also provide valuable mental and physical stimulation.
Finches of all types are particularly quick to use toys, even those designed with other birds in mind. They notice anything new in their cage, and are soon pecking, flying and perching on or about the novel item. They take quickly to ladders, toys that house hidden treats, nests constructed of grasses (which they usually try to shred in short order) and love to peck at bells.
Many parrot toys are quite suitable for finches and will be well used, even if not in the manner intended by the manufacturer. When purchasing toys made for larger birds, please be sure to check that your finches cannot injure themselves by becoming lodge themselves within any holes or openings. There are many options available – a few suggestions follow:
Heart Ring of Rings