We all know that highly social, intelligent birds such as parrots do not fare well when bored. Excessive screaming, feather-plucking, pacing and other harmful behaviors quickly take hold when parrots are kept alone and left without stimulation. Macaws are especially hard to accommodate – their incredible strength and boundless energy present a real challenge to owners seeking to keep them busy. A spate of questions on this topic, posed recently by macaw owners, has prompted me to write this article.
Despite the thousands of parrot toys on the market, surprisingly few can stand up to the attentions of even the smallest species (i.e. the Red-Shouldered Macaw), much less the massive Scarlet or Blue and Gold Macaws. Keeping up with their needs by supplying commercial toys can be both frustrating and expensive.
Create Your Own Macaw Toys
One useful option is to make your own toys…this is inexpensive and fun, and, since you’ll be using either very durable or recycled materials, environmentally friendly as well. A very positive aspect of toy-making is that you can tailor the toy to your pet’s specific needs…as any macaw owner learns, these engaging birds vary widely in their personalities and activity preferences. Raw (untreated) lumber, old telephone books, fruit tree branches and wicker baskets filled with leather strips, leaves, nuts and other such items can provide hours of entertainment.
Super Bird’s Make Your Own Bird Toy line is well worth a look – wooden spools, blocks and slats, drilled dry corn cobs, metal clips and similar objects can be assembled into to a wide variety of interesting combinations, or used “as is”.
Durable Commercial Bird and Dog Toys
Some of the ready-to-use bird toys we offer are specifically designed for macaws and other large parrots. The Large Parrot Copper Bell, Nut Maze Block, Large Cluster Block Toy, Bird Kabob, and Birdie Boggler Wood Rings are all well-worth trying.
Macaw owners often turn to dog toys in their search – after all, macaws are as strong as many dogs (and, of course, as bright!). Rawhide, bone and others that lack small parts are the best choices.
For more on making parrot toys and creating an exciting environment for your pet, please see Parrot Toys and Behavioral Enrichment Adding Zest to Your Parrot’s Life.
Even old socks come in handy – please see the entertaining video “Macaw Playing like a Dog”.