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The Many Beaks of Foot Toys

Let me share just a few reasons for making sure you have an endless supply of foot toys for your FIDs (feathered kids).  Foot toys are a great "tool" for young parrots to use when they are learning how to hold something in one foot and keep their balance without falling down.  You can watch them as they wiggle, wobble, trying not to drop their "treasure" yet unsteady being on one leg.  As they get more coordinated, you can watch as they explore the piece with their tongue, trying to decide if it’s edible or not.  It’s a great way to introduce them to a variety of textures, colors, sizes, shapes ... the more exposure they have to different things, the more likely they are of being able to entertain themselves when you just can’t be there.

Our cockatoos love to hold things in their feet, turn them around, feel the texture, tongue the pieces or fling it at will. Sometimes they use it as a means of getting attention … you can almost see them saying, "I wonder how many times I can throw this before she gets tired of picking it up and giving it back to me?"  It’s a game that THEY never seem to get tired of!  Some like all the interaction to be with you and others will take their treasure elsewhere and turn it into toothpicks as quickly as possible. You get the studious ones that check every inch of the toy out, rolling it over and over again to see if it’ll do anything … and others that just have a buzz-saw beak approach ... beak and destroy!!

Our Eclectus are not inclined to hold things with their feet but if you mount a simple block onto their cage, shove some clothespins onto the bars or put it into a bowl then they have a great time chewing on it.  So even those parrots that don’t like to "hold" things, enjoy foot toys in a different fashion ... in a bowl, mounted or even hung!

Make Your Own!

Cottage industry and/or commercially manufactured foot toys are relatively inexpensive but you can make your own for FREE!  We use walnuts to roll on the floor and Sydney, our Greater Sulfur Crested Cockatoo will catch it and bring it back with a flick of his head, hopping and laughing while bobbing up and down … and the real bonus is when he’s done playing, he cracks the walnut open and eats it!  We also have a form of monkey in the middle that we play with Chapin, our female GSC2, where she flings the nut (her favorite is pecan) and you fetch it while she hops after you!  This is a great way to spend some quality time with your FID.

Corn on the cob is a great foot toy and sometimes we partially pop it (make sure it’s thoroughly cooled before giving to your bird)!  It’s amazing to see that each of our multitude companion parrots has a different way of handling the cob!  It’s a fun toy with a bonus (it’s nutritious too)!

A few suggestions for safe, inexpensive foot toys are:

•    Old fashioned wooden clothespins (no metal parts).

•    Clean craft (Popsicle-type), ice cream or wooden chop sticks.

•    Plain paper plates or water cups (not the waxed type).

•    Natural coffee filters or cupcake liners.

•    Small paper lunch bags filled with corn wheels or popped corn, dried hot peppers, whole nuts in the shell, coconut fiber, shredded paper, seed, JUST fruit or veggies, broken wooden parts from old toys, scrap vegetable tanned leather pieces, etc. and tied with natural or colored sisal, 100% cotton cord, vegetable tanned leather strips, or Paulie Rope to make your own Pinata for parrots!  (Note:  If your bird doesn't like to hold onto things with his feet, then hang it!)

•    Pinecones!  Great fun but make sure they haven’t been sprayed and are free of pests, etc. (and you can get very creative with these natural treats as well ... that’s a tale for another day).

•    Empty wooden spools (from thread).

•    Whole nuts in the shell.

•    ParroTraps (great place to hide those corks, small nuts, craft sticks, dowels, clothespins).

•    Broken toy parts from hanging toys (keep an extra empty food bowl, stainless steel coop cup, stainless steel bucket or stuff into a box to put in your parrots house as a "toy box" so you can put those odd pieces that still have life left to good use).

•    Dowels (go to the hardware store, buy a dowel and cut it into foot-size pieces appropriate for your parrot).

•    Wooden ABC blocks (make sure they are non toxic) that you can pick up at your local toy store (drill holes or cut grooves in them for added texture.

•    Lollipop (ParroStix) sticks.

•    Buy 2" x 2" untreated, pine lumber and cut it into 2" pieces for cheap, destroyable foot cubes!

•    Clean old socks (natural fabric only), washed (no fabric softener), knotted or balled (you can even put a "treasure" inside like a pecan, almond, walnut, wooden block, wheel of corn, etc.).

•    Small baskets, straw hats, etc. found in hobby shops small gift boxes that you can put goodies into (dried or popped popcorn, whole or shelled nuts, wooden pieces, etc.).

•    Infant toys and stuffed animals (you can find lots of safe, clean items at your garage sales).

•    Old phone books, junk mail magazines, old paperback books, catalogs (plus it’s a great way to recycle).  If they are too big, get someone to cut them on a band saw into more manageable pieces, weave thru cage bars (messy and fun) or just open them up and hang/drape over a piece of leather, cotton rope, sisal or cord, the birds will take care of the rest!  (If you're bird is a "water dunker," then pass on this unless you have tested the ink source for toxicity.)

•    Clean cardboard box filled with recycled (clean) goodies and closed up so they have to "open" their box to get to the treasures inside.

•    Plastic water bottles with the plastic screw on top makes a great foot toy for larger parrots, put a couple pieces of cork inside and screw the lid back on.  Makes a pleasant noise and the birds love to play with it!

•    Corn husks (tamale wrappers).

•    Curly shoe laces (ParroLaces) are a great foot toy all by themselves but string some beads onto it and viola!  Instant parrot fun!

•    Adding machine paper (cheap, destroyable and easy to find at your local office supply).

It does NOT have to be expensive to be fun!

Use YOUR imagination!

Please use common sense with giving your birds anything new for the first time. Make sure they don’t "eat" items that aren’t suppose to be consumed, never give them small parts that can be swallowed – if you give them "hardware" to play with (nuts & bolts are big favorites for those mechanical FIDs), be sure that they are appropriately sized and STAINLESS STEEL only.  There’s so much going on about metal toxicity that there is absolutely no reason to take unnecessary chances with your beloved avian companion!  Check all items around and near the cage daily, trim or remove frayed or worn toys, and spend as much time as you can enjoying your feathered family!

I’m confident that when you put your mind to it, you can come up with a hundred other things that your parrot would enjoy… and if you simply don’t have the time or inclination to do so … then please look at our website (http://www.busybeaks.com) because we have the perfect toy for your feathered companion!   Enjoy!

Busy Beaks ARE Happy Beaks™

                                                                                  Jan Graham

Copyright ©2001-2016

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This page was last updated on 10/13/2017

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