A baby scarlet macaw parrot playing at the bottom of his new cage with some of his new brightly colored toys. Before a parrot learns to fly, they learn to play.

What Makes a Great Parrot Toy?

What Makes a Great Parrot Toy?

Not durability. Granted it would be great if parrot toys were durable, but that's not the point to a parrot. Toys are employment. Unemployed parrots are unemployed humans in as much as frustration and depression. Only offering toys that never change because they are durable is a human taking a repetitive job in a factory. Same thing every day. A toy that falls apart quickly is hiring a rocket scientist to fill toothpick jars. Put a great mind on a matter that isn't great, frustration blooms.

Indestructible toys are an excellent addition to the ones that must die. And they must die. A parrot isn't playing with a toy, they are exercising their minds and bodies as they would in the wild. Dismantling trees for food and fun is a parrot thing. Digging into the side of cliffs for minerals, clearing branches for perching, hanging upside down because there isn't a right side up for a being that can fly, scrambling, preening each other, preening themselves, creating comfort from materials, hiding behind settings, it's an endless life of options in the wild. What makes a great parrot toy offers options, materials, goals, and familiar instinctive needs. What makes the better parrot toy is all that wrapped up inside their personality preferences. You wouldn't give a baseball player a football. And you won't give Felix, our African grey, a blue toy. Not if you want him to touch it.

What makes a great parrot toy?

  • Knowing your parrot. Knowing your parrot requires you offering options and accepting a no, a yes, a maybe, or a toy violently tossed across the room. Which isn't necessarily a no. More like, "Let's see what this puppy can do!" Only you can zero into what your bird likes. Once you zero in, those are the staples of their collection. Once in a while you add something unusual or new, HR offering a Taco Tuesday works.
  • Quality on the safety side of things. Hanging hooks that lock down securely. Center chains whose gauge is appropriate for your parrot's side. Materials that are free of chemical smells and elements.
  • Size appropriateness. Which is a tricky conversation. Kirby, our Indian ringneck, preferred macaw toys. Butters, our blue and gold macaw, prefers cockatiel toys. Some birds just want to fuss with things. Which leads to the most important piece of a great parrot toy.
  • You. You keeping an eye on them and their play. And you playing along. At the end of the day I check all toys in all cages. Everyday. I look for wear, tear, and that one thing all parrot people know exist sooner or later; the parrot shank. You can give a parrot a soft preening toy and somehow, someway they create a sharp area that can poke an eye. I look for shanks everyday.

What makes a great parrot toy is what makes a great parrot relationship. You, participating in the evolution of their preferences and opinions. You, presenting options and accepting their choices. You keeping an eye on things as evolution takes place.

What makes the very best of all parrot toys, is you.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


  • You are correct. Sometimes a parrot likes to play with household object too. Just saw a video of Einstein Texas playing with his owner’s squeegee brush. He threw his bird toys on the floor. My little Amazon no longer plays with her toys. I tried replacing her favorites with duplicates but she will not let me put them in her cage. She now likes the balls and wood circle blocks I leave on her paper and paper too. Will try sockatoo also.

    Lois Epstein on

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