Fledgling blue Indian ringneck parakeet learning to play with toys and use a tree stand.

How to Play with a Parrot

How to Play with a Parrot

Good news! Anything involving your company is play. Bad news! Parrots do not read user manuals or rule books. The question isn't how to play with your parrot. There is no question about parrots and play. It's their go to move. They prefer fun. They will create fun out of mundane human ideas. They will hatch ideas faster than eggs, and it's up to you to keep up. The happiest people and parrots are the ones who have a sense of humor. A sensitive easily giggling sense of humor about the silliest of things. Sharing your life with a parrot mandates you laugh. You didn't choose a pet; you chose a stand-up slap stick comedian who is not interested in rules. If you could fly, you'd understand that.

How does a human play with their parrot? Follow their lead. For example, I give you, Butters. She's ten years old. She's a diva of a blue and gold macaw. She tends to be lazy. She hates turtles. She loves shoulder naps. She is loud as a bull elephant at times. She is quiet as a mouse most times. Play for Butters can't be too involved. That would take work. She doesn't read user manuals. I wrote about our upgrade build on a great toy that is all our bird's absolute favorite toy. 

Super Bird Creations Chewable Paper Popsicle Stick Parrot Toy. 

Super Bird Creations Chewable Paper Bird Toy

Cali upgraded, built, and planted a dozen of his brilliantly redesigned toy around and inside both macaw cages.

DIY popsicle stick toy with four groups of popsicle sticks safely glued into each chamber for chewing and preening parrot toy fun.

Snickers likes straight forward toy design. Wood? Destroy it. Stainless Steel anything? Bang it. Sticks? Chew them down to the nub. Corks? Grind them to nothing. Snickers adopted the upgraded design and created four different ways to attack it, depending on the size. He's methodical. A blanket of colorful nibs grows under him as he snips in a haze of meditation. Butters tried that. She shrugged and said, "Meh."

She sits on them. That requires no work. She sits on the new ones. Obviously, you cannot sit on a used one, that would be ridiculous. All divas know this.

Butters, a 10-year-old blue and gold macaw sitting on top of a popsicle parrot toy, rather than chewing on it.

How does a human play with their parrot? Follow their lead. Throw out the user manual for the toys you bring home and wait for your parrot to show you what's what about that.

Try one or all of these playing with your parrot ideas.

  1. Talk, laugh, engage, question. Playing with a parrot is no different than engaging with a small child and their toys, new or old.
  2. Answer a gesture. Did your bird launch their toy across the room? That wasn't judgement of a toy. That was an invitation to play fetch. Laugh, get the toy and toss it back where they started the game. Parrots love fetch.
  3. Got bell? Does their toy make sound? Help them bang, clang, ring, ding, cling, and bonk that toy. Go team! Your parrot likes teamwork.
  4. Free play is not trick training. I prefer free play to expose things my birds love to do, not things I want them to do for entertainment. Free play requires we suggest ideas and uses with toys and items while we wait for them to show us what they like about that idea, and what they want to change. It might lead to a trick, it might not. It does not matter. 
  5. Forget expectations. All of them. Watch a kindergarten class during recess. Nobody's playing tag right. They're barely sticking to the idea. Most times the idea turns into a giggling mass of little people running in circles because they all forgot who's it. And they do not care. They are having fun.
Parrots are kindergarteners during recess, and they are not paying attention to rules. They are paying attention to who is playing with them. That's your job. In a nutshell. Pun intended. Because those are fun.
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.

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