I mentioned in a recent post that Charlie likes to explore textures and shapes in the toy box on the table next to my living room chair. Every cockatiel has different tastes and interests. Before Charlie learned play behaviors from Chipper, he never knew what a toy was and what could be done with it. Chipper was a handfed baby; Charlie was raised wild in an aviary and never bonded with people.
Chipper prefers his play to be shredding and chewing on cardboard books and boxes, and willow baskets and wood discs.
Charlie likes these items too (learned behavior), but without the influence of Chipper, he seems most drawn to discovering the taste and feel of textures of various objects. The items are extremely simpld and cheap to buy. For pennies, you can make a cockatiel extremely happy and stimulated. You might have to shell out $20-30 at one go to get these toy ingredients, but they last a long time. Here are some of those objects:
These are wood and plastic beads of a small size which are too large for a cockatiel to swallow but inappropriate for larger parrots. On the right is a piece of leather. All can be strung on seagrass or hemp rope, or stainless steel “kabob” made for safe bird use. In Charlie’s case, he has an extra large food cup inside his cage where these, and similar objects, are placed. When he’s in the mood, he’ll spend a good half hour picking up each item, mouthing it, chewing a bit, dropping onto his cage floor, etc. I place the cage “toy box” in a place where he’s most likely not to poop into it.
On the bottom is a toy strung together with seagrass, which I bought from Parrot Asylum in a large coil. The birds LOVE to chew on this. Above the toy is a medium thick roll of untreated hemp string I bought from my local food co-op. They also LOVE this stuff. They’ll mouth and chew on it till it gets soft. (Caution: Be sure to watch daily for possible foot traps and remove anything that could be dangerous.)
This is a popular toy of my invention using lollypop sticks, beads, and safe fruit branch bits. The branch parts (convenient with hole drilled in the middle) I bought from the rabbit/ferret section of a pet store.
Here’s the hard stuff! Good beak workout material here. The willow wreaths I get also from Parrot Asylum. These are universally loved by cockatiels (at least my universe of cockatiels). The pine rounds are very tempting too. The left one is new; the right has had the outer bark chewed off. Finally, the bottom wood wafers fun to string onto toys. Chipper loves these, Charlie sometimes chews on these; and Sam the Jardine’s Parrot finds these irresistible. I get these by the bagful from Birdsafe Store. You can get them normal thickness (for Sam) and thinner (for cockatiels – though Chipper has no problem with the thicker stuff if he’s determined.)
So go ahead, make your cockatiel happy!