Category: birds

How to Entertain a Bored Bird

Rosie 3

Quick ideas for pet toys that you can make with a minimum of fuss.

I have been looking for ways to keep Rosie the African Grey entertained. I’ve asked fellow bird owners and scoured the internet, and I am still looking. I want something that is easy to make (it’s going to be torn up in a day), and something I can recreate if she likes it.

Here are a couple of ideas for us all to try – if you have a favorite, or a tip please let me know and I will include it in a future post.

1. Pine Cones

Pine cones are pretty easy to come by in most places. For me, a pine cone found off the beaten path is the best. Even so they have to be prepared before being put in your bird’s flight.

Pick up pine cones that haven’t been on the ground long and soak them in a COLD vinegar water bath (1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water). This will clean the dirt and bugs out. Air dry for a day. Now it’s time to bake – place the pinecones on a foil covered cookie sheet and bake at 175 for 20-30 minutes. This is kill mold and bacteria. Cool – duh – and add them to your pet’s flight. You can hang them from the top or incorporate it into a forage basket and stuff appropriate treats  in the pine cone.

Time to forage

Birds love to dig through things and shred. Use undecorated and unvarnished wicker or fiber baskets, the brown paper (lunch-size) bags, or cardboard boxes. Do not use Styrofoam!

Fill with shredded paper, and tuck in treats, things they can pick up with their talons, pine cones, whatever is safe. This can be put attached to the cage or put on the floor of the cage. You may have to weigh it down with a stone.

If your bird doesn’t go for it immediately don’t despair. New things may take time to get used to. I would recommend switching it out every day, just as you would their food and water. Unstuffed pinecones can be left longer.

Are birds really good pets?

YES! But they need good owners.

Rosie 1
Rosie, is a talkative bird, that loves time out of her flight. But that time has to be closely supervised.

We have an African Grey named Rosie. She has a good vocabulary and will pick up obscure phrases from the T.V.  Recently she has taken to asking “Are you OK?” repeatedly.

She calls the cat (by her name Samantha), sings her own name, and tells Kodi to “shut up.” Now that I think about it I don’t think she has every said “Buddy.”

On the, “Why do I have this bird?” side of the bird experience, are the times she gets stuck on a sound, ALWAYS an annoying sound — the beeping of a truck backing up, and what can only be compared to a hammering sound. This cacophony ususally occurs when I am on the phone or trying to meet a deadline.

Rosie has a nice big cage, but I still would like to expand it in the future. Letting her out unattended is not an option; with a corgi, a Jack Russel and a cat. It isn’t that any of them have shown any interest in hurting her (cat included, though she is a cat after all), but they like to play and that could have dire consequences.

I personally would not leave any bird out on its own in the house. If someone needs to come into your house, firefighter, paramedic, or heaven forbid someone breaks in, your bird may indeed—fly the coop.

Birds get bored. Birds like African grays who are very interactive with humans, need mental and physical exercise, or they will find their own.

Birds are often purchased, or in Rosie’s case adopted, put in pretty cages and forgotten. Birds, like most of us, need quality interaction.

As I write this I realize I could go for pages and pages, so I will break it down over the next couple entries.

5 things you should be doing with your parrot

1. Physically play with them. Start small, take your index finger and gently rub the top of the beak. If they start to bite slowly RAISE your finger away, do not jerk back. In time you will become more comfortable, the bird will relax and you can move onto scratching her head. You may find your bird “soft bites.” If the pressure increases say a firm (not loud) “no” and remove your finger.

2. Toys – We all like toys, especially new toys. Rotate the toys in their flight a couple at a time. Don’t redecorate the whole cage at once, too much newness!

3. Music – Rosie likes the Moving Art Series on Netflix. Background noise, nothing blaring.

4. A room with a view – When Rosie starts acting up I roll her flight over to the sliding glass door. This gives her more light and a different view. I always move her back to the same stop at the end of the day when it’s time for bed.

5. Food routine – I am the one that feeds Rosie, twice a day – 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. A straight seed diet is not healthy for them. Rosie is not a fan of pellets (I have tried introducing them) What she does absolutely love is scrambled eggs sprinkled on her seed in the morning. Other favorites are French cut green beans and fruit. My husband has a banana every morning for breakfast and some always makes it into Rosie’s talon and bowl. has a good list of easy to make bird treats

Not all food is good for birds. Check with your vet, a local bird group or

Introduce new food in small quantities to the existing diet, even if your bird is on a straight seed diet right now. Birds do not usually like new things in their bowls and may stop eating entirely. If they eat around the new food or drop it to the floor of their cage keep trying. You can also try letting the bird take new food from you hand.

WASH vegetables—even food labeled organic should be rinsed thoroughly with water and patted dry. I do not use any vegetable wash on food that will be going into Rosie’s bowl.

Tomorrow we can explore ways to keep your bird occupied and happy.