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16 DIY Bird Toy Plans You Can Make Today (with Pictures)

Bird Playing Toy

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Dr. Tabitha Henson

Veterinarian, DVM

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Birds are highly intelligent creatures that need mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Birds in captivity can become bored very quickly, which can lead to behavioral issues, so you’ll need to provide your feathered pal with plenty of toys to keep them busy and happy.

Birds can be very hard on toys, though, and you might find yourself spending more money on toys than you initially expected when you adopted your feathered friend. If you can save a few dollars here and there by DIYing your bird’s toys, you definitely should. We’ve gone ahead and gathered 16 easy-to-make toys that any species of bird is sure to love.

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The 16 DIY Bird Toy Plans

1. Cupcake Liner Toy

Materials: Cupcake liners, paper straws, pin, craft raffia string, beads
Tools: Scissors
Difficulty: Easy

This cupcake liner toy is another simple DIY you can whip together in minutes. If you have kids, this project is a great one to get them involved with. Have your children flatten the cupcake liners, thread the beads, and cut the straws (if they’re old enough). If you don’t have beads or raffia string, make sure whatever material it is you’re substituting is bird-friendly and non-toxic.


2. Egg Carton Foraging Toy

Materials: Egg cartons, string
Tools: None
Difficulty: Easy

This egg carton foraging toy is probably the simplest and fastest DIY you’re going to read about today. You only need two supplies, both of which you probably already have in your home. Once you have constructed the toy, put your bird’s favorite treats into the cup pockets to encourage him to flex his foraging muscles.


 

3. Climbing Net

Materials: Rope
Tools: None
Difficulty: Advanced

Birds of all species love to climb, so there’s no better way to encourage this great physical and enriching activity than creating your own climbing net. While the supplies and tools needed are minimal, you do need to set aside some extra time to practice your knot-tying skills to get your net perfect.

Notes: Be sure to choose a rope that is not only made of bird-safe materials but that is the right diameter for your bird’s size.  Hemp, jute, and sisal rope may be sprayed with pesticides, and the rope you’ll find at your local hardware store is most likely treated to make it durable.


4. Toilet Paper Roll Treat Kabob

Materials: Empty toilet paper rolls, wood skewer, food
Tools: None
Difficulty: Easy

This toilet paper roll treat kabob is simple and quick to put together. All you need to do is stick the wooden skewer stick through the center of several empty toilet or paper towel rolls. Before you do this, though, place a bird-safe treat, veggie, or fruit in the middle of each roll, and then stick the skewer through the food item. This toy is made for one-time use only as you shouldn’t leave fresh food in your bird’s cage for more than a couple of hours.


5. Dixie Cup Foraging Toy

Materials: Dixie cups, leather, treats
Tools: Scissors
Difficulty: Easy

This dixie cup foraging toy is a great way to get some use out of the Dixie cups you may have had under your bathroom sink for the last several years. Use your scissors to poke a hole in the bottom of the cups, and then use bird-safe rope or leather to thread through the hole of each cup. Place a treat in each of the cups and watch your bird as he tries to figure out how to get to his snacks.


6. Bird Orbiter

Materials: 14-inch wood hoops, rope dog toys
Tools: Scissors
Difficulty: Moderate

While this project does take a little more time and cost a little extra than the others we’re looking at today, we had to include it because it’s so cute, and your birds will love it. The YouTube tutorial is thorough and simple to follow, so while this DIY requires more effort, it’s still not a difficult project to do.


7. Hanging Egg Carton Toy

Materials: Egg carton, rope, paper
Tools: Scissors
Difficulty: Easy

This hanging egg carton toy is a great way to use some of the recycling you have kicking around your home. All you need to do is poke holes in the egg carton and string the rope through the holes so you have something you can use to hang the toy in your bird’s cage. Use your recyclable paper to make accordion-style dangling paper pieces that you can affix to the bottom of the egg carton. Up the ante by tossing some colored paper strips inside the egg carton which, when closed, will act as a great foraging activity.


8. Paper Straw Toy

Materials: Paper straws, wooden beads, cupcake liners, zip ties
Tools: Crop-a-dile, scissors, snippers, pliers
Difficulty: Moderate

This paper straw toy is a little more difficult to put together than some of the other projects, but it can still easily be put together in less than an hour. One of the great things about this project is how customizable it is. Feel free to add whatever you like to your toy to make it your own.


9. Small Bird Pet Swing

Materials: Wood, sticks or wooden dowels, glue, rope, beads
Tools: Drill
Difficulty: Advanced

This project is not so much a toy as it is a mini bird playground. It does require some extra work and research to get it right, but we think the result is worth it. One thing to note is that you need to ensure that the wood and the sticks you’re using are bird-safe; otherwise, you run the risk of unintentionally poisoning your pet.


10. Recycled Puzzle Piece Toy

Materials: Puzzle pieces, string or rope
Tools: Drill, scissors
Difficulty: Easy

This recycled puzzle toy is a great way to breathe new life into old puzzles you have collecting dust in your closet. First, decide how long you want your bird’s toy to be. The length of the toy will be determined by how many puzzle pieces you stack together. Drill holes into each puzzle piece and string them together using your string or rope.


11. Toilet Paper Ball

Materials: Empty toilet paper roll
Tools: Scissors
Difficulty: Easy

In case you need another reason to save your empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls, here’s another simple DIY bird toy that you can use them for. This project calls for cutting one-inch strips off of your empty roll and putting each slice inside another slice until it forms a makeshift ball.

For added fun, toss in some peanuts or other treats into the ball to keep your bird occupied for a while.


12. Upcycled Foraging Toy

Materials: Bottle caps, beads, twine, lobster clip
Tools: Drill
Difficulty: Easy

Leave it to the users of a bird-centric online forum to come up with some great DIY bird toy ideas. This upcycled foraging toy puts your old plastic bottle caps to good use. All you need to do is drill a hole in each of the bottle caps and thread them onto your bird-safe twine or rope. Separate each cap with a plastic bead for a pop of color. Put your bird’s favorite food or treat into the bottle cap compartment to give your pet a mental workout.


13. Foraging Basket

Materials: Basket, toys, crinkle paper, treats
Tools: None
Difficulty: Easy

This basket toy provides a very simple way to keep your birds entertained for a while, and it’s great because it is meant for use outside of their cage. This is, by far, the easiest DIY you’ll read about here today. All you need to do is throw all of the toys and crinkle paper into the basket and add your birds. Put some treats in the basket to add a foraging element to your bird’s new toy.


14. Wood Toy

Materials: Wood, beads, paper straws, large nuts, Wiffle balls, any part from other toys that may have been destroyed, leather lace
Tools: Drill
Difficulty: Easy

This is another very simple bird toy you can customize with what you have on hand. The original creator used pine scraps that he had from previous projects, but you can use whatever bird-safe wood you may have at your disposal. Drill holes into the wood and string through your leather lace, adding on straws, beads, and old toys as you go.


15. Cardboard Foraging Tubes

Materials: Empty paper towel or toilet paper roll, string, bead, woodblocks, treats
Tools: Scissors
Difficulty: Easy

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the possibilities with an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll are endless. This cardboard foraging tube DIY can be put together in under five minutes with supplies you probably already have kicking around your home. Squeeze together the ends of the empty toilet paper roll and use your scissors to poke a hole through the flattened area. Thread your bird-safe string through the hole and add your beads and woodblocks to the string. You can even stuff your bird’s favorite treats into the tube.


16. Phonebook Foraging Toy

Materials: Phonebook, treats
Tools: None
Difficulty: Easy

If you happen to have any old phone books stuffed away in closets, it’s time to pull them out and put them to good use. This super simple phonebook foraging toy will take seconds to put together but will provide hours of entertainment for your bird. All you need to do is open the book up to the middle and crumple all the pages, so they stand up and have lots of enticing folds and pockets for your bird to explore. Put a few of his favorite treats into these pockets and watch the fun unfold.

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Why Do Birds Need Toys?

Birds are very intelligent creatures who need stimulation in their day-to-day lives, especially when they’re in captivity and don’t have their natural habitat to provide that stimulation. In the wild, birds spend about 90% of their day foraging. Bored birds will not only become an annoyance to their owners, but they can become physically destructive to themselves.

Toys are great as they can not only boost their mental health but also provide a way for them to wear down their beaks and nails.

Birds in captivity can become bored of the same toys every day, however, so the more toys you have, the better. We recommend switching all the toys in your bird’s cage out every week or two to keep them happy and stimulated.

Are There Any Materials I Should Avoid Using?

Yes, there are definitely some materials that you will need to avoid using as you begin your bird toy projects.

Here is a list of some of the materials you’ll want to avoid:
  • Woods like cedar, red cherry, plywood, oak, and all treated woods
  • Natural branches (unless they’re from bird-safe trees and can be disinfected)
  • Nylon rope
  • Zinc-coated chain
  • Dyed leather
  • Split key ring fasteners
  • Snap hook fasteners
  • Anything painted
  • Glue
  • Sleigh bells

Things like acrylic toys are okay for birds so long as they’re built to withstand your pet’s beak. Plastic or acrylic toys designed for smaller birds like parakeets can be destroyed in seconds by larger birds.

Things like rings need to be picked strategically, too. You don’t want any rings in the cage that your bird could get his head stuck in.

What Are the Best DIY Toy Materials?

Now that you know some of the materials you should avoid using in your bird toy projects, let’s take a brief look at some of the bird-safe materials you should reach for instead.

  • Woods like pine, birch, poplar, maple, walnut
  • Ropes made with 100% natural fibers
  • Stainless steel chains
  • Thick acrylic
  • Vegetable-tanned leather
  • Natural dye
  • Shreddable plant-based materials like paper or straw weave
  • Coconut pieces
  • Pinecones
  • Clean shells

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Final Thoughts

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars every year on toys for your pet bird. With a little patience and ingenuity, you can DIY plenty of toys for your bird with materials you probably already have in your home. Your bird won’t know the difference between a $20 pet store toy and one that you made in 10 minutes in your kitchen.


Featured Image Credit: jaanasaksman, Pixabay

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