Bird toys and games aren’t just about keeping your pet entertained. These activities are necessary for their physical and mental health. The goal with enrichment is to mimic your bird’s natural behaviors, like foraging, perching, or digging, but you don’t need fancy gadgets to do this. There are tons of DIY bird toys you can throw together at home.
Bird enrichment varies based on your pet’s species and size. You won’t create the same toys or engage in the same games with a canary as you would a duck because they have very different natural behaviors. Use this guide to provide your pet bird with exactly what they need to keep them happy.
The Association of Avian Veterinarians suggests “homemade foraging toys using safe items, such as cardboard boxes, unwaxed cups, cardboard egg cartons, or paper towel rolls" for birds to play with.
DIY Toys for Canaries and Small Birds
Thread bird-safe fruits onto a stainless-steel skewer and hang it in their cage to promote pecking behaviors.
Give your pet perches made out of different materials with a variety of textures to help them stretch and exercise their feet.
Playing soothing music or ambient sounds for your bird can provide them with auditory enrichment. And if they’re a songbird, like a canary, it can actually encourage them to sing!
DIY Toys for Pet Chickens
Chickens are incredibly intelligent birds that need mental stimulation to keep them busy. Similar to other bird species, a bored chicken can become a destructive chicken. Bullying and destroying areas of the coop are just a few of the behaviors you can see in chickens when they’re not engaging in enough enrichment. Try these enrichment DIYs.
Hang fruit or leafy greens from strings within your chicken’s coop to encourage them to stretch and peck for their yummy treat.
Make a fun DIY bird toy for your chicken friends by drilling holes in an empty water bottle and then filling it about 1/3 of the way with their feed. Hang the bottle so it’s low enough that they can peck at the holes for a fun and enriching time.
Make a DIY dust bath for your chickens using a large, shallow vessel and chicken dust.
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall
Mount a mirror in your yard for your chickens to marvel and peck at.
DIY Toys for Parrots & Budgies
Parrots come in all sizes, from the tiny budgie to the enormous macaw. Still, their enrichment needs are fairly similar. Just keep your bird’s size in mind when offering them DIY bird toys to prevent them from eating anything they shouldn’t.
Place treats, like seeds or nuts, in crumpled and rolled-up pieces of paper so they have to work for them.
Bead Foot Toy
String large beads on a piece of sisal, leaving a bit of room on the string to allow the beads to slide. Secure the beaded rope within their cage for them to play with as foot toys.
Weave a piece of lettuce through the bars of your pet’s cage or place a large broccoli floret on top of the cage to encourage foraging behavior.
Make a DIY swinging bird perch using a dowel of bird-safe wood and rope. Make sure the rope is secured well to prevent your pet from eating it.
Grab several small, unwaxed paper cups and place a few pieces of food or treats between each cup. Stack the cups and watch your parrot unstack them in order to get their reward.
If you’re familiar with origami or up for a challenge, make a paper ball to place treats inside.
Sprinkle shredded carrots, nuts, seeds, or bits of fruit out on a flat surface, like a table or the floor, to encourage ground foraging.
Parrots actually prefer working for their food even when there’s food available, which is a behavior called contrafreeloading.
DIY Toys for Pet Ducks
Ducks rely on water, which is why their enrichment toys and activities vary so much from other birds. Try these games to keep your duck from getting bored.
Freeze duck-safe veggies and fruits into a large block of ice, then float it in a kiddie pool or their typical body of water. They’ll peck at the food as the water melts.
Place floating treats, like a piece of lettuce, in their water course to encourage water foraging.
Hide treats within a sandbox to encourage your duck’s natural digging behavior.
Turn on a gentle sprinkler for your duck to play in.
Drill holes in an empty water bottle, then fill it about 1/3 full of their feed and resecure the lid. Your duck can peck and push it around to get the feed.
Enrichment for Your Bird's Life and Health
Enrichment is something you and your bird can engage in together. While you’re preparing their DIY toys or watching them forage for food, your bond is getting that much stronger. Think of it as work you’re putting in toward your relationship as well as your pet’s happiness.