4 Fun Games For The Birds (And You!)

4 Fun Games For The Birds (And You!)

 March 15th, 2010
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Blue and Gold Macaw

The cutest things on the planet may very well be (and not necessarily in this order): a baby cracking up laughing, kittens doing just about anything, and birds playing.  Some of the very best memories I have of my birds are of them playing, especially when it involves me.  There’s something so precious about watching the determination of a 100 gram bird tug on something twice its size, and the lengths they will go to to accomplish an nearly impossible task.  I am always on the lookout for things that will peak the curiosity of a nosy bird to inspire play.

Here are some things you can make quickly and inexpensively that can change and grow with your imagination, all of which work best with your involvement:

1.  Birdie tunnel (budgies/finches):
You can make this simple toy from a cardboard paper towel roll and two shoeboxes.  Remove the lids from the shoeboxes and place them open side up.  Cut a hole in one short side of each box just large enough for an end of the paper towel roll to fit through.  Connect all the pieces together with the paper towel roll in the center.  It will look like a dumbbell when you’re through.
I have a friend with 3 little budgies that spent hours with this bird toy.  Eventually she raised the height of the tube to the top of the box and created ramps and steps and climbing ropes for her budgies to reach it.  They went to great lengths to get to that tunnel,  they’d race through and start again from the other side.

White Budgies

2.  Birdie Maze:
Thesecan be both fun and interesting for your bird.  If you have smaller birds, budgies to conures, the  walls to the maze are easily constructed from Legos.  At first make the maze more of a winding tunnel and coax him through it with treats.  As he gets better at finding his way, make dead ends and false passageways that cause him to have to evaluate his moves.  If your bird is a cheater, and flies to the top of the wall to find his way, you can cover the top with a towel if he feels comfortable with that.
For the larger bird, you will need taller, more sturdy walls.  You’d have to have A LOT of Legos.  My daughter’s umbrella cockatoo, Abu, actually taught me this game while I was packing for a move.  She created her own maze from the cartons that were slowly overtaking the living room.  She had a ball.  I told a friend about Abu’s game.  This guy had the largest record collection I had ever seen and he used the milk crates he stored his albums in to create a maze for his amazon.  Last I had heard from him, he had still not returned his record collection to it’s original spot.  This game might not work well for some macaws because their tail is always dawdling two feet behind them.
3.  Play Mat:
What bird doesn’t have the time of his life trying to remove the buttons from your clothing?  Or trying to disassemble your jewelry?  The play mat offers all of those opportunities and more…
Take an old blanket and sew beads, buttons, bows and bells to it.  Or you could be a rebel, and use things that don’t start with a “B”.  You could use a towel and sew on plastic rings, keys, leather strips with beads, wooden cutouts and pretty much anything else you can think of that your bird would enjoy.  The fun for the birds seems to be in tugging on the items, just like the buttons on your shirt.  When you are done playing it folds right up for storage.  If  it becomes soiled, you can put it in a lingerie bag and machine wash it, depending on the durability of the items you have sewn on.
I had made one of these for the cockatiels years ago and this post inspired me to make another. I did make one for Linus, my umbrella cockatoo, a short time after he arrived to live with me.  His efforts were spent trying to fold it back up or dragging it around behind him by one of the plastic rings. I wasn’t yet aware of what a tyrant Linus was with toys, always trying to bend them to his will and make them do things they weren’t designed to do.  He had a good time, though, and that’s the point.

Congo African Grey Parrot, Galah

4.  “Greyzilla”:
I read about this guy somewhere who made a little city out of appropriately sized Legos for his African grey and made up this game called Greyzilla.  It was the grey’s role to come along to destroy and terrorize the city and all it’s tiny, little people.  It was the human’s job to portray the little Lego people running from Greyzilla and begging for their lives.  As Greyzilla crashed his way through town, he showed little mercy for the Lego-ites.  If I remember correctly, though, this compassionate monster tried to reassemble the city when he was through, although probably not to Legoville building code standards.  I can only imagine how much fun they must have had.

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49 Comments on “4 Fun Games For The Birds (And You!)”

Kristine  03/24/2010 10:47 am

Could you show pictures of these toys?

Carly  03/24/2010 9:44 pm

I love the description of the Greyzilla!!!

Ushi Soames  04/06/2010 12:29 pm

I love all the tips and help Birdtricks.com so regularly offer and have posted comments, thank yous’ and ask questiones about certain Bird problems and more then once wanted to order items and have never once received a reply! What am I doing wrong? Ushi Soames

Jamieleigh  04/06/2010 6:27 pm

If you have questions specifically for our customer service, you can contact them by emailing them at info@birdtricks.com. Hope this helps, Ushi.

Chet  04/07/2010 1:14 am


I don’t have time to answer everyone’s questions personally… I just don’t have the time. But I do read all the comments and try to answer the most common questions in my weekly newsletters. Sorry I haven’t gotten to your yet.

cnberg  04/11/2010 7:23 am

are there any pictures

dj  05/13/2010 2:02 am

fantastic – i will be sewing bits and bobs onto a teatowel for our 6 month old cockatiel – he will love it as he is missing “his dad” who is away with his work at the moment – i just seem to be no repacement LOL. thank you for more ideas

Sandie Loots  06/01/2010 3:32 am

Hi All,

Great advice on how to give our beloved feathered friends some new stimulation. Anything that we should be especially cautious of when sewing our amusement park together? I have a Congo Grey and will look out for things to add to her play strip but am very wary of putting stuff on that may not be in the best interest of my beloved Lexi Gray.

Thanks for these amazing ideas!

Tamara  06/22/2010 2:12 pm

I have a patagonian conure that finds allowed items utterly non-inspiring. Every time I give him something to play with, or make him a toy, he glares at it with an expression that’s everything but curious, like:” I hope you don’t expect me to play with this unworthy contraption.” But the buttons, only those on my clothes naturally, well… And he loves to wrestle:)

Maple  06/27/2010 12:54 am

Really great and fun ideas! So nice of you to share them like this as well.

Peep, peep from little Maple the lovebird!

Ron  06/28/2010 12:10 pm

Chet, I love this kind of stuff. I think it inspires all of us. Please send more of this kind of thing.
I would like to add one… Stuff one the the bird’s toys in a paper towel tube. If you can stand the mess, leave a couple of paper towels on the roll. They love digging out the toy,

Karina  06/29/2010 2:15 pm

I love all of your ideas.my fav. Game was the last 1 !

susan hepburn  07/03/2010 12:42 pm

Thanks ,I love playing with my cockatiel(Opie!) Your games sound fun and easy to make.My friends favorite toy is his talking cell phone .I have to take off him every now and then,it drives us crazy too!! I want to get him a mate to really h ave interaction and a bigger cage for space to play indoors more. His favotrite thing to do is fly and eat my nose studLOL
I love to read your site ,thanks Chad for the pics too,Susan

thomas  07/08/2010 9:27 pm

can i have one your parrots please

Patty  07/09/2010 10:20 pm

Hi Thomas,
Right now, I have one in mind…

Orysia Earhart  08/10/2010 12:26 pm

I eagerly look forward to these hints that you post. They’re filled with marvelous ideas that I use with my own African Grays and lots of fun for us. The best part is that I can make toys from what I already have at home. Keep up the good work. Orysia

chris  09/04/2010 5:54 pm

my amazon parrot loves the empty cat boxes of pouches.One way of stopping screaming is to say night night which is what happens at bedtime.I have been unlucky in obtaining a hand phobic bird.I think he has had problems prior to my purchase of him.However I will persevere and give him the best I can

Sarah  09/10/2010 12:45 am

Thanks for the great game ideas. My Galah doesn’t play with any toys I buy her. Though she loves to put keys in a metal pot to get a reward! Maybe these ideas will get her attention to play. thanks Bird Tricks you are wonderful, love all the emails you send!

DeeLC  11/08/2010 1:53 am

I made a netting out of cotton rope and hung it over the outside perch I put all kinds of yard stuff and toys on it. My parrot enjoyed the making of it but he has some very definite trust issues and willnot climb on it! The only toy he really plays with is the one he picked out the day I bought him ten years ago. I think I’ll try the button blanket idea and a smaller one so I can wear it on my shoulder.

Kim  11/11/2010 4:13 pm

Our budgie enjoys a hollowed out half coconut shell, you let it dry so it’s just the wood shell) and it is like a spinning disc for him. He spends hours playing on and in it, it tips, but never tips over, great fun! Sometimes i also put interesting bits in for him too like safe butons, or sparkly large buttons that he cant swallow and he plays with them and attempts to carry them up to the top of his cage to his treat bowl. Thanks for the great tips!

Kathy Todd  11/14/2010 3:58 pm

Thank you for sharing with us – ideas and pics!

Paul  11/15/2010 1:15 pm

Could you show pictures of these toys?

Errol Helton  12/06/2010 8:34 am

Give them a paper plate…they’ll entertain themselves for hours. When they tire of surfing the plate, they’ll make confetti with it and have even more fun. Errol

ashley  12/21/2010 12:04 am

my cockatiel Paully loves his new “play mat” 🙂

MQ  12/27/2010 6:03 pm

wow Amazing games specially Budgies I’ll try it
but it will be better if you showed pics of the toys

SHARON  01/08/2011 1:06 pm


Vivian Fink  01/08/2011 8:05 pm

I like to knit and my sun conure, Sunshine likes to “help”. Sometimes the results are less than desirable. So, I made a game for Sunshinethe lightof mylife. A knitting game! I keep my stitch markers in an old lozenge tin. I put it out with a few of my nylon rings on top. Sunshine had a blast tapping on the tin, throwing rings, chewing rings, and telling me all about it. S/he climbed up my arms with the ring in tow, put it on my shoulder and bobbed his/her head like crazy. Then flopped down to capture and kill another one. I didn’t get much knitting done for laughing! Next time, I will string some rings on a leather thong.

Martha  01/13/2011 12:23 am

Good games! Next time you shop a pet store, look through the pet rodent section. Best thing I ever got my birds was an immitation hollow log with a branch hole.. I hung this from the ceiling with a thick rope so it swings in mid-air with the branch hole aimed up. My parakeets (Peek-a-boo & Einstein) and cockatiels (Jerry & Clown) go nuts trying to surprise each other popping up out of the branch hole or nipping at tails sticking out either end. The keets like to hide from me inside the log when I call them back to their cage.

Patty  01/13/2011 10:48 am

Hi Martha,
What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

angela  01/17/2011 11:54 pm

my bird loves to go into the cave i make out of the blankets on the bed we play hide and seek i say that and she knows its time for fun though she naws on me when she rolls over on her back

monica fisher  01/22/2011 12:18 pm

Although it’s lots of work, I keep Charlie (Greenwing) entertained with cardboard egg cartons. Stuff then with paper to shred, a few seeds and nuts and other miscellaneous stuf to forage through and tie it shut with twine.
I also tie paper plates and wicker plate holders face to face with twine and stuff that with forage goodies. I use coffee filters to roll up a few pellets and twist the ends closed. Not only does he have to forage them out of the plates or carton, he has to tear them open to get the food.
The down side is that while he’s ‘killing’ the carton and plates he’s pretty loud, but clearly happy.

Joyce  01/28/2011 5:38 pm

I see what you mean about a tunnel. What I did for my conure is, got one of those eatable tunnels from the store that was for a hamster. I thought since you could eat it, it would not hurt Julio. He has a clean tuna can he slides around the bottom of his cage. I fill it with toys and treats and put this inside the tunnel. He just loves it! He pushes the tuna can through the tunnal…so cute

Anne  02/07/2011 10:48 am

My two lovebirds (and one is a disabled bird,legs paralyzed,but fully flighted) LOVE a plate full of broken hazelnuts (instead of throwing the nut after we ate it,we keep the wooden part),they play in the plate and hrow all the hazelnuts around,and my paralyzed bird stays on the hazelnuts,boss the other one,who picks up what she throw around 😉 the hazelnuts come from a family garden,so no pesticids on it ,-)

Vickie  03/14/2011 7:32 pm

trying to keep 2 rainbow lorrakeets entertained is a never ending story thanx 4 the tips need ALL the ideas i can get.

Annette Parker  03/20/2011 3:03 am

Does anybody know how to stop a Rainbow Lorikeet biting at my ears and hair.. he goes a bit nuts on my shoulders so I get too nervous to get him out – I’ve tried gently grabbing his beak and the NO command but it seems to make it a challenge… he’s great at playing and loves to be near me but it’s ruining the fun we have.. ;-(

Maria Van Hooydonck  04/01/2011 7:19 pm

I have a question: I am going to buy a parkeet but as I am a woman, should I buy a male bird, or doesn’t make this a difference in friendship of the bird?
Thanks for your advice!

Jamieleigh  04/01/2011 10:54 pm

It doesn’t really make a difference but in our experience we like male parakeets better 🙂

Vavoom  04/05/2011 2:48 pm

My blue crown loves to wrestle with me! He’s very ornary and playful… How can I continue to play with him like this (since he clearly enjoys it SO much) but without allowing him to hurt me?!? When I’m on the couch watching tv & he gets in the mood to play he just flies over and literally rolls from my shoulder down my chest and lays on his back and starts playing. He bites my neck, fingers, and anything else he can get ahold of! He waves his head around like he’s crazy LOL. I know he’s just playing and he’s having a blast, but sometimes it really hurts and I don’t want to punish him for trying to play with me so please tell me how I can keep this up but without the pain!

Nanieke  05/22/2011 6:01 am

This is sooo cool! I’ve already started making the play mat. Thanks for these tips, your blog is always inspiring!

Rachel Eason  06/22/2011 8:41 pm

Thank you so much for these Ideas!!! I feel kinda silly for not thinking of this….but I did think of taking fruit and cutting it into slices and wrapping them in newspaper. My birds spend all day breaking into it to get to their food!! keeps them busy when I am at work or TRYING to do house work!! 🙂

Sonia Ruiz  07/02/2011 6:37 am


Leslie  07/09/2011 11:00 am

Great ideas! My grey loves to take apart the big legos and then toss them around. he also loves to tear apart toilet paper rolls – we stuff them with toys and treats. Small boxes inside of larger boxes keep him busy if there’s a treat or toy here and there.

Jeni  07/20/2011 3:12 pm

This blog couldn’t have came to me at a more perfect time. Me and Ozzy, my goffins cockatoo, are at this point where I’m just not as entertaining to him as I once was. He doesn’t hate me, infact, he’s developed behavioral problems like screaming because he WANTS so much to do fun things with me. I, of course, want the same thing. We’re actually possibly together too much. You may think I’m lying but this can be entirely possible. I have a disability that makes leaving my home very challenging… and so I’m pretty much home all day/everyday… and as you can probably imagine, it gets incredibly boring not to even mention the loneliness. When I was about 19 yrs. old, I met someone with a pet parrot. I was immediately attached to these magnificent creatures. I started reading about them all the time and visiting pet stores to interact with them. Visiting was harder to do with my disability but not impossible. I searched on Craigslist a lot but no success. It wasn’t until my fience took me to a particular store that had all kinds of parrots to choose from. There were so many & all were beautiful and well behaved, but after interacting with each one a little, I had not felt a deep connection with any of them. Then, I stepped out of the room where all the birds were… or so I thought:-) only to find a gorgeous, male Goffins who had stolen my heart the moment I first layed eyes on him. The site of Ozzy just hanging out on Steve, my fience’s, sweater, made me AWWW since Steve wasn’t into parrots, just there supporting me. There’s Steve (not even wanting me to bring one home or be in the bird room) waiting for me, when Ozzy, who was observing shoppers quietly from a playgym, decided to use Steve as a playgym and hopped on as he walked past. I don’t know how Ozzy did it, I was in the other room, but he won Steve’s heart over before Steve even had a clue… lol. He’s a huge part in our lives. We teach him things but also learn from him. These new, cute games are just what my family needs to get all the fun and excitement back in our home:-) I just don’t have enough creativity to come up with simple and awsome ideas like these. Thanks a million from all of us!!! I’m going to do the play mat first definately… I know he’s going to love it. Thank-you thank-you thank-you!!!

melissa crider  09/30/2011 1:52 pm

My blue and gold named Mikia loves to get Presents. I wrap up some treats in a empty kleenex box complete with bow. she love ripping it open and discovering the goodies inside.

Also she likes to empty full boxes of kleenex, pulling them out one by one . I think she is amazed by the way they just keep coming. And she likes to feel the victory of depleting them. When she’s pulled the last one out she says”ALL GONE” and laughs .

Sheila  03/11/2012 11:47 pm

I love these tips and ideas! Keep them coming!

Faith  04/12/2012 12:43 am

I thought about paper tube and news paper and all that stuff but worry about the toxicity of glue and print on it will it hurt the bird if they eat it?

Jayda  07/15/2012 1:29 pm

what if your bird hate lying on its back and wont go upside down

Syl  03/05/2013 11:07 pm

I have an Indian Ring Neck. Fairly Young. Barely getting its ring. Tweety just goes sleuth on my earrings. Pretends to not see them, nuzzles up to my hair and then Wham ! Now I don’t wear earrings when Tweety is out flying around the house. I recently had an idea, I thought use shredded paper from the shredder to cover the bottom of the cage as no matter what I put down it was shredded anyway. Tweety then had great fun tossing the shredded papers out, digging in with his/her head and just diggin getting buried in it. So I got a package with those large popcorns for packing. I thought those she can’t toss and they will be something she can bite! Alas, she is very intent on demolishing and shredding them she enjoys moving them from one side of the cage to the other. And I hear the crunching of the popcorns. She does not eat it just has great fun snapping them in half.

Riley  08/09/2015 1:52 pm

Our Grey loves boxes – we make him a little “birdie condo” on top of his cage with several boxes put together with doorways and windows leading from one to another. It keeps him entertained for hours as he chews this way through all the rooms! He will peek out the “windows” when we call him.