(Please also refer to "Toy Safety")
We have come a long way from those days when our birds were given a chain with a few wooden cubes on it. Toy makers incorporate a lot of veterinary recommended foraging ideas into these toys. In addition to commercial toys, don't forget valuable "freebies" -- such as plastic bottle and pen tops. Parrots usually LOVE to play with them for hours. Also refer to foraging for fun ideas and inexpensive ways to keep your pet happy and entertained.
Variety is the key. Get a few toys in each category to ensure that your pets' physical and mental needs are being addressed - and rotate them weekly to stimulate curiosity and prevent boredom.
The key categories are:
Highly recommended by avian professionals as they provide an excellent outlet to require your bird to work for its food as it would have to do in the wild. Examples of foraging toys are those in which treats can be hidden, skewered and or imbedded. Foraging toys should be placed at a variety of levels throughout the cage to encourage movement and exploration. Highly therapeutic and fun! Please also vist this website for foraging tips / tricks.
Boredom and stress in caged birds can often lead to over-preening or feather plucking or even, progressively, to self-mutilation. Rope preening toys provide an excellent outlet for birds to satisfy their desire to preen and to discourage feather picking and mutilation. Toys that keep these birds' attention off their plumage, such as foraging toys, are recommended.
Chewing is a major activity in the wild - and is especially important for the mid-size to larger parrots. In nature they will spend a great deal of their days "customizing" their environment and burrowing nests into tree trunks. Wood and leather toys provide hours of safe chewing fun and an alternative to destroying your furniture. Larger birds should be challenged with harder woods. Balsa, pine or vine based materials are excellent for smaller birds.
In the wild, birds enjoy physical contact with their mates, often snuggling up to them on branches. Caged birds, especially when they are alone, like to snuggle up to or crawl into something soft and cuddly. This alleviates their stress and provides them with a sense of security. Examples of comfort toys are the Peekaboo Perch Tents and Snuggle Rings. Lovebirds, conures are known for appreciating these kind of toys / cage accessories - but so do other parrots as well. My African Grey likes to hang out in his tent during the daytime - peeking out of the window in comfort. At night, he sleeps on a perch.
Swings and bungees are two excellent examples of toys that encourage movement and provide birds with an outlet for exercise. Other items that will provide healthy exercise are: climbing toys like ladders, knotted ropes and hand-held claw toys. Also, encouraging flying between perches, if your pet is flighted.
Manipulative / Mechanical Toys:
Birds are very intelligent and inquisitive creatures. Many are reported to enjoy untying knots, undoing nuts and bolts and deconstructing cages to escape. Providing puzzle solving toys and toys that require manipulation will stimulate these birds mentally.