How often have you heard at Christmas time or at birthday parties that children have more fun playing with the box rather than the toy that came in it? By the same token, I am finding my parrots will choose to play with the snaps on Jerry's shirt; a dog or child's toy; or an ordinary object found around the house in preference to a more conventional store bought parrot toy. I've learned my parrots are not at all unique in this preference for making toys out of ordinary household objects, books, baby toys, or buttons on remote controls. Anything to keep them busy that doesn't jeopardize their safety or destroy my prized possessions is good, I'm thinking.
On the subject of destroying prized possessions, I am still wondering if this was such a good idea on my part. I planted several hanging baskets full of edible flowers and colorful Swiss chard greens and hung them on and around play stands in the aviary to encourage outdoor activity. I enjoyed sitting outside in the aviary watching my parrots nibble at the pansies while we all soaked up the sunshine. I now realize I hadn't thought far enough ahead when planning this activity. Consequently no indoor plant located near a play area is safe from curious beaks. The live plants are all on the safe list and I rotate out plants that are pruned to expose bare dirt. In the living and family rooms I'm learning to live with awkwardly pruned plants. It is destruction I can live with as it promotes activity and in most cases the leaves grow back.
Ruth Fahrmeier shares information on gardening for parrots in her article, "Plants and Parrots - a Personal Perspective" reprinted with her permission in The Parrot Enrichment Activity Book, Version 2; available as a free download at www.ParrotEnrichment.com.