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Recycle, Reuse, Rebuild

by Gaye Thomasson

Iʼm a big fan of recycling, and it doesn’t stop with what I discard from my house.  Recycling can have a hefty impact on your pocket regarding your parrots as well.  As we all know, our feathered buddies donʼt see the dollar signs when you hang a new toy in their cages. If there is a mental process at work, it probably goes something like this: “Hmmm, look at this new toy. Nice. Lots of colors, tons to chew on. Must have cost a pretty penny. Now I will destroy it. Hey, Polly, Tweetie, can one of you time me?”  Itʼs their job. We all know it. We buy it. They kill it. And that applies to all those cute toys that we make for our birds, too. So, how can we slow down this mass destruction and save the strain on the birdie budget? My answer to the dilemma is recycling.

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I make most of the toys that my birds have. They consist of lots of drilled and chopped up 2×4ʼs, 2×2ʼs and 1×4ʼs pine pieces. When I have a chance I dye the wood. When I donʼt have the time and the birds need more toys, I skip that step. The birds really donʼt seem to care. Itʼs an esthetic thing. For me.  The bigger cuts of wood starts out on the large toys; many pieces hung on a foundation for my macaws. The pieces that are not drilled but chopped, get dropped into their stainless steel toy buckets hung on the insides of their cages for foot toys. So let the games begin.

Within a day, the bottoms of the cages are full of wood chips, partial pieces and full pieces that, well, just got dropped with a little parrot distraction.  When I change papers every morning, I retrieve all of the salvageable pieces that are now of no interest. (I can just hear it now… “What?? Me go down there and pick THAT thing up? Not my job.”) I make sure that I do not save anything that has bird droppings on it – that wood is recycled elsewhere.  I collect all of those pieces and make some quick decisions as Iʼm pulling old papers and replacing: Is it big enough to restring because the hole is still intact? Is it just a chunk? Then into the bucket it goes. Or has it been gnawed down to ʻAmazonʼ size? If thatʼs the case, my Amazons are the recipients of ʻnewʼ chew toys, and into their buckets they go! I go through the same process with my Amazons, who not only enjoy their bucket goodies, but also a box or pile of treasures on the bottoms of their cages.

This method can also be applied to destroyed toys that have good SS chain, O rings, quick links, and other toy parts remaining. Recycle, reuse, rebuild. Itʼs a great way to get creative and save some money. (Do we really think our birds rate us on our creativity??) So donʼt pitch out broken toys or wood chunks. Save what you can and try this approach, if you havenʼt already, and just know your birds will think youʼve gone and spent a bunch of money on them! “Look, Kiwi, she put a new toy in here!”


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