Making Toys for Cockatiels

Fill that empty cage with toys to entertain your cockatiel.

Fill that empty cage with toys to entertain your cockatiel.

Cockatiels love to play with toys. keep them occupied when you aren't around to interact with them. Without toys, your bird could become bored, resulting in behavioral issues like feather plucking. Don't buy those toys -- make them at home.

String together several wooden beads that vary in size from 1/2 inch to 1 inch, on natural, unbleached cotton rope. You can also use wood blocks of about the same size if you drill holes through the middle of them to string the rope through. Make knots in the rope between beads. Poke holes in the middle of a few small squares of vegetable-tanned leather pieces, using scissors, and string them between the beads to vary the texture and give your little one something to chew on. Hang the toy from the top or side of your cockatiel's cage.

Soak a pine cone for 15 to 20 minutes in a solution of 1 cup of vinegar and 1 gallon of water to prepare it for use as a toy. Dry it for a day before baking it in the oven on a cookie sheet for two hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit to kill organisms. Place it on the bottom of your cockatiel's cage or hang it with some cotton rope tied around the top. Cover it with peanut butter and a bit of seed for your bird to munch on and play with.

Crumple up small squares of plain, white printer paper or tissue paper, free of dyes, ink or wax, as listed on the paper's packaging. Hide some cockatiel delicacies like seeds, nuts, dried fruit or dried pepper seeds inside the crumpled paper pieces. Place them around your feathered friend's cage for him to forage out the tasty treats they contain.

Dip uncooked macaroni pieces into varying vivid food colorings to create a rainbow selection of bird-safe beads. Allow the pieces to dry overnight. String the macaroni pieces onto cotton rope or a vegetable-tanned leather cord through the center of the pasta pieces. Knot the bottom of the string and hang it above your cockatiel's favorite perch. The dried pasta is safe for him to nibble on and play with.

Make a rolling treat-filled toy for your cockatiel by cutting a hole large enough for your bird to fit his head into, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, in the middle of an empty toilet paper roll, using a pair of scissors. Stuff crumpled white printer or tissue paper in one end to close it off. Fill the roll with millet spray, dried fruit, dried veggies or dried hot peppers, using your hand to cover the hole in the middle so nothing falls out. Stuff crumpled paper into the other end to close it off as well. Place the roll in your cockatiel's cage, hole-side-up, for him to discover and explore the yummy treats inside through the hole in the middle -- he can roll it around a bit to get them out. Inquisitive cockatiels may remove the paper stuffed in the sides to get to the food, providing a fun foraging challenge for them. Replace the treats and paper inside as necessary.

Items you will need

  • Wooden beads or blocks
  • Natural cotton rope
  • Drill
  • Vegetable-tanned leather pieces
  • Scissors
  • Pine cone
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 gallon water
  • Cookie sheet
  • Peanut butter
  • Seed
  • Plain paper
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Dried pepper seeds
  • Uncooked macaroni
  • Food coloring
  • Vegetable-tanned leather cord
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Millet spray
  • Dried vegetables
  • Dried hot peppers


  • Rotate your homemade toys for your cockatiel weekly to prevent boredom, cleaning them thoroughly. Throw out ones that are old, frayed or dirty and can't be cleaned or repaired.
  • Use toys inside and outside his cage. You can incorporate these toys in a cage-free cockatiel playground.
  • If you're concerned about germs accumulating on toilet paper rolls in the bathroom, remove the paper from rolls to use separately, keeping the roll itself from sitting for a period in the bathroom.


  • Avoid using chains, jingle-type bells, clapper bells and S-hooks in your cockatiel toys, which could catch your birdie's toes and beak, leading to painful injuries.
  • Use plain, unvarnished and unpainted wooden beads to make cockatiel toys so you can be sure they don't contain any potential toxins.
  • Scrape any globs of glue off empty toilet paper rolls with a knife. Some types of glue may be toxic to birds if ingested.

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About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

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