1. Tailor the toy to the size of your Quaker. Ring-type toys should be too small for your Quaker to get his head into, or large enough to accommodate the entire bird. A bird can easily panic and strangle itself when it gets is head stuck in a ring hanging inside a cage. Toys that are made for large parrots are just that–for large parrots. Quakers can get their entire leg caught in a large parrot toy’s chain. Small to medium size toys made for parakeets, conures, and senegals will be the best size for a Quaker.
2. Even the best bird toys aren’t meant to last forever. The toy your Quaker will find most entertaining is the one that it can destroy. Give him one he can work on and eventually l eave in ruins at the bottom of the cage! Small wooden hanging toys are inexpensive and will provide your Quaker with many happy hours of chewing.
3. Know what the toy is made of. Avoid any chain that has lead content. If a chain is pliable in your hands, suspect the presence of lead in the composition of the metal.
4. Keep your Quaker in shape for its toys. Trimmed beaks and toenails are less likely to get caught or broken when playing with toys. Have the nails trimmed periodically and provide a block toy to keep the beak groomed. Do not attempt to trim beaks or nails yourself unless you are experiences and adept at the process.
5. Supervise your Quaker with its new toys. Never leave a Quaker alone with a new toy. Watch it closely to gauge its reaction and assess the situation for potential dangers.
6. Examine every toy for potential hazards. Loose parts, wires, small beads and flimsy construction can all contribute to deadly results.
7. Know your Quaker. Choose toys with your Quaker’s personality in mind. A bird who was a kamikaze pilot in his first life should not be given hanging toys! Chewers should be given natural bark or pine toys, climbers like to play on ladders and longer hanging toys, acrobats love hanging rings and pack rats love toys they can carry.
8. Look around your home. Every home has a few good Quaker toys that were not initially intended as Quaker toys. Paper towel rolls make excellent chewing material, and plain wooden clothespins can provide hours of enjoyment. A plastic can lid, some cotton cord, and a few pieces of scrap wood make an excellent hanging toy for your Quaker to chew on. A simple strip of toilet paper hung from the inside top of our Quaker’s cage keeps him entertained for hours! I do not recommend the use of discarded cardboard toilet tissue rolls as toys—these have a great potential to be germ-laden and generally not a good choice.
9. Use your common sense. Know your Quaker, examine the toys, supervise play time and all should be well.
Combining toys with treats has proved to be a winning combination and is favored by many Quakers, as well as being another prime example of environmental enrichment. Toys that include treats can be just as interesting to your Quaker as those that don’t. Rather than simply put all the food in a bowl and toss it into the cage, focus your enrichment efforts on novel ways to present your Quaker with food. Some ideas include drilling holes in plastic balls and stuffing them with a variety of treats. Your Quaker must then roll and manipulate the ball in order to extract some delicacy, such as raisins, peanut butter, or nuts.
In one avian exhibit, keepers at the Wood lawn Park Zoo hang clusters of grapes with a sturdy black ling of branches in t he cage, encouraging the birds to pull the line up little by little with their beaks until the cluster is within their grasp. Other methods include stringing popcorn, grapes, or peanuts on a heavy black thread or stuffing pine cones with peanut butter and seeds. Rolled oat cereal strung on a leather thong will occupy my Quaker for hours. Take some time to experiment with your pet Quaker, and find out what he likes. Individual birds often react differently to enrichment techniques, and what works for one bird may not work for another.