Our flock use the softees as preening toys and we use the toys to redirect the birds focus when feather destructive behaviors are displayed.
What You Need:
- Cotton fabric. Flannel or fleece are a good choices. We use the remnants from odd lot sale bins at fabric stores.
- Scissors, or cutting wheel. Our preference is the cutting wheel and a straight edge, much faster than using scissors.
- Cutting board, or another safe surface to cut fabric on.
- Marbella plastic shape (e.g., square, ring) as base for toy. We purchase our shapes from bulk toy-making parts suppliers available locally and online.
- Carabineer, quick link, or cable tie to fasten toy to cage. Carabineers allow the toys to swing and sway from the top of the cage or a playstand. Cable ties attach the toy solidly to the side of the cage or on a playstand.
Layout the fabric on the cutting board, hold the straight edge firmly on top of the fabric and run the cutting wheel down the fabric.
We use one-half to one-inch wide swaths of fabric, depending on the size of the parrot we will give the toy to. Cut the swaths into six to eight–inch long strips.
Tie the strips with a simple knot on the marbella plastic shape, making a “wreath” looking toy. If you are giving the toy to a cockatoo, you may want to use longer strips and try different types of knots – square, half-hitch, constrictor, bundtline hitch, etc.
Variations to the basic toy:
- Intersperse vegetable dyed leather strips with the fabric
- Intersperse sisal, manila, or 100 percent cotton rope with the fabric
Our smaller cockatoos love to untie intricate knots. Our larger cockatoos simply bite through the knots. Either way, our cockatoos, macaws and African grays love playing with the different textures; and they trade off softee pieces with one another.
Ann Taylor has worked with companion birds for over 13 years, starting with a blue-fronted Amazon and now having six cockatoos, three macaws and two African grays. Ann is past Membership Chair of The Alaska Bird Club (2006), and you can reach Ann at: email@example.com.
Gregory D. Wilkie is a degreed ethologist, an associate member of the International Association of Animal Behavioral Consultants (IAABC), past-President of The Alaska Bird Club (2006), and works full-time changing organizational cultures. You can reach Greg at: firstname.lastname@example.org