Sound-related toys make, enhance or facilitate sounds, which appeals to the cockatiel’s instinct to communicate. Bells are unquestionably the most common and easily accessible of these. Stainless-steel or nickel-plated "liberty” bells are now especially designed for safe cockatiel play and come with large, one-piece clappers that are usually dropped to the floor when removed by the cockatiel. Some people prefer to remove clappers before presenting the bells to the cockatiel. In either event, clappers generally do not linger long, which will render the bell silent. Place bells in pairs so that they clank together when the cockatiel plays with them, or beside other hard elements to facilitate continued sound production.
I prefer small, stainless-steel or nickel-plated pipe bells that are designed for safety. The clapper can be removed but not easily swallowed. Cylindrical bird-proof pipe bells are designed to ensure that your cockatiel can’t remove the clappers. Most pipe bells are vacuum or powder coated, and both finishes may chip, leaving exposed metal that can rust. Watch out for too-small bells that might get stuck on your cockatiel’s beak, especially if the bell is soft enough to dent.
Hard elements located beside a bell are more likely to stimulate repeated long-term cockatiel play, because they also produce enticing sounds. Plastic pipe bells, rattles and clackers include hard-plastic beads and/or elements designed to produce sound when the toy moves. If you are sensitive to the ringing of metal bells, these may be a reasonable alternative, as their sounds are generally less loud and just as enticing to most cockatiels.
Cockatiels, as well as grass parakeets, can be fascinated not with a bell’s ringing properties, but rather with the way sounds resonate when made directly into it. A cockatiel might like to sleep or nap with his head in the bell, pulled down over the eyes. Toys with resonating properties are easily constructed from plastic, paper or metal cups and are just now finding their way in the bird-toy marketplace. Click here for more information about other types of toys for your cockatiel, or visit BirdChannel’s Bird Toy Resource Center.
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Excerpt from the Popular Birds Series magabook Cockatiels with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Cockatiels here.