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Get The Ultimate Bird Playgym

When it comes to designing your bird's playgym, the sky's the limit.

Susan Chamberlain

Birds need to spend time away from their cages. A bird stand can provide a place for your bird to hang out and have fun outside her cage. 

Who among us hasn’t envisioned the ultimate playgym for our pet birds? While porches and lanais may lend themselves to elaborately constructed avian arbors, most of have to deal with indoor space, and this is where creativity counts. Homemade, almost homemade or store bought and customized, there are so many ways you can make your bird’s stand one of a kind!

Diane Hyde of New York purchased a playgym for Cody, her quaker parakeet, at a local bird shop. "It’s a standard gym, made from Manzanita branches attached to a Formica base,” Hyde said. "I customized it by hanging loads of toys from the branches and placing a smaller stand with food and water dishes on the base of the manzanita stand.”

Ginger Duplisse of Arizona and her husband began building their birds’ stands due to budgetary concerns. "Because each bird has two stands, one in my office for the morning and one in the living room for the evening, costs began to add up. I’ve saved lots of money by building and customizing my own stands, so I have more to spend on toys, treats and other bird accessories,” Duplisse said. The couple purchased Manzanita branches from a company in California, screwed them together in desired formations, fabricated the bases, and then attached the branches to them. They fastened stainless-steel coop cups or Lixit Quick Lock Crocks to the branches to hold food and foot toys.

yellow-collared macaw

Think of your bird's playgym as a blank canvas. Be as creative as you want in your design (and be safe, too!).

When one of their African greys needed firmer footing, Duplisse used Vetrap Bandaging Tape to wrap around the Manzanita branches. "It even stands up through a couple of power washings before you need to replace it,” Duplisse said. "You can order Vetrap online through vet supply stores. We’re fortunate enough to live in rural area with a Walmart that carries the product.”

O.J., her Senegal, enjoys a store-bought Manzanita playstand fastened to a second Manzanita branch that has been attached to a cage-top style gym atop a repurposed, pre-fabricated cabinet from Lowe’s. Both are on casters for easy movement, and O.J. has plenty of room to roam about and play with the many toys attached to his out-of-the-cage habitat. There’s even a ladder leading down to an open drawer that is full of toys that O.J loves to toss around. "He’s a busy, busy bird and requires a lot of things to do, so this suits the purpose!” Duplisse said.

Senegal parrot Lolly uses a store-bought tree that is enhanced with swings and a ladder. "It gives him many more things to play on that way,” Duplisse explained. 

Ozzy, one of Duplisse’s African grey parrots, spends quality time on a unique homemade gym. Duplisse attached a simple, counter-height wooden stool to a wood base on casters that is covered with peel-and-stick tiles. A Manzanita climbing tree rises from the center of the stool, and a series of rope accessories and toys provide endless hours of playtime for Ozzy. A rope spiral hung from the ceiling is attached to the stand. Duplisse occasionally changes it out with a 4-by 8-foot cotton rope climbing net she made herself. An elaborate rope-and-wood toy hangs from the ceiling for even more fun. "The stool was inexpensive and also gave me the height I wanted. They come in different heights to suit different needs.”

Duplisse gets numerous comments on the bird gyms in her house. The top three are: "You spoil your birds,” "I wish I could do something like that!” and "What happened to your furniture?”

"Anyone can build a stand if they put some time and thought into it,” Duplisse said. 

Bird Playstand Rules To Live By
1) Never leave birds unsupervised on playgyms.

2) Make sure stands do not tip or sway under the weight of birds and toys.

3) Make sure toys and parts are safe and are of an appropriate size for your bird.

4) Avoid small, easily detached hardware that a bird could swallow. Remove or trim frayed rope toys to avoid trapping toes. Use stainless-steel screws, eye hooks and other hardware. Duplisse uses a counter-sink drill bit to embed screws in the wood, making them less accessible to the birds.

5) If using natural branches you’ve collected yourself, make sure they’re from bird-safe trees, such as ash, aspen, manzanita, elm, dogwood, willow, and from trees that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. Avoid branches collected from the side of a road, as they may have absorbed chemicals from exhaust fumes. (Click here for a list of safe and unsafe plants.) Scrub branches thoroughly to remove mold, insect residue and other deposits. Allow them to dry completely before offering them to your bird.

Love this article? Then check out these:

How To Create A Safe Playgym
How Does Your Pet Bird Like To Play?

8 Games To Play With Your Bird

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Posted: May 7, 2014, 5:00 p.m. PDT

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