One thing that is interesting about parrots is that all of them, regardless of their size, love chewing on wood. With this in mind, it is very important to choose the wood that is safe for parrots. Parrots have the tendency to chew and destroy their stands and toys, especially the wooden ones. Parrots usually have an instinctual need to chew. Wooden bird perches and toys satisfy the birds’ chomping and gnawing needs. These actions will further exercise their jaws, further trimming their beaks, and giving them the comfort that they need.
When it comes to picking items for your birds, it is important to know your woods well. Just like all other types of bird toys, wooden ones come in different sizes, with densities that are especially recommended according to the size of your parrot. For example, a smaller parrot requires smaller and softer types of wood so as to gain both the physical and emotional benefits of wooden bird toys. At the same time, bigger parrots with more powerful jaws will also benefit from bigger wood pieces that are made out of denser woods.
When purchasing wooden toys and other accessories for your bird, it is important to do so from reputable manufacturers, as well as other experienced bird supply stores. Even woods that are considered as bird safe which have been made for products aside from bird toys may have also been treated with chemicals or preservatives. If you are doing a DIY project for your own bird toys, keep in mind that not all types of woods are safe for your parrots. Before listing down the safe wood for toys and perches, it is worthy to note the ones that should be avoided at all costs. This includes red cherry, cedar, oak, plywood, as well as pressure-treated woods.
Safe Wood Types
Not all types of wood are safe, so it is emphasized. This is because certain types of woods have toxic properties. You can stay safe by selecting woods which have already been tested and proven as safe by actual bird owners. Keep in mind, however, that if you cut your own wooden branches, they may be filled with bugs. To avoid this, some suggestions include baking a freshly cut wood perch inside a 250-degree oven for about a couple of hours in order to remove some unwanted pests.
· Pine Wood
Application: Since pine wood is a relatively soft wood type, especially when cut across its grain, it is a recommended choice for making medium-sized bird toys.
· Balsa Wood
Application: This type of wood is extremely soft, which is why it is ideal for making small bird toys.
· Birch Wood
Density: +/- 42
Birchwood is a moderately soft type of wood that is fit for making small to medium bird toys. The bark and leaves of this wood contain salicylates and other substances that come with hemolytic properties. The low concentration of these salicylates makes it unlikely to cause toxicity among birds. Birchwood is also used for items such as Popsicle sticks and toys. Removing the bark of this wood will eliminate exposure to salicylates. The branches of this wood are considered as safe for making natural wood toys and perches.
Application: Basswood is moderately soft, excellent for making small to medium bird toys.
· Poplar Wood
Application: Poplar Wood is a moderately soft type of wood that is great for making small to medium bird toys.
· Maple Wood
Application: Maple wood is a moderately soft type of wood that is perfect for making medium to bigger bird toys.
· Walnut Wood
Application: Walnut wood is a moderately soft type of wood that is recommended for making medium to larger bird toys.
· Ash Wood
Application: Ash wood is a moderately soft wood that is perfect for making medium to larger bird toys.
· Apple Wood
Application: Apple wood is another safe option for bird toys, being a moderately soft wood that is perfect for medium to larger bird toys.
· Elm Wood
Application: Elm Wood is a moderately soft wood that is ideal for making small to larger bird toys.
· Cactus (Cholla) Wood
Application: This wood is very soft and comes with cavities that are ideal for making smaller bird toys and bird perches.
· Manzanita Wood
Manzanita is a hardwood that is best for making larger bird toys and bird perches.
· Hazel Wood
Application: Hazel wood is classified as hard wood. As it is frequently used in making poles and other uses, it is also noted as a safe wood companion for birds. As such, it offers immense importance to wildlife because of its edible fruits and leaves.
There may be some wood types that are not included in this list. If you are a beginner, it may be best to choose a safe option. However, if you are into some serious bird care, you may want to make your own analysis of the best types of wood that are also considered safe for your parrots.
Other Items to Consider
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If you are sourcing your very own ‘wild’ wood, it is important to stay safe and avoid any wood which may be toxic. It is often safe to choosing native tree species, primarily because not all types of ornamental woods have already been tried and tested in making parrot cages and other accessories.
Other woods are mostly safe to use, but when it comes to your pets, it is not safe to risk anything. Note that most perches that are bought in shops these days are made out of untreated pine. This is good and is recommended to avoid fresh pine, as it has sticky resin.
When it comes to choosing wood, keep in mind that any pesticide residue can easily render wood previously declared as safe as toxic. As such, avoid wood that uses pesticide residue, even after the bark is removed. Pesticides can easily penetrate into the wood through the bark. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, dormant spray, fungicides as well as miticides.
Also, pressure-treated wood is toxic to birds. Avoid choosing wood from trees that grow in the side of a railroad or highway because they are most likely treated with herbicides. Even trees that are non-toxic may also be infected by bacteria or fungi that produce toxins.
Avoid using any part of stone fruit trees, including cherry, apricot, nectarine, plum, or peach, as they contain cyanogenic glycosides that may release cyanide when ingested by your pet. Redwood, on the other hand, also contains high levels of so-called volatile oils, which are also known toxins. Exposure to these substances can cause rashes, while the dust can also cause some eye and lung disorders. Prolonged exposure may suppress the pet’s immune system. If you are planning to use wood that you are not familiar with, it is recommended to take a small branch as a sample to your local nursery, and they will help you identify it. While they may not be able to give you details regarding the toxicity of the wood, at least you know what it is and continue your search from valid sources.