Best Toys For Cockatiels

Cockatiels, like most pet birds are very curious by nature. Not only do they need some physical exercise to keep them healthy they also need mental activity.  The way to achieve mental stimulation is

best toy for cockatiel
best toy for cockatiel

through interaction with them.  If you don’t have a lot of time to interact with your cockatiel you can keep his mind active with the help of toys.  The best toys for cockatiels are toys that will help to stimulate them mentally.

Toys To Avoid

When buying toys for your cockatiel it is imperative that you make sure the toys are safe.  Some materials are toxic making them very harmful to your bird.  You can never be too careful.  I knew a woman who had a small parrot and he was picking at the buttons on her PJ’s.  She thought that it was kinda cute so she did not stop him.  The next morning he was dead.  The buttons were made from zinc and then covered with fabric – very toxic to the bird.

When I started doing research on what toys to avoid buying because of safety issues I was in for a shock.  There are so many things to be aware of when choosing toys for our cockatiels or any bird for that matter.

Toy Material To Avoid

Toys made from certain materials and woods are just not safe for your bird.  Here is a partial list of some of the woods to avoid:

  • Cedar
  • Red Cherry
  • Plywood
  • Oak
  • Pressured Treated Wood
  • Wood not exposed to pesticides
  • Box Elder
  • Chinese Popcorn
  • Chinese Tallow
  • Hemlock
  • Sumac
  • Prunus trees* – these include apricot, cherry, peach,prune, plum, nectarine

* The Prunus trees contain cyanogenic glycosides which release cyanide if ingested which makes these woods very dangerous to your bird.

Make sure that if you are making toys for your pet bird that the wood is safe. If you have picked wood that is not toxic to your bird make sure that it has not been treated with pesticides and finally it is best to wash the wood with a non toxic disinfectant then rinse well and dry.  You can dry the wood in the oven at about 250 F for approximately an hour.  This should kill any bugs, fungi etc that could possibly be in the wood.

Wood That Is Safe

Following are some of the woods that are safe to use to make your own bird toys.  Note this list is not complete so it is best to research the wood you have before using it if it is not on this list.  Also even if the wood is safe it should be washed as described above.  Here are some safe woods to use:

  • Pine
  • Balsa
  • Birch
  • Basswood
  • Poplar
  • Maple
  • Walnut
  • Ash
  • Apple
  • Elm
  • Cactus
  • Manzanita


If you are gathering your own wood for bird toys make sure the wood does not come from areas where toxic emissions can be absorbed.  These areas would be near a highway or road where there is a high volume of traffic.  The emissions from the vehicles can be toxic and they can be absorbed into the wood.

So you have decided that maybe just buying your bird some toys would be a lot easier.  You still need to be aware of safety issues when buying bird toys.

Rope toys for the most part are a safe toy for your bird.  Make sure the rope is made of all natural fibers such as hemp, cotton or sisal.  Also keep an eye on the toy, if you spot any fraying of the rope be sure to trim it back.  A bird can easily choke on fraying rope as well as get tangled up in the fraying rope.  For your bird’s safety check the rope toys daily and discard once they are beyond repair.

Many bird toys use chains to hang the toy in the cage.  Chains can present a hazard.  A chain that is too long can actually end up wrapped around your bird’s neck and end up doing considerable damage if not causing death.  Also make sure the links are a size that will not allow your bird to get his foot or nail caught.


Some toys have wooden components attached to a chain, as the bird destroys the wooden parts make sure you adjust the chain for safety reasons.  When all the wooden parts are gone dispose of the chain.

Did you know that birds can tell different colours apart?  Some will actually develop a favourite colour.  Therefore manufacturers will make coloured wooden toys which your bird will be attracted to.

Caveat:  Make sure toy is not coloured by staining or varnishing.  Only buy toys painted with non toxic child safe paint.  Toys coloured with food colouring or vegetables dyes are also safe for your bird.

Also it is not a good idea to buy wooden toys that are flavoured.  We want our bird to chew the wood, we do not want him to eat the wood.

What do you use to fasten your cockatiels toys in the cage?  The safest fasteners you can use in your cockatiel’s cage are quick-links also referred to as C-clamps or pear links.  These fasteners can be purchased at your local hardware store.  They do come in a variety of sizes so make sure you get the one that best suits your needs.


Birds have cut toes and tongues when their human caretakers have used split key rings and spring loaded clips in their cages.  So please use the quick-links or pear links for your bird’s cage.

One of the safest material that bird toys are made from is acrylic.  When purchasing a toy made from this type of plastic make sure that it is at least 3/16 inches thick.  The size of your bird will dictate what plastic toy you should purchase.  A large bird can often break brittle acrylic so this would not be a safe toy for him as the broken pieces can have sharp edges which could injure your bird.

For birds that like to chew acrylic toys are just not as fun but they do like the colour.  Mixing the plastic with the wooden can be just what your bird wants.  The colour of the plastic will attract him and the wooden part will satisfy his need to chew.

Another material that is safe for your cockatiel to play with is leather.  Make sure to use only vegetable tanned leather.  Do not leave long pieces of leather between the cage and the toy as this could present a risk to your bird.  Also if the leather does get wet and dirty it is best to replace it.  Bacteria that could be harmful to your bird will flourish if the leather becomes wet and dirty.

Bells are another thing that attracts your bird.  Cockatiels and other birds love to make noise and bells provide that type of entertainment.  Some birds are quite clever so make sure that the clapper in the bell can not be removed.  It could present a choking hazard for your bird.  Avoid toys that use jingle bells as the openings in them can be a hazard to your bird’s toes.


When purchasing toys for your bird make sure it is a safe toy for the bird you have.  A safe toy for a cockatiel or budgie may not be safe for a large parrot or macaw.

Always read the label to make sure you know what the toy is made of.

Watch how your bird interacts with the toy.  If he is really going at a rope toy you may need to be vigilant about cutting away fraying ends.

If you have wooden toys that have somehow gotten wet and dirty you are best to wipe off the dirt and the dry them in an oven at low temperature.  This will help kill any bacterial growth.

Do not stuff your cockatiel’s cage with lots of toys.  You are better to have two or three toys in the cage then rotate the other toys in and out of the cage.  This will help your bird from becoming bored.

I hope you found this informative and have fun with your cockatiel!

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    • Scott
    • February 25, 2017

    My family has been talking about getting a pair of birds for a while now. We have not really understood how to care for them properly. I never thought about what could be toxic to them. Your page has helped us understand a great deal on how to raise our own birds. This will be a good experience for our children. What kinds of food should we use and are many of them toxic?

      • Maureen
      • February 26, 2017

      Many people recommend that you feed your cockatiel a pelleted diet. As seeds are high in fat, an all seed diet is not recommended. You can use seeds as a treat but make sure you do not give him too many. Other foods that can be toxic to your bird are Avocado, Chocolate, Any Fruit Seeds, Onions, Garlic, Alcohol, Mushrooms, Honey, Salt, Caffeine, Dried or Uncooked Beans, Rhubarb, High-Fat, High-Sodium, High-Sugar Foods. The actual fruit like apple is OK for your bird but the seeds do contain cyanide.

      Pasta also is OK but without the sauce, butter or salt on it. They also like sweet potato, yams and pumpkin much better when they are cooked.

    • Jen
    • February 26, 2017

    My aunt use to have 2 cockatiels! I used to love those birds so much. Cockatiels are so fun to listen to and really just watch. She used to make them their own (safe) toys as well… they sure enjoyed them too. Great informative article, thanks for sharing! Good read.

      • Maureen
      • February 26, 2017

      Hi Jen Thanks for the comments. I have taken a stab at making some toys for my little guy. I use mostly paper holders from toilet paper and paper towels. Boxes on their side are also one of his favourites. He loves climbing in them. He loves ripping things apart so these things are right up his alley.

    • Jeannie Brickley
    • February 26, 2017

    I enjoyed reading your post on the best toys for cockatiels. I think it will be beneficial to cockatiel owners and those who are thinking of purchasing. I have a parakeet named Tweety that I inherited from my mother when she died. He is a character. He likes mirrors and the cardboard pictures of parakeets I cut from his food boxes. He likes to pick on paper. I used to worry about it because he may be eating some of it but it seems to be ok. He likes to sit on my hand and have me talk or sing very close to his beak. He gives me kisses on my nose. He and my baby granddaughter have a love affair going. I have a picture of him sitting on her head. Lol.

      • Maureen
      • February 26, 2017

      Thanks for your comments Jeannie. Birds are quite entertaining and very good companions. My cockatiel, Binky, loves ripping paper apart and he loves picking off paper labels from glass jars. My guy loves looking at himself in the mirror also and making all sorts of funny noises. He just can’t get enough of himself.

      They are a highly intelligent bird. It sounds like Tweety ended up in a good spot after his owner passed. Not all do. Glad you took him in and are giving him a loving and caring home.

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