For years I’ve had play gyms for my birds. I like the concept of my birds being out of their “roosts” during the day when I am home to supervise them. I’ll explain why further down in the post.
Now, just to set the record straight, I don’t do any “willy-nilly endorsing.” If I like something, I often write about it. I do not get paid to endorse anything.
But I happen to favor the Wayne’s Parrot Stuff Play Gyms because they’re sturdy as hell and last for years. I got Parker one about eight years ago and other than replacing the top perch frame once or twice, it’s still in great shape. And because I have three birds, I have three of these stands.
I happen to like bottle brush for my birds because they chew the tar out of it and seem to have fun on their play gyms. But there’s more to it than that.
Birds are not built to stay in one place all day. They are built to explore and forage. Their natural instinct is to wake up in their roost at daylight and head out to forage all day. Parrots will travel for miles looking for food, finding water holes and places to bathe. Wild Parrots spend 50-70% of their day in the wild foraging for food. When they return to the safety of their roost, they have a place where they can rest, relax and enjoy the safety it provides them. But they don’t stay in them all day or they would starve.
Parker and Pepper’s play stands have castors and can be rolled anywhere.
Parrots are busy, curious and playful beings and giving them opportunities to see the world from a different perspective and the relative autonomy of a free standing set of perches is highly enriching. They can see all around them and it’s more like the structure of a tree than their cage is. I think play gyms are not only necessary, they are crucial.
If you set them up right, they can play on them, rest, eat, drink and even get in that little”splash bath” in their bowls. (A little under the wings, throw a bit on the back; ahhh!) My birds do all of that on their play gyms and more.
I have toys attached to their gyms which they enjoy playing with. I can not only rotate their gym toys, I can rotate the birds from gym to gym which gives them a new set of toys to play with, it gives them a new perspective. The gyms are also on wheels which gives me the freedom rolling the stands outside so my Greys can sit out in the sun on the screened-in porch. They are easy to clean, sturdy and fun to chew on. These stands are made of bottlebrush wood: wood that’s soft on the outside and gets harder as they chew into the heart of the wood.
Bottlebrush is a safe wood and has an uneven and “bark-y” texture which is great for their feet. They do well on it due to the fact that the surface isn’t slippery. The diameters of the branches are different as well which is also a plus.
This is what a bottlebrush tree looks like. Luckily they are all over Florida. I have been known to forage for replacement branches after a hurricane:
The interesting aspect of bottlebrush wood is the fact that it is indeed softer on the outside and gets hard as you move toward the center. This gets your little chewers gnawing away at it and the job gets more challenging as they chew into the heart of the matter, so to speak. Here’s a cross-section:
You can see more bottlebrush shots here: Lumberjocks!
Now where can you get these wonderful stands? Okay, here’s the deal: Due to some sort of weirdness, Wayne Gagne no longer manufactures the stands. They are manufactured and distributed by Richard Horvitz of the Golden Cockatoo. Richard also changed the design of the stands. They are still made of bottlebrush, but the metal strip around the side of the platform has been replaced by wood molding, which I suppose is fine, but I personally prefer the metal strip. I’ve discovered that once you purchase the stand, you can also get replacement perches for the top which in the long run will save you big bucks. Buy the replacement perch, remove the chewed up old one and install the new perch with fresh branches.
You can also customize it by adding stainless steel eye hooks and mounting more toys if you like. And that’s exactly what I did. I also added a screw to hang a broom and dustpan from the post:
They are also very easy to clean. I just lift mine into the tub and after showering them for a few minutes, letting them soak for a while, I can scrub poop and food off with a scrubber, rinse and then let them dry in the sun.
If you don’t already have a play stand for your parrot or bird, I highly recommend you get one. It greatly enriches the lives of your birds. You can get one at the Golden Cockatoo in Deerfield Beach, Florida by going to their website or by calling toll-free at: 1-877-775-BIRD.
Marc Johnson of Foster Parrots has sent along some photos of a few perches he made for his flock, many of whom are up for adoption. These hanging gyms are made of pvc pipe with real branches placed through the joints and screwed into place.
Marc Commented: “The brown stuff is created by scorching with a blow torch in a WELL Ventilated place far from any living creature! We don’t do it anymore but it adds a nice natural look to the pvc… if that is possible? The branches are attached by screws through the pvc to keep them from falling out or moving and then catching toes etc…. They are attached to the ceiling by swivel hardware on an eye hook. No platforms to get messy!”
I’m sure it would be quite easy to tie enrichment items to them or gussy them up with some stainless steel eye hooks to add toys as well.