Reader Submission! Paper mache Star Forager
This is Jude, and Jude’s beloved male eclectus, Paco:
Jude was kind enough to send me our first ‘reader submission” foraging idea. And it’s a great one! Even though a male eclectus is our ‘model’ here, this is a fantastic foraging toy for small and very small birds, such as budgies and cockatiels.
Here’s Paco with the toy. Instructions below.
Jude explained to me in email that she bought a papier mache star at a craft store (Michael’s , for 99 cents!), very cheaply. She turned it into a foraging toy using the following instructions:
1.) With x-acto knife or other cutting tool, make holes (slits) in the paper mache form.
2.) Insert seeds or treats into holes (she used sunflower seeds and corn kernels, which were very popular with my little Princess Parrot, Leo)
It is important to make sure that the holes are not too close together, and that they are the right size for whatever you are loading them with. You want the seed or treat to be snuggly seated in the hole, and you don’t want the paper mache to be crushed by putting them too close together.
Also, it can get hard on the finger tips, so a thimble or other pushing tool can be used to push the seeds in. The deeper they are pushed, and the smaller the holes, the more difficult the toy is for the bird to retrieve the treat. Use your own bird’s skill interest level to decide how tough to make the toy. Pellets would also work well in this toy, and make it healthier. Here’s Jude’s photo of the toy making in progress:
Even when the seeds are very snug in the holes, it is still a great toy for my handicapped parrot, Leo. He is a bit simple, too, so can’t do complex foraging tasks, but he took to this one like a duck to water. (Pics to follow!)
If you can’t find the paper mache stars, and you want a very easy toy for a beginning forager, you can use a piece of cardboard or a cardboard roll. The paper mache works better to make it a little more difficult, because the thickness holds the treats in well.
I found a similar star to Jude’s online, that would also work well:
Thanks so much Jude, for the submission! Anyone else have any great ideas?
Difficulty for humans to make: easy
Difficulty for parrots to use: easy to medium, depending on parrot,depth/width of holes, and choice of treats