Friday, July 24, 2009

Making a Birdie Toy

It has been a while since I actually put together a craft, so I decided to get back to crafting. I've been thinking about making a toy for my little pet parakeets. Since I posted about Sunny and Sugar, my Lutino and Albino, I have gained another parakeet to keep them company. I purchased a very young one, and I named it Sassy.
Since I have the three birds, I've been hanging out at the Talk Budgies forum to learn more about my keets. They have some very knowledgeable members there and I've found out many things I didn't know about my babies.
The main thing I learned is that my Sunny and Sugar are likely females and Sassy is a young male. Just the opposite from what I have been thinking lately. I guess only time will tell. Maybe I will know for sure if two of them decide to mate or one decides to lay an egg.

I saw a bird toy at a pet store that was made of craft sticks of different colors and beads. I was thinking why would I buy that when I have everything to make it at home in my craft room.
That was about a week ago. Today, I decided to give it a go.

EDIT: 7/25/09
For anyone thinking of making this toy for your pet, I feel I need to point out safety..... always put the safety of your pet first!
1. If you are in any doubt about any product for you pet, do not use it!!
2. Always use common sense and never, ever, let your pets have any toy that might be a safety hazard such as possible tangling, choking, or anything that might be toxic or may cause other bodily harm. Make sure if you tie knots, that your knots are very secure. Keep an eye on your pet's toys. If the toy becomes damaged to the point of being a hazard, remove the toy and discard it.
3. While I do not believe the US FDA approved food coloring is harmful as a toy coloring, if you have any doubts about using food coloring in the US or your country, do not use it. This same toy can be made from uncolored wood sticks. I do not have a source for uncolored wood beads but I am sure they are out there, probably in craft stores.
As I said previously, use a lot of common sense!

(The photos are clickable to enlarge.)

This is what I made and it took less than an hour of actual hands on time. It is very easy to make and all of the supplies can be found easily in most any craft department.

I used Popsicle sticks (I saved from real Popsicles to recycle), washed and rinsed. I boiled the sticks and added some food coloring to the water. I only used a cup or two of water and part of a bottle of blue and also mixed in about half a bottle of green food coloring. Since this was a try as you go and see how it turns out, I did not measure. I just guessed as I went along. After letting the sticks soak up the dye and stirring them around quite a bit, for about 5 minutes or so, I took them out into the sink. I rinsed them several times with cold water until the water was clear. I then put them on a couple layers of paper towels and patted the excess water from them. They did still stain the towels a bit but after placing them on clean paper towels and letting them dry overnight, there was no stain from handling them.

Today, I gathered my supplies:
A plastic ring to attach to the top.
Jute Twine - about 24 inches for this one.

My collection of Pony Beads - any color and number, depending on the length of the toy.

Crop-A-Dile Eyelet & Snap Punch - to punch the holes through the craft sticks. This is one of my favorite toys. A drill with a small drill bit, could be used instead.

I used 12 sticks - dyed and punched.

Making the toy was really easy. First I wrapped one end of the jute twine with clear tape to make it slide through the sticks and beads easily. This is what it looks like. After finishing, this tape can either be pulled off or cut off.

I tied a double knot near the other end leaving a short "tail". Added a small bead, one that will not slip over the knot, then tied again above that bead and added a larger bead that I think will catch my bird's eye. This is the bottom of the toy, I worked from bottom to the top.

I alternated a bead and a craft stick until I used up the sticks, then added a few more beads at the top for detail. I tied a plastic ring to the top (recycled from a package of blank CD's). After taking this photo, I found a clip and attached the ring to the top of my birdie cage.

The birdies can chew on the sticks, swing it around and just have fun with it. Before long they will probably be climbing it.
My trio are looking it over really good now as I have just hung it in their house. I think they are trying to decide which bead is the prettiest or which stick they will chew first.


Anonymous said...

making toys is usually very inexpensive, and you'll have full control over the safety of your masterpieces.

Anonymous said...

cool, thanks, Ill have to make pearl one of these.

Anonymous said...


Feel free to delete my comment....
It's a great idea! There's just a couple of things that should be altered on this toy.
I raise parrots, and I've been a bird handler for 30 years.
1. The loop you have at the top is a possible noose. It's better to tie on a single strand and make sure it is done so that their toes cannot get caught in it.

2. Jute is sometimes coated with toxic petroleum. I learned that the hard way. You can get 100% cotton string used for dressing meat at a kitchen store, or 100% cottom lace... no plastic at the ends... I use vegetable tanned...
leather lace... available at leather stores. They often give me there scraps that you can string together and make toys with.
Just make sure it's vegetable tanned.
The food coloring is pretty, but the look is just for the owner. It does leach out if they get it wet,
That can't be healthy. I just give them the natural wood.
Just my input...

... from a fellow bird lover.

Joy said...

While I appreciate your concern, let me assure you that the toy I made is not harmful to my babies. I did some research and asked questions on the budgie forum concerning the food dye. Although, it might cause some staining if the birds really chew on the stick a lot, it will not hurt them. I'm sure it will not stain them any more than some of the carrots and mineral blocks they already enjoy.
I do agree that all natural things are best for the birds. I'm thinking that I should also make a natural toy with the craft sticks. Parakeets love to chew on wood. As for the hemp, it is 100% natural hemp and does not have a coating of any kind. As for the loop you are talking about, That was mainly to hang it by to to photo shoot it and I had already replaced it with a clip. There is only a single thread of hemp used, not double. The clip and plastic ring I used are safe no danger to my birds. While I understand that nothing is 100% guaranteed to be safe, I am satisfied that this toy is as safe as the commercial ones. Do not worry. I do not make any crafts for sale.
Again, thank you for being concerned for all little feathered friends.

SassySue said...

I think your toy is just Fantastic. I have a parrot and I can see nothing wrong with the way it is made. I know they will love it and Boy, do they all love to chew on wood. I have not bought any toys as I worry more about the paint that China uses and most toys come from there. I put food coloring for the hummingbirds and it sure doesn't hurt them. I have 3 feeders going that I can't keep filled. Your birds are beautiful and let us know how they chew and have fun on their new toy. So glad you shared it with us. I'm just sorry that some people have to claim to be such a professional and can't just leave a nice comment.

Sue said...

I think you made a good job!
Great tutorial!
Do you have any ideas for cat toys? We just got a cat and I would like to make him a toy or two. TIA.

Doreen said...

Oh how original and how clever to make it yourself! My only concern would have been the dye too but as you said you did your research well so you know what you're doing...I am sure you would not make anything that will be a hazard to your birds and sometimes the things we make are safer than store bought ones : )
I love recycling and enjoy your ideas.

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Joy said...

Thanks to all of you who have responded favorably to my birdie toy.

Crafty Sue, I haven't owned a cat for many years so I don't know of a specific craft for a kitty but I think you could make your kitty most any string toy that wiggles and/or jingles. Just be careful that it would not have any loops large enough to get his paws caught in, or use anything that would be toxic to your kitty. I know you already know this. I am always careful about safety when I am placing anything in my birdies cage. By the way, I'm sure your cat would love to play with my birdies but no, I don't allow my babies to play with cats.

Sue said...

Thank you Joy for your reply.
I quite agree with you... you surely must not allow your babies to play with cats LOL.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for clarifying.

My main concern was the double strand. But you say, the actual toy is made with a single strand.
I keep a large number of birds, so over the year I have seen it all.
One time I bought jute at the hardware store, and unbeknownst to me, it been treated with a petroleum based product making it toxic! So, it's important that readers can make sure they get something that's not treated.
I didn't mean to step on any toes here. Just look out for our feathered friends, as always.
I'm relatively new to the blogging world, and very much enjoy your site. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

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Pam said...

Cute idea for the feathered friends. My brother has a bird and my sister in law has her bird. Their condo's (the birds) are full of toys but I bet they would love a hand made one like this! Thanks for sharing.

Amber said...

Very cute! No birdies here, just kittens. Maybe they would like a variation of this?? I hvae to see what I can come up with. Great job!!!

Doreen said...

Hi it's me again...come by my blog, I have an award for you : )

Bleeding Heart said...

That is so creative! I am amazed when I see others creativity!

Christie said...

Very cool. The pattern of the twine spool itself looks like a piece of art. :D



Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

How neat!!!

Anonymous said...

I love the birdie toy! I wish I was crafty or artistic just a little bit. lol

Daisy Soap Girl said...

Blog walking today and thought I'd stop by for a visit.