I'm not saying don't ever give your parrot a box, but be observant when you do. If your bird seems to REALLY like the box; spends an unusual amount of time chewing on the box; fluffs up when another parrot or you come near the box; crawls inside the box and stays; then these are all indications that the box is probably triggering nesting activity.
I still give my parrots boxes as enrichment items. But the boxes I give them are like the Beer Carrier Foraging Toy Box shown on the Foraging Toys page. Or like the examples shown below.
A band saw can cut phone books to hang in the cage or on a playstand. Don't have a band saw? Drill a hole in a paper back book or put paper back books on a platform perch.
I make use of left over wrapping paper to make present boxes filled with shredded paper, foot toys and a small treat. I put them out in obvious places for my birds to find and tear into. This narrow shirt box is one Zorba can not crawl into and it isn't on the bottom of his cage. I take it away after play time so he doesn't have time for getting to know and really like his box.
Acrylic Adding Machine Paper Holder Available at Busy Beaks
Adding Machine Tape Dispenser
We know birds love chewing up paper. Adding machine rolls are a favorite. It's fun to chew on the paper and unrolling it is entertaining as well.
For my Timneh, Buddy, any box with sides is a problem. I thought a box that was completely open with short sides would be a sensible choice of a box to give him to chew. I didn't think this type of box could be perceived as a suitable nest site but Buddy did. I imagine chewing the cardboard was similar to excavating a nest cavity and this box triggered aggression. Buddy became territorial, protecting the box and a large area surrounding the box. I would also point out Buddy is a DNA tested male parrot. Territorial aggression or protectiveness over a perceived nest site (like a box) is not exclusive to female parrots.
I do not give my parrots boxes they can crawl into inside their cages. When we were moving I did notice Zorba liked to stand on boxes and chew through them. At the time I thought, for him, this wasn't a problem. He would chew a hole, look inside, get out what he wanted, then he was off to find other things to do. I left a box out in the living room for a few days. Zorba never chewed a hole large enough for him to be able to crawl into the box. But on about day four of the box sitting out, I noticed, when he was out of his cage, he stayed on top of the box. If I, my husband, or another parrot came near the box he would put his head down and fluff up. He was protecting his box.
You will see vine balls on several toy category pages. I consider them an essential toy part at my house. They come in a variety of sizes suitable for most parrots. Vine balls encourage chewing, shredding and foraging activity. When I am in a hurry, I can throw a toy together in record time with just a couple vine balls and few wood slices.
I get many questions and comments on the safety of repurposing cardboard egg cartons for use in parrot toys. I address this concern at the FAQ page of this website.
Below is a video of Elvis with his egg carton toy. Elvis is a parrot who will quickly give up if the foraging toy presents too much of a challenge. This is a perfect foraging and destructible parrot toy for Elvis. He will continue to work at this toy shredding the entire carton to small pieces until there is nothing left but string.
Destructible Parrot Toys
Parrot destructible toys are exactly as described; meant to be destroyed. They provide an opportunity for your bird to chew or shred.
Chewing is a significant activity for parrots in the wild. Chewing leaves and bark on browse may provide some nutritional benefit. Chewing on branches helps trim beaks.
Chewing is a natural activity for the companion parrot as well. It is important to offer toys that provide your own bird the opportunity to chew.
Toilet Paper Roll
Speaking of shredding paper, a simple idea for a quick and easy destructible toy - a whole roll of toilet paper. Teresa Schnurr's parrot, Galaxy is wrapped up in his toy.
I also like Super Bird Creations
Paper Trail Toy.
Available at Super Bird Toy Store
mentioned boxes can trigger nesting activity. I regret not knowing more than I did about parrots and boxes at the time I wrote page 25 of the first book. If I knew then what I know now, the oatmeal box photo would have been omitted entirely. But there is no taking it back. So here I will explain what I've learned and observed about parrots and boxes since then.
About Those Boxes
In The Parrot Enrichment Activity Book, Version 1, page 25, I show this photo of Carrot, a Senegal I was fostering, inside an empty oatmeal box. I did qualify this box toy example and point out that not every parrot is a candidate for having a box they can crawl into. And I briefly
Photo Credit: Jill Carter
Baskets can be turned into cage toys that encourage chewing, shredding and foraging activity. There are many ready made basket toys for sale online. Thrift stores or craft stores are great sources for finding baskets to use for parrot toys. Look for untreated baskets made of natural seagrass, wicker, willow or bamboo.
Egg Carton Toy
Egg carton toys are fun, easy and economical to make. Egg cartons have lots of chewing, shredding and foraging appeal. You can also use egg cartons as toy parts. Cut one in half and thread it on a skewer alone or with other parts such as wood, vine balls, etc.
I created a pamphlet that gives step-by-step instructions on how to make this egg carton bird toy. Click on the button below to download.
Take a piece of sea grass mat, tie on beads and straws, zip tie the mat to the cage bars, and you have a destructible bird toy with chewing appeal.
Shown here are 3 x 3 kraft boxes
I buy from www.Uline.com
Laura Ford shares photos of box toys she made for her parrots. Brilliant examples of repurposing empty boxes. I know she inspired me to make similar toys for my birds.
Boxes when presented like this, on a toy hanging in the cage, do not trigger nesting activity in my birds. This toy has lots of chewing appeal. After they forage out toys and treats, my parrots spend time chewing the boxes to pieces.
Photo Credit: Teresa Schnurr
Photo Credit: BusyBeaks.com