20 Creative DIY Foraging TOYS For Small Birds (Homemade Toys)

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

Have you been running low on good foraging toys for your bird?

Looking for a cost-effective way to provide new and interesting activities for your small parrot?

Well, look no further because this article will showcase 20 DIY foraging toys that you can easily make at home for a low price.

You’re also going to learn exactly how to make these 20 homemade foraging toys.

If you have a cockatiel, budgie, conure, or another small parrot, these are the toys for you!

There is no need to spend big when you can make equally interesting bird toys using nothing but everyday household items and a bit of creativity.

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1) Cereal Box Foraging Tray

One of the easiest DIY foraging toys to make is the cereal box tray:

DIY foraging toys for small birds

To make this toy, you need to grab an empty cereal box, cut off one of the long faces on the box, and shorten the walls all the way around the box.

That’s exactly what I did to make the cereal box tray in the image above.

Next, you simply fill up the tray with foraging material and your parrot’s favourite treats.

Place the foraging box on the bottom or top of the cage or on a flat tabletop for your bird to play.

2) Egg Carton Foraging Box

This is a similar idea, but with different bird-safe materials.

Not only can birds eat eggs, but you can also use that egg carton to make a cool little foraging toy.

Homemade foraging toys for parrots
(Image Credit: Unsplash)

Simply remove the top of the egg carton and fill up the egg-holding bottoms with foraging material.

You can also trim the long end of the carton to make the foraging toy smaller for your smaller parrot.

There are a lot more things you can do with an egg carton, but turning it into a foraging tray is probably the easiest.

3) Paper Cup Forager

A pack of paper cups are pretty cheap, being sold for about 2.50$ at my local shop.

To turn a paper cup into a foraging toy, you only need to make a few holes and fill it up with foraging material.

(A bird-safe paper cup)

Make the holes on all sides of the cup so your small parrot can forage through them for treats.

If you want to attach the cup to the cage, just make another hole near the top and attach it using a quick link connector.

If you don’t have any quick links, you can buy a pack of stainless steel links here on amazon.

They’re extremely useful for DIY toys!

4) Paper Plate Foraging Tray

This is very similar to the first homemade foraging toy, except it’s even simpler.

Do you use those organic paper plates?

If so, you can get one, place it somewhere on your parrot’s cage, and then fill it up with treats and foraging material.

Super simple DIY foraging toy that takes less than a minute to make.

5) Medicine/Pill Bottle Forager

Using a pill bottle as a toy might sound unsafe, but when properly washed out, empty hard plastic pill bottles can be used to make a small foraging toy for your little parrot.

how to make homemade foraging toys for parrots
(This is my cockatiel’s almost empty antibiotics bottle that I plan to use for a foraging toy)

Simply drill some holes into the sides of the bottle, fill it with foraging material, and place it on the floor of your bird’s cage.

If you want to hang it up, drill two small holes next to each other on the lid, leaving a solid gap for a quick link connector to link it to the cage.

6) Folded Paper Ball Forager

Another super simple homemade foraging toy is just a few pieces of folded paper.

Have multiple pieces of paper, fold them into each other while adding seeds between each layer, and then poke a few holes all the way around.

You can make it as thick and as big as you like.

For small parrots, I guess you wouldn’t want to make it too big.

The simplicity of this toy makes it highly customizable.

For example, you can add bamboo cutlery or some old toy parts poking out of the ball so it’s a bit more interesting for your bird.

It’s great for the floor of the cage, or you could poke a hole through the paper and connect it to the cage with a quick link.

Usually, I just add them to other foraging trays.

7) Food Bowl Foraging

Have you ever thought to add foraging opportunities to your bird’s food bowl?

When serving pellets to your parrot, you could sprinkle just a few seeds in the bowl to provide foraging enrichment.

As well as seeds, you could also top the bowl off with shredded paper to increase foraging difficulty.

Watch as your bird throws out all the foraging material to get to the food.

8) Carrot Forager

Using carrots to promote foraging is super fun!

This method requires the entire carrot to be in the cage as your bird will be foraging for seeds inside the carrot.

DIY foraging toys for small parrots & birds
(Arthur playing with the carrot forager)

All you need to do is make a few holes, openings, and gaps on the carrot and cram some seeds inside.

Use a stainless steel skewer to hang the carrot from the top of the cage.

Make a few seeds easy to find on the veggie so your parrot is motivated to forage for some more.

Not only does this method encourage your parrot to forage, but it promotes healthy eating!

Note: This method can also be applied to similar foods such as zucchini, asparagus, and other carrot-like vegetables.

9) Broccoli Forager

We discussed the carrot forager, now let’s discuss the broccoli forager, which is slightly different.

Not just because of the vegetable, but because of how you encourage your parrot to forage.

Instead of creating gaps to insert treats, you can just stick them in the broccoli head without modifying it in any way.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)

Broccoli can be attached to the cage with a skewer with the head facing upwards, where you can insert treats.

Broccoli is super healthy to serve your bird, and having seeds around will encourage your bird to eat it.

Note: This toy also works with cauliflower.

10) Bamboo Spoons, Knives, or Forks

Most stores sell bamboo cutlery that you can use to make foraging toys for your bird.

These items are inexpensive and most parrots enjoy chewing on them.

DIY foraging & shredding toys for birds
(Bamboo knives I have attached to a quick link connector)

You can’t really turn the cutlery itself into a foraging toy, but it can be added to homemade foraging trays or foraging balls for extra fun.

Breaking up the items is also a good way to add smaller pieces of wood to a foraging tray.

What I do with bamboo cutlery is drill a hole through the top and quick link it to the cage for my cockatiel to shred.

He seems to enjoy it like that.

11) Old Toy Parts

Do you have any parts left over from your bird’s previous toys?

Clean toy parts that have broken off from the main toy can be repurposed for future DIY foraging toys.

Toys with lots of little parts that easily break are especially good for this!

Look at how I’ve repurposed the wood sticks that fell off those super shredder ball toys:

My cockatiel destroyed this thing and I simply added the remains to the foraging box on top of the cage.

So, before you throw away a toy part, think about how it could be repurposed into future foraging toys for your parrot.

12) DIY Plastic Water Bottle Foraging Toy

To make this foraging toy, you’ll need a plastic water bottle and LOTS of shredded paper.

I haven’t yet made this toy so I don’t have an image to show, but it’s essentially just an empty plastic water bottle filled with shredded paper and some holes on the sides for foraging.

(Image Credit: Unsplash)

The water bottle you decide to use can be as big or as small as you want.

To hang this foraging toy to the cage, you need to make a hole near the bottle cap and tie it to the cage using bird-safe rope such as sisal, hemp, or even leather.

Just make sure your bird doesn’t eat the rope as that can cause crop impaction.

13) Large Shoebox Foraging Box

An old shoebox can definitely be repurposed as a huge foraging box for your little bird.

Its size allows you to add lots of different foraging materials such as shredded paper, bamboo spoons, old toy parts, and other bird-safe materials.

How to make foraging toys for parrots

It might also be good to add a small perch to the box in case your bird would like to jump in and forage from the inside.

Due to its size, the shoebox foraging toy is best kept on a tabletop as it likely wouldn’t fit in the cage.

Make sure that whatever shoebox you use is dust-free, germ-free, and hygienic for your parrot.

14) Small Enclosed Carboard Foraging Box

One of the simplest cardboard toys you can make for your bird is a small box with added holes for foraging.

You could grab some cardboard pieces and fold them into a box form, or you could use an already made cardboard box.

How to make bird toys out of cardboard

I didn’t actually make this one, I bought it from the pet store, but this is essentially the idea.

Although this toy cost me $15.90, I know I could’ve made it myself for under 10$.

To make it, you could use those cardboard boxes that hold tea bags, which are pretty common household items.

Poke some holes around the box, fill it up with shredded paper, and connect it to the cage using a quick link connector.

15) Tissue Box Foraging Tray

Another common household item you can make bird toys from is tissue boxes.

Once you’ve used all the tissues to wipe up your parrots droppings, you can use the remaining box to promote foraging activities.

Poke a few holes around the bottom of the tissue box and fill it up with foraging material.

How to make DIY bird toys
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

You can then place the tissue box forager on the floor or playstand of the cage and watch your parrot rip it apart.

16) Straws As Foraging Material

Bamboo and paper straws are all safe for making homemade bird toys with.

The only straws that can be unsafe for birds are plastic ones, but these are getting banned within Australia so you likely won’t find any of these if you live here anyways.

They’re getting replaced with these bad boys, which are bird-safe:

Homemade foraging toys for parrots
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

Bird-safe straws are a great material to help fill up foraging toys.

You can cut the paper straws into smaller pieces and add them to the homemade foraging tray for a more varied foraging experience.

The bamboo straws can also be used for shredding, which parrots always enjoy.

17) Bamboo Finger Traps

You can do quite a lot of creative things with bamboo finger traps.

For example, you can hang them on the cage by making a hole near the top and using a quick link connector.

To make it a foraging toy, you can stuff it with shredded paper and make small holes all the way around.

I’ve seen some people just stick a whole branch of millet spray through the finger trap as a way to encourage shredding.

As well as hanging them up, you could also add them to foraging trays.

18) Wooden Pegs Foraging Material

I primarily use wooden pegs to clip vegetables to my cockatiels cage, but they can also be used for homemade foraging toys.

When used by themselves, wooden pegs are great for shredding.

For foraging toys, they’re best added to foraging trays or they can be clipped to other toys.

This is how I used wooden pegs for the cereal box foraging tray:

Homemade foraging toys for parakeets

You can remove the metal spring in the middle by pulling the two pieces of wood apart.

It’s best to do this when using them as foraging material.

Just another idea, but you could clip a lot of pegs to the cage and hide treats in only a few of the pegs, which will cause your parrot to search for treats.

I could definitely see my cockatiel enjoying this, so perhaps give it a try with your birds.

19) Your Birds’ Dropped Feathers

Your birds’ dropped flight feathers can make a great addition to a homemade foraging toy.

If you collect your bird’s moulted feathers as I do, then you’ll have a ready stash to include in some toys.

They’re best added to DIY foraging trays or poked through other foraging toys.

Homemade foraging toys for parakeets
(My cockatiels ULTIMATE foraging plate)

One concern with allowing parrots to play with their moulted feathers is that it could possibly lead to feather plucking.

A few bird owners have reported this.

If you choose to do this, be mindful, and make sure you remove moulted feathers from their environment if they begin to show abnormal behaviour.

Other than that, parrots often like to chew the ends of their moulted feathers as well as searching through them to find treats.

20) Coloured Shredded Paper

Do you know what’s even better than shredded paper?

Coloured shredded paper!

In general, colour makes most objects and toys more interesting to parrots.

Coloured shredding paper is an inexpensive way to spice up a regular foraging tray.

You can find coloured paper at most stores that sell office items, otherwise, you can purchase some here on amazon.

How to make bird toys out of household items
(Image Credit: Amazon)

Bird-Safe Materials For DIY Toys

Before ending this article, I first want to make a list of bird-safe materials that you can use on your future DIY foraging toys.

  • Balsa wood
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Coloured paper (bird-safe dye)
  • Newspaper
  • Bamboo
  • Rattan wood
  • Seagrass
  • Leather
  • Pine
  • Untreated sisal (good to hang toys with)
  • Untreated hemp
  • Untreated cotton
  • Stainless steel (one of the only parrot-safe metals)
  • Some household items (tissue boxes, water bottles, medicine bottles)
  • Egg cartons

Note: These materials are all safe until your bird starts eating them, in that case, you need to remove them. Rope materials are only dangerous when your bird decides to rip and eat the threads, otherwise, they’re completely safe to use for hanging toys.

Materials You Must Avoid Using For Homemade Toys

Now, here are some of the materials that you should avoid using for homemade bird toys:

  • Rubber
  • Zinc
  • Toilet paper/paper towel roles (not because of the cardboard, but because of the glue adhesives)
  • Metal
  • Lead
  • Copper
  • Paints
  • Glue
  • Toxic woods (Cedar, red alder, avocado, burdock)
  • Poop-covered materials (such as toys, wood, and paper)
  • Tobacco
  • Anything else that you’re not 100% sure about should also be avoided


Once you know what is and isn’t safe, it’s pretty easy to make foraging toys for your small parrot.

There are so many household items that can be used to make very interesting bird toys, but there are also many toxic things as well.

As a general rule of thumb, you should never use anything that you’re not 100% sure of.

Every toy/material that I mentioned is 100% bird-safe as long as they don’t actually eat it.

To ensure the materials you use a bird-safe, check out the article below:

23 Safe Materials To Use For DIY Bird Toys


1 Comment

Yvonne Grosella · August 13, 2023 at 12:41 am

Cheers from Minnesota, USA❣️

I am quite thankful for this great article you, so kindly, took the time to write

My adult son’s group home recently acquired a cockateil that many times, is too noisy for my special needs son … I can relate! ‍ Knowing nothing about cockateils, I searched online for ways to entertain “Jake”. That’s where I came upon your article that was sooo helpful re our dilemma PLUS the added benefit of giving my son & his housemates a functional DIY craft idea FOR Jake❣️❣️❣️ You are BRILLIANT❣️❣️❣️

Thank you sooo much❣️

One thing to note is in the list of safe materials, leather is listed WITHOUT the addition of being “vegetable oiled” as mentioned in your earlier article.

Keep up the good bird work❣️
& stay well n stay safe

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