One of the cheapest and easiest ways to entertain your birds is to offer them fresh non-toxic branches from your landscape.
Trees often need trimming and too many bird owners make the mistake of tossing those trimmings on the trash heap. Your parrots would absolutely LOVE to have a go at those branches! They get so much joy out of stripping the bark, chewing the leaves and turning the wood into mulch. In the process, they achieve a real sense of accomplishment. Not to mention a real sense of what it's like to be a BIRD!
Don't have any safe tree branches of your own to trim? Chances are, your friends, relatives and neighbors would be happy to help you out! Just ask! I've been known to pull my car over when I see someone trimming trees that I know are safe and ask them if I can take the trimmings off their hands - all they can do is say no - and no one's EVER said that!
Make sure the branches you choose are listed as safe and non-toxic and have not been sprayed with chemicals such as herbicides or pesticides. It's a good idea to avoid those growing close to streets and roads as these could be contaminated by the exhaust from passing cars.
Granted, the birds do make a bit of a mess in their destructive process, but it's a really easy mess to clean up and once you see how happy it makes them - and how busy it keeps them, you won't care!
People often ask what types of branches are safe to offer their birds to chew or to use for perches and toys. Birds love to chew fresh branches any time of year. Stripping off the bark and chewing the leaves and tiny buds is one of life's simple pleasures!
The following list is the one I refer to when deciding if a tree or branch is safe to use for my birds. I am NOT a veterinarian OR a plant expert! I have compiled this list based on information gathered from various other sources. Use it at your discretion. I have used truck loads of wild grapevine and curly willow over the years for my own birds. Super fast growing curly or corkscrew willow is THE all time favorite of my own birds.
My personal rule is, if a particular plant is not found on either list, I don't take any chances - I prefer to assume it's unsafe to use. I also don't take anyone's word for plants that aren't on the list unless they have personal experience with their own birds chewing it.
Don’t use branches that have been treated or sprayed with chemicals or pesticides. Branches from trees growing near the street or roads should not be used as they may be contaminated with exhaust fumes from cars. ****ASTERISKS**** indicate those that I use or have used for my own birds - who are all alive, healthy and without ill effects.
The following trees are NON-TOXIC and considered SAFE to use for your bird's perches and toys:
*Ash, Almond, *Apple, Aspen, Bamboo, *Beech, *Birch, Citrus, *Cottonwood, Crabapple, Dogwood, Dragonwood, *Elm, Fir, Gingko, *Grapevine, Hackberry, Hawthorn, Hazelnut, Hibiscus, Honeysuckle, Larch, *Lilac, Magnolia, *Manzanita, *Maple (except red,) Oak - wood only, Palm, Pear, Pine branches and wood, *Poplar, Rose, Sassafras, Spruce, Sweet Gum, Sycamore, *Willow
The trees listed below are considered TOXIC and should NEVER be offered to your bird:
Apricot, Black locust, Box Elder, Boxwood, Buckeye, Cherry, Crape Myrtle, Hemlock, Oak - leaves, bark and acorns, Peach, Pine (needles and berries), Plum, Red Maple, Redwood, Sumac