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Bird play stands and play gyms are for out-of-cage playing, exercising and interacting with the flock (you).
In addition to having toys to play with inside the cage, companion birds need time out of their cage, too. Wouldnít you? Whether just hanging out (near/with you) on a simple perch or T-Stand or on a well-stocked play gym, companion birds will be happiest if they can spend some time out of their cage on a routine basis.
Quality-time is play-time, or just hanging out.
A bird play stand is great for allowing your bird to hang out with you when you are at home, because they are easy to move from room to room. Birds are not solitary creatures in the wild, and companion birds donít like to be alone for long periods of time either.
Your bird would enjoy being in a room with you as you watch a movie, prepare dinner, work on the computer...whatever. Remember, your bird thinks of you as his or her flock. So itís important to be near you (at least near enough to see you) whenever possible.
It is not advisable to keep a bird on a perch or play-stand without access to food and water for more than an hour. Many play stands come with food and water bowls so itís not an issue. But there are some T-Stands that are bare bones and donít include bowls for food and water.
A well-stocked bird play gym is also recommended for quality-time outside the cage but may not be as easy to take from room to room. A bird play gym helps alleviate boredom with a change of scenery as well as different toys from those that are located inside the cage.
As the name implies, a bird play-gym also provides your pet opportunities to exercise. Exercise is vitally important for all pets, regardless of species. Companion birds are no exception. Bird veterinarians say that obesity is common and can lead to serious health issues just as it does in humans and other mammals.
But exercising on a bird play gym does even more than just burn calories. It also allows birds to "blow off some steam" because they are able to move around a lot more than is possible inside the cage. Whether they are walking up and down a long ladder or flapping their wings with no fear of bumping into cage walls, they have more freedom of movement. Such freedom on a scheduled, routine basis can go a long way toward making your bird happy and content.
Of course, you canít talk about "quality-time" without talking about bird toys. Most bird play stands have at least a couple of places to hang toys, and play gyms can have enough room to create a veritable birdie amusement park.
Youíll find that bird play gyms and play stands are available in many different sizes and styles. Some are made to sit on top of a table and others come on their own stands. Some are actual trees, or branches from trees, such as Manzanita tree stands. Others may be constructed from powder-coated wrought iron, 304 grade stainless steel, hard pvc plastic and wood/plastic blends.
Plastic and wood/plastic blends are super easy to clean, just wipe them down or bring them outside and hose them down. Baked on powder-coatings on wrought iron play stands and gyms give you a greater selection of colors. And high-grade 304 stainless steel is always a popular material for bird cages, play stands and gyms. Thatís because they will last a lot longer if cared for properly and they are easy to clean and disinfect because stainless steel is not porous. (So thereís no place for bacteria to hide.) That is why surgical instruments are commonly made out of stainless steel.
In the wild birds go from tree to tree to perch; none of the branches of those trees are exactly alike. Itís not natural for a bird to have only one size or shape perch. It is well-known that a bird with access to only one size and shape of perch, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year, can develop painful problems with their feet.
Bird play stands made from real trees (only from trees that are bird-safeÖand not all trees are) offer irregular shaped smaller branches for perching. Just as in the wild, the irregular sizes and shapes of natural branches in a birdís tree stand will help to "exercise" its feet. Itís not unusual for play stands made from other materials to come with artificial perches that feature irregular shapes for the same reason.
Itís also important, whether the perch is natural wood or any other material, that your bird can get a good grip on its perch. If the perch is plastic or even slippery wood, try roughing it up or scoring it with sandpaper or a palm sander.
Here are some general guidelines on perch diameters for certain breeds:
- A perch diameter of 1" to 2" is generally recommended for Cockatoos, Amazons, African Greys, Macaws and similar sized birds.
- A perch diameter of 5/8" to 1 1/4" is generally recommended for Cockatiels, Lories, Senegals, Conures and similar sized birds.
- A perch diameter of 3/8" to 3/4" is generally recommended for Canaries, Parakeets, Finches, Parrotlets and similar sized birds.
Hint: Be sure to follow your vetís recommendation on what diameter perch is best for your bird. If they are too large, your bird wonít be able to stay on it for very long, if at all. If too small, foot cramps could develop.
Now, go play!
No matter what size or style you decide on, it may take your bird a bit longer to get on board with your decision. Some birds are wary of new places to perch or play, or even of new toys. Take your birdís personality into account whenever you introduce a new toy, play stand or play gym. Some birds will take to them like a duck to water while others may require a more gradual approach.
If your bird needs some warming up to the idea of hanging out on his or her new play stand or gym, try keeping it near the bird cage for a couple of weeks so they get used to its presence. Some people have even suggested that you make approving gestures toward the play stand in front of your bird so it can see that you like it.
In time your bird will learn to love his or her play stand or play gym, and so will you.