Homemade Parrot Toys

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in Animals, Astrology | 2 comments

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Today I took off from my usual day of doing tarot readings and casting horoscopes to join my friend Chan Quach, Chan the Bird Man, flying his parrots Bella and Rudy in Dolores Park in San Francisco.

Chan trained the birds in free flight, similar to the art of falconry. Chan’s done a brilliant job with them. He trains then with discipline, and tames them with love. In this picture, Chan is kissing Bella, a scarlet macaw. In my pic Rudy, a green wing macaw, is leaning in for more kisses!

Under Chan’s protective care, Rudy and Bella are strikingly beautiful to see in flight. They fly far away from Chan, barely visible over the bay, and the return to him seems to appear out of nowhere, as if magical red parrots are swooping down from the sky in a fairy tale.

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The macaws’ color, size, and magnificence draw a crowd. But today there were just a few small groups in the park, not the usual locals and visitors, including French tourists, asking us questions about the birds. The most common question is where are they from. Bella and Rudy are indigenous to Central and South America. They are rescues, bred for the pet trade, who are lucky they met Chan!

Bella, the smaller shy red bird, is a scarlet macaw (ara macao.) Bella weighs about two pounds. Scarlets are known for the yellow stripe across their wings. When relating to humans, they’re sweet and sensitive, although a bit high strung. Bella can live to age 80 or 90 in captivity. For over a thousand years, the scarlet macaw was bred in captivity by American Indians who valued their plumes for trade.

The big boy is Rudy, a green wing macaw known for the distinctive red feathered lines on his face. And no yellow in the wings. He weighs almost four pounds. Being a larger bird, Rudy has a calmer disposition than Bella, similar to how big dogs tend to be mellower than little dogs. Rudy is whip smart, and a Leo alpha male who loves attention. I’m happy to provide him with attention just to share his world and get to know him.

After a fun day in the park, Bella and Rudy instinctively knew when to go home. The daylight shifted and the sun began to set, time to roost for the evening. So after many stunning and inspiring flaps, dips, and dives over the park and east over the bay, Chan and I brought the birds back to his apartment. When the birds were fed and settled in, Chan and I made parrot toys.

Parrots are highly intelligent, love to be stimulated, and need things to do. So we made wooden toys for them. Chan had sticks of raw wood and a drill. I had blackberries and organic nuts. I rubbed blackberries into the wood sticks for a bright color to attract Bella and Rudy. Birds respond to color (not smell) and see colors better than we humans.

Chan drilled small holes in the berry-stained wood, and we stuffed the holes with organic cashews, almonds, walnuts, and sunflowers. Rudy and Bella have to think and work hard to get the nuts out of the wood. But a fresh almond or hazelnut is worth the reward. For me, just being around Chan and his birds is the reward.



  1. Any more ideas for toys? I have a loving 21 yr old Blue and Gold Macaw, inherited from my mother. He has been with us since he was 43 days old. It is always challenging to find him interesting toys and activities that do not always require my interacting with him!

    • Yes! Use dog toys. They are strong, safe, and easy to replace once chewed.
      Especially get toys where they have to work to get something. So where the dog toy has a place for peanut butter, replace with an almond.
      Good luck with your bird.

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