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Bird Safe Wood: Choosing Wood for Perches and Bird Toys

Bird Safe wood

As a bird owner, you know  that there are many considerations when it comes to setting up your feathered friend's environment.  If the bird cage is your pets home, think of bird perches as the furniture. And, who doesn’t need toys?

Wood is used in bird toys, bird perches, and on bird play stands. There are many options available both online and in your local pet store.  But, not all woods are the same. How do you choose bird safe wood?

Table of Contents

 Why do birds love to chew on wood? 

Most birds love to chew and destroy bird toys, especially wood bird toys!  What parrot hasn't munched on its wood perch? (Or, your furniture?) 

Parrots and wood go hand-in-hand.  Hello! Birds are commonly seen nesting and resting in trees.  

Our pet birds use wood bird toys and perches for entertainment and to trim their nails and beaks. 

But, just as important, chewing wood provides a sense of security and personal satisfaction to our pet birds. Think of it like a pacifier for a baby.  Chewing wood keeps our pet bird’s occupied. Who doesn't want their feathered toddler playing safely?

quotation mark Some birds need to learn how to play with toys. If you're in that situation, head over to this video or book to teach your bird how to forage and play with toys.

What kind of wood is appropriate for bird toys based on your bird’s size

There are a number of different wood types that are both safe and functional for our pet birds.  However, it's also important to consider the wood density when choosing wood-based bird toys and perches.  

For instance, if you were to give your little green cheek conure a bird toy made out of a dense, hard wood like manzanita, it would  totally ignore it. That little beak just can't handle a dense, hard wood. Our small birds need softwoods.

Likewise, if you gave your macaw soft balsa-based bird toys, it wouldn't last a minute.  That huge beak is designed to rip apart dense, hard wood. I’ll get into that in a bit.

If a type of wood is too hard or soft, a bird will either destroy it so quickly that you feel like you've thrown your money away or your bird will just ignore it. And then, your poor little bird will squawk out of boredom!

Here is a helpful picture that shows you the density of various types of bird safe woods that can be used in bird toys and 4 bird perches.

Wood Density Guide for Bird Toys



Bird Size Toy Application



Relatively softer wood, especially when cut across the grain.  Makes great medium sized bird toys.



Extremely soft wood that is excellent for small bird toys.


42 +/-

Moderately soft wood for small to medium bird toys



Moderately soft wood that is excellent for small to medium bird toys.



Moderately soft wood that is excellent for small to medium bird toys.



Moderately soft wood that is excellent for medium to large bird toys.



  Moderately soft wood that is excellent for medium to large bird toys.



  Moderately soft wood that is excellent for small to larger bird toys.



  Moderately soft wood that is excellent for medium to large bird toys.



  Moderately soft wood that is excellent for small to larger bird toys.

Cactus (cholla)


Very soft bird wood with cavities that make good small bird toys, bird perches



Very hardwood best for very large bird toys and


What kind of wood should you stay away from?

Parrots have an instinctual need to chew wood. Wood bird toys and perches satisfy the gnawing and chomping needs that parrots have. Bird’s exercise their jaws, trim the beak, and are comforted when they chew on wood.  

All sized parrots love to chew wood, but you must make sure to choose bird safe wood. But, you've got to understand a few things when ordering bird perches and bird toys online.

First, cheap or internationally sourced woods may  have been sprayed with poisonous pesticides or feature unsafe metal hardware. 

With wood bird toys, in particular, where your bird is actually chewing up the product, you really have to be careful about the manufacturer.  I like to play it safe and order from US-based manufacturers. 

Ask yourself -

 Has the wood been treated with pesticides? 

 Have harmful chemicals been sprayed on the wood to disinfect it?

 Is the hardware on the toy bird-safe?

 What kind of glue may have been used to make the toy?

Even furniture manufacturers sell treated wood scraps for bird toys on Amazon and eBay. 

Reputable bird product manufacturers carefully source their wood so that it is bird safe. Shop brand names like Super Bird Creations, Bonka Bird toys, and Planet Pleasures. 

Here's a rule of thumb. If you can't pronounce the name of the manufacturer, stay away.

If you are making your own bird toys, remember that there are some wood types that are not bird safe. 

Here's a list of wood types that are NOT bird safe to use in bird toys or to make your own perches:

- Cedar
- Red Cherry
- Plywood
- Oak
- Any wood that has been sprayed for pesticides
- All  weather-treated woods 



Your bird is relying on you to make sure that it's bird toys are safe. And, while no Bird toy is 100% safe for all birds, you can use some tips in choosing the right toy based on size, the materials and design, and your first-hand knowledge of your bird's play style and toy preferences.

Bird Toy Considerations

  • Is the bird toy size appropriate?
  • Does the bird toy use safe metal hardware?
  • Did the manufacturer use safe, appropriately dense wood?
  • Did the manufacturer use bird-safe dyes to color the wood?

In terms of size considerations, just like a smaller bird needs softer wood parts, it also needs smaller hardware, the metal parts that hold the toy together.  A lot of small bird toys have colorful, brittle plastic parts which work out fine because their beaks are too small to shatter the plastic.

Larger birds enjoy harder, denser wood parts and larger hardware. The smaller hardware could pose a choking hazard for a large bird. it's also wise to stay away from brittle plastic parts that that big beak could shatter into sharp splinters.

When choosing wood bird toys make sure that it is from a safe tree type like those listed above. Also make sure that the dyes used to color the wood are made from non-toxic food coloring or vegetable dyes. and that any paint is child-safe and non-toxic.

How to make tree branches safe for your bird 

A lot of people want to make their own bird toys and bird perches. They've got trees in their yard and they want to make use of them!  So, how do you go about preparing bird-safe wood branches to offer your bird a natural experience?

First, make sure that the branch you're choosing to make the bird perch or toy is a bird safe wood.If you're unsure it's best to avoid it.

Second, avoid any wood that has been treated with any sort of chemical including pesticides or other treatments.

Third, kill any beetles or bugs that may be on the branch. You could cut the branch to size and bake it at 200 degrees for about an hour. That should take care of all of the critters.

Fourth, opt for stainless steel hardware to ensure that your bird doesn't get metal poisoning. 

In conclusion I've shared with you which woods are considered safe and which are not. I've also talked about wood density and which  wood types are appropriate for smaller birds versus larger birds. I hope you found this blog post helpful. If so please leave a comment and share the link on your social media and with your friends.