Bird Safe wood

As a bird owner, picking the right bird-safe wood for your feathered friend’s setup is crucial. Think of their cage as their house, the perches as their furniture, and toys? Well, those are just essential for fun and exercise! Wood is a popular choice for bird toys, perches, and play stands, and while you can find plenty of options online or at your local pet store, not all woods are created equal. So, how do you make sure you're choosing wood that’s safe for your bird?

Why do birds love to chew on wood? 

Most birds love to chew and destroy perches and 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.  

By far the biggest benefit of natural perches is that they will vary in diameter and shape, so your bird’s feet will be constantly exercised.

L. Caddy, World Parrot Trust
Autumn 2020

What type of wood should you choose for your bird's toys and perches? It depends on the size of your bird. First, choose a bird safe wood and second consider the diameter and density of the wood.

Choosing the right wood for your feathered friends isn’t just about picking any bird-safe wood—it’s also about matching the wood's density to your bird's beak strength and play habits. Let’s peck into the details!

For our smaller avian pals, like a green cheek conure, softwoods are the way to go. Imagine giving one of these little guys a toy made from tough, dense manzanita wood. Chances are, it would sit untouched because that tiny beak isn’t made to handle the hard stuff! On the flip side, if you were to hand over a soft balsa wood toy to a mighty macaw, you might as well say bye-bye to it instantly. Those powerful beaks are designed to tear through dense materials with ease.

It's a delicate balance—choose a wood that’s too hard, and your bird might ignore it out of frustration. Too soft, and it could be destroyed in a flash, making you feel like your money just flew out the window. Nobody wants a bored, squawking bird on their hands! To help you make the best choice, here’s a nifty guide to the density of various types of wood that are perfect for both toys and perches. This way, you can ensure your bird's toys are just the right type for their beak and play style. Let’s keep those beaks busy and birds happy!

The image below ranks bird-safe woods from the softest to the hardest, based on their density.

Wood Density Guide for Bird Toys

Wood Density Bird Size Toy Application
Apple 41-52 Moderately soft wood that is excellent for medium to large bird toys.
Ash 33-53 Moderately soft wood that is excellent for small to larger bird toys.
Balsa 7-9 Extremely soft wood that is excellent for small bird toys.
Basswood 20-37 Moderately soft wood that is excellent for small to medium bird toys.
Birch 42 +/- Moderately soft wood for small to medium bird toys
Cactus (cholla) lightweight and porous Very soft bird wood with cavities that make good small bird toys, bird perches
Elm 35-50 Moderately soft wood that is excellent for small to larger bird toys.
Manzanita Very hard Very hardwood best for very large bird toys and
Maple 39-47 Moderately soft wood that is excellent for medium to large bird toys.

What kind of wood should you stay away from?

wood branches

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:

Unsafe Woods for Birds:

  • Alder (Red Alder)
  • Andromeda (Pieris, Lily of the Valley Shrub)
  • Apricot
  • Arrowhead Vine
  • Australian Flame Tree
  • Australian Umbrella Tree
  • Avocado
  • Azalea (Related to Rhododendron)
  • Baneberry (Actaea)
  • Beans (Castor, Horse, Fava, Broad, Glory, Scarlet Runner)
  • Black Locust (Robinia)
  • Box Elder
  • Boxwood (Buxus)
  • Bracken Fern
  • Burdock
  • Cacao
  • Camel Bush (Trichodesma)
  • Canary Bird Bush (Crotalaria)
  • Cannabis
  • Castor Bean
  • Cedar (Thuja, Chamaecyparis, Cupressus)
  • Chalice (Trumpet Vine)
  • Cherry
  • China Berry Tree (Melia / Texas Umbrella Tree)
  • Chinese Magnolia
  • Chinese Popcorn / Tallow
  • Chinese Snake Tree (Laquer Plant)
  • Common Sage
  • Coriander (Cilantro)
  • Daphne (It's the Berries)
  • Datura (Brugmansia - Angel's Trumpet)
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Elderberry
  • Euonymus
  • Euphorbia
  • Felt Plant (Kalanchoe baharensis)
  • Firethorn (Pyracantha)
  • Flame Tree (Brachychiton / Sterculia)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis)
  • Golden Chain Tree (Laburnum)
  • Ground Cherry
  • Heaths
  • Hemlock (Tsuga)
  • Holly (Ilex)
  • Honey Locust (Gleditsia)
  • Horse Chestnut (Aesculus)
  • Huckleberry (Leaves Bad: Evergreen & Deciduous)
  • Hydrangea
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper (Juniperus)
  • Kalmia (Mountain Laurel)
  • Kentucky Coffee Tree
  • Lantana (Red Sage)
  • Laurel (Prunus)
  • Leucothoe
  • Lupine
  • Mango (Fruit Okay: Not Wood or Leaves)
  • Mexican Breadfruit
  • Mock Orange (Philadelphus)
  • Monstera
  • Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia)
  • Myrtle (Not Crape Myrtle)
  • Nectarine
  • Nutmeg
  • Oak (Quercus - All Parts / Tannins)
  • Oleander
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Penciltree
  • Pitch Pine
  • Plum
  • Privet
  • Rain Tree
  • Red Maple
  • Red Sage (Lantana)
  • Redwood (Sequoiadendron, Metasequoia, Sequoia)
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb
  • Sand Box Tree
  • Skimmia
  • Solanum (Jerusalem Cherry or Pepino)
  • Sophora (Includes Japanese Pagoda Tree)
  • Sumac
  • Tansy
  • Tobacco
  • Tomato
  • Umbrella Tree
  • Walnut
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina)
  • White Cedar (China)
  • Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)
  • Wisteria
  • Yew (Taxus)

Your feathered friend counts on you to pick toys that are safe and fun! While no bird toy is perfect for every bird, you can smartly choose the best ones by considering the size, materials, and design of the toy, along with your own insights into your bird’s unique play style and preferences. Let’s make playtime both safe and exciting for your beloved bird!

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.

DIY Bird Perches 

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?

1. Choose Safe Wood: Always select branches from bird-safe wood species. If there's any doubt about the safety of the wood, it's better to skip it and choose another that you're sure is safe.

2. Steer Clear of Chemicals: Never use wood that has been treated with chemicals, pesticides, or any other treatments. Natural is best when it comes to your bird's health.

3. Eliminate Pests Safely: To ensure no pests linger on your chosen branch, cut it to the desired size and bake it in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. This will effectively eliminate any critters without the use of harmful chemicals.

4.  Use Stainless Steel Hardware: When assembling your bird perch or toy, opt for stainless steel hardware. This prevents the risk of metal poisoning, ensuring your bird plays safely.

These steps not only enhance the safety of the DIY bird perches and toys you create but also contribute to the overall well-being of your feathered friend.

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. 

Related Posts:

Cage Cleaning Hacks You Can Start Using Today

Step Up Your Parrot Foot Care Game: A How-To Guide

 What is Bird Arthritis and How Does It Affect Your Bird?


Backus, S. B., Sustaita, D., Odhner, L. U., & Dollar, A. M. (2015). Mechanical analysis of avian feet: Multiarticular muscles in grasping and perching. Royal Society Open Science, 2(2), Article 140350.

Brookville Veterinary Hospital. (2020, July 1). Jefferson County, PA vet: Choosing and placing bird perches. Retrieved from

Caddy, L. (2020, Autumn). How to provide the best foot care for your bird. Parrots at Paradise Park, UK (home of the World Parrot Trust). Retrieved from

Link to this blog:

Burroughs, D. (2024, May 12). Bird-safe wood. Retrieved from


Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

TAGS: #BirdSafeWood #BirdPerches #BirdSafeBranches