The first step in creating a playroom for your bird is obviously finding the right space. It will be more economical to use an existing room such as an extra bedroom but you may want to consider screening in a patio or carport which will require some work.
Before we go on, let me mention something. Regardless of the space you decide on there is one thing that the room absolutely must have and that's a window with a view. I stress the importance of this because a room without a window is no more appealing to your bird than it is to you. For this reason most basements do not make good play rooms for birds, at least none I've seen. It will be helpful if you think of this project like building a nursery or kid's den. Think colorful, bright and cheerful.
Here are a few other things we will look at:
Safety issues. Importance of starting with an empty room
Housing Cages. Pros and Cons
Comfort. Would you feel comfortable?
Supervision. Your bird alone
The fun part. Toys and things
Safety is absolutely the most important factor in designing a bird room. The next step I am about to mention may sound odd and time consuming but trust me when I say it's critical. Absolutely critical.
OK, here we go. Before you get started, you need to remove everything from the room. That's right, everything that isn't nailed down. That includes all furniture such as shelves, beds, tables and chairs. All accessories including plants, drapes and even photos. The room should be totally empty of anything that is not part of the rooms actual construction.
The reason for this is safety. Every single item you place in the room must be well thought out and bird approved. Think of your room as one extra large bird cage. You start with an empty cage and are very careful and conscientious of anything that is added. Your room is no different; it's basically a large cage.
Do not try to cut corners here by leaving a few things in the room and trying to work around them. Furniture and accessories may look innocent enough but they can actually camouflage danger. For example, let's say you leave one coffee table in the room because it appears harmless. Later you realize the table was hiding an electrical outlet that your bird found while climbing under the table. Get the picture? Empty the room.
Now that the room is empty you'll want to walk around noting any potential safety concerns such as thermostats, outlets, door jams, ceiling lights and switches. You will need to make certain these are far out of your bird's reach and that nothing is placed too close to them.
A quick note. Make certain the room was not painted with lead-based paint. If you have any doubts at all, you can purchase a test kit. Birds have died from chewing on walls painted with lead-based paints so do be careful. I recommend latex paint for your walls and designs.
When you start placing things in the room you'll want to add only items that you would put in your bird's cage, if they would fit. In other words, you would not put a glass vase in your bird's cage nor would you put a lamp in there. Every item added to the room must be well thought out and bird proofed. And speaking of lamps, I don't recommend them. Lamps have cords and hot glass bulbs. They can be both a chewing and fire hazard. A dear friend of mine lost her Eclectus to a torch lamp when her bird managed to climb a cage and jump on top of the lamp.
If you're concerned about the room not being bright enough you can exchange the ceiling light with a full spectrum bulb or even paint the room a sunny shade of yellow.
If you are going to add a radio or TV, you have to make certain that the cord is completely covered and out of reach. It's not enough to "hide" the cords. Assume your bird will get to it so you want to cover the cord. Threading the cord through *electrical PVC pipes is a great start. Even Macaws can't chew through PVC.
Avoid heavy items that could tip over and fall on your bird. Shelves and cabinets must be extremely stable and may need to be bolted to walls. Be aware of heavy accessories such as books or decorative items that could also tumble down. Once again, if you wouldn't put it in your bird's cage don't put it in his room... at least not before making it bird proof.
The room has to be cheerful and interesting. Stand in the middle of the room and look around. Do you feel comfortable? Secure? Do you like the color? Is there enough light in the room? How's the temperature? Which direction is the sun coming in? Are there cold or hot spots in the room? All of these issues need to be addressed. Birds get bored very easily, your job is to keep them busy and stimulated.
If your bird will be left alone to play in the room, you may need to make some additional modifications such as covering baseboards or windowsills with Plexiglas to prevent chewing. If you do not plan on modifying the room keeping a close eye on your flock and keeping toys and furniture away from windowsills and walls will still be necessary. Remember, safety is key.
There are pros and cons to having cages in your play room. The down side is that cages often take up a lot of space. The good side is that you can incorporate them into the play area by leaving the cage doors open and packing the cages with various levels of toys and maybe a birdie bed.
The fun part
Designing your room should be fun. Now is the time to let your creativity flow. You can purchase all sorts of play-gyms and toys or you can build a few of your own. It was only through trial and error that I came up with the idea of using natural branches in our bird's room. I remember building an entire play-gym out of PVC, it was huge! Although I was impressed my birds sure were not. They much rather have natural wood to climb and chew on than plastics. Remember, think bright and colorful! The room should be full of toys for chewing and playing and lots of ropes and hard plastic chains for climbing and swinging.
You can do several things to create a big play area for your bird. You can hang toys, ropes and thick plastic chains from the ceiling. You may want to buy ceiling guards to protect your ceiling from chewing. Here are a few tips and ideas:
Maximize the space. Start from the ceiling and work your way down. This is what I refer to as "layering" your room. For example hang swings and ropes from the ceiling so your bird is climbing vertically as well as horizontally.
Layer from the bottom up.
Place a play-tree full of toys under your
hanging ropes and swings so your birds
can climb up or down to play. Again, this
maximizes the play space. Notice that
this tree is heavily equipped with toys.
Each "layer" should be a play station
of its own. Continue layering throughout
I recommend using vinyl flooring in your room.
Ceramic tiles or concrete can cause injury if
your bird happens to slip and fall. Here, I put
down vinyl self-sticking tiles from Home Depot. It was very easy and inexpensive to do.
If you are going to put cages in the
playroom you want to approach them as
yet another separate play station.
Layer the cage with toys both vertically
and horizontally. Leave the cage door
open so your bird can climb in to play
A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS
Rotate toys in the play room at least once a month to prevent boredom.
Be extra careful using hooks to hang toys. I recommend using eye hooks in the ceiling and securing toys with stainless steel quick links. You may also want to consider using ceiling guards.
If you are using chain to hang toys you should make certain it's stainless steel. I don't find the
look of metal chain appealing, you can hide it by threading the chain through a PVC pipe. A great alternative is hard plastic chain it's both decorative and useful and comes in several colors.
Give your room a personal touch by painting it with bright colors. You can draw a few trees and plants to give it a jungle theme. Not artistic? Try tatouage which is an easy rub on application.
A small water fountain will provide your bird with calming sights and sounds but make certain the cord is secure. We ran our plug through a PVC pipe and then hid the pipe far behind the fountain itself.
Don't leave anything to chance. Don't assume your bird can't reach things such as a radio. In addition to keeping it far out of reach you will want to make it bird proof so that if your bird does happen upon it, there will be no danger. PVC pipe can also be used to cover radio cords.
Keep toys and ropes away from doors. Your bird could climb up the door or even catch a foot in the door jam. If you leave the door open I recommend putting a door stopper below so that the door will not move at all.
Rope can be used as a form of transportation for your bird by stretching the rope from one side of the room to the next and even draping it from the ceiling. Instead of buying rope from bird stores I looked in the