I've been doing my Google searches, following up on postings I've read on the subject and have been doing some other reading of literature on B&G Macaws and U2s and I think I've got my checklist completed for what I need for making my own toys for these critters. A friend of mine has the birds, and I'm trying to help her out to see if we can reduce the expenses of store-bought toys while still providing safe & effective entertainment for the birds.
1) Only use untreated woods from the "safe" list of woods. In particular,pine and ash lumber look like the two most economical types to obtain at Lowes and Home Depot. An alternative is to get those ABC/123 kid-safe non-toxic wooden blocks at a toy store.
2) Only use stainless steel when hardware is needed, such as in a chain orany fasteners, or else perhaps in things like large metal washers. Make certain that any openings in fasteners aren't going to allow a beak, toe, foot or head to get snagged/hung in the opening.
3) To dye the wood, get concentrated commercial grade food colorings suchas the ones that are commonly available at any store that sells cake decoration supplies. After the wood has been dyed, air dry it or possibly bake it for a short period of time at 350 degrees F to completely dry it and then wash it down in white vinegar to help fix the dye in the wood.
There are a few things for which I'm looking for more information as I've seen conflicting postings about these materials.
1) Rope made of natural fibers such as hemp and heavy jute twine may beused in place of stainless steel in some portions of a toy, or a thick piece of hemp rope may be hung to use as both a climbing and chewing toy.
2) PVC plumbing fittings such as elbows may be used when strung together ona chain or rope. Typically, the pieces are of 3/4" diameter and must not be small enough to become a choking hazard, nor large enough to allow part of the bird's body to become trapped in it. I question whether or not a sharp beak could scrape of bits of plastic that might become a choking hazard, interfere with digestion or just be out-right poisonous if ingested.
3) Bells and other metallic noise makers - are brass or copper off limits -is stainless steel the only choice?
I just want to make sure that there's nothing dangerous in my materials list and that I'm not off-base with any of what I'm looking to do here.
TIA,
Chuck
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2) Only use stainless steel when hardware is needed, such as in a chain or any fasteners, or else perhaps ... any openings in fasteners aren't going to allow a beak, toe, foot or head to get snagged/hung in the opening.

Not sure if this is included, but in case it's not be sure to add to your checklist: NO SPRING CLIPS. We almost lost our green cheek conure to one of them. She got her beak wedged into it, and the harder she tried to release it, the harder it dug into her mouth. There was blood everywhere. It was sheer luck we were next to her cage when it happened or she certainly would have bled to death.
3) Bells and other metallic noise makers - are brass or copper off limits - is stainless steel the only choice?

Not sure about that. But whatever metal you choose, be sure to check for lead content, especially in the ringer. Also check that the ringer's attachment to the bell is substantial enough to withstand the beaks of larger birds. A few weeks ago we watched in amazement as our caique sliced the ringer off of a large bell with no apparent effort at all. Luckily he dropped it into his cage and didn't swallow it.
Rick
Thanks for your input. Yes, I had the ban on springs of all sorts in mind and simply forgot to type it out. Your other point about the "clanger" on the bell being firmly attached - that's a good one that I hadn't considered before. As for lead content, pure copper should be lead-free, and stainless steel is definitely lead free. Bronze is made from an alloy of copper and tin, and now that I think about it, I seem to remember that lead can be a contaminant in the bronze smelting process.

Chuck
Not sure about that. But whatever metal you choose, ... he dropped it into his cage and didn't swallow it.

Thanks for your input. Yes, I had the ban on springs of all sorts in mind and simply forgot to ... that I think about it, I seem to remember that lead can be a contaminant in the bronze smelting process.

Another consideration here is zinc, which is very toxic to birds in high concentrations. I don't know if it's used in stainless steel bells, but I do know it's an issue with steel cages.

Rick
3) Bells and other metallic noise makers - are brass or copper off limits - is stainless steel the only choice?

Yes, because copper contains zinc and so does brass IIRC.Stainless ones can be bought cheaply, just don't get the closed, jingle bells type as beaks can get caught in them.
Thanks for your input. Yes, I had the ban on ... lead can be a contaminant in the bronze smelting process.

Another consideration here is zinc, which is very toxic to birds in high concentrations. I don't know if it's used in stainless steel bells, but I do know it's an issue with steel cages.

Stainless is steel with nickel added, which reduces its rusting.
Another consideration here is zinc, which is very toxic to ... but I do know it's an issue with steel cages.

Stainless is steel with nickel added, which reduces its rusting.

Nope. Your typical, common, every day stainless steel Grade T304L or 304 is 18 to 20% chrome, 8 to 11 % nickel, .08% max Carbon, 2% max manganese and 1% max silicon. Alro Group Metals Guide page
131.
The problem arises when they use plated wire or plate the cage after manufacture. "Plating" usually refers to zinc plating. It is like galvanizing but not as heavy a coating.
Another consideration here is zinc, which is very toxic to birds in high concentrations. I don't know if it's used in stainless steel bells, but I do know it's an issue with steel cages.

Yes, I'm aware of the zinc issue. Zinc is used in the galvanizing process (e.g. galvanized steel). Stainless steel contains no zinc. Making sure that the entire bell and all of its components are made from the same stainless steel would be important. But if all the parts of the bell are SS then there's no zinc in it.

Chuck
3) Bells and other metallic noise makers - are brass or copper off limits - is stainless steel the only choice?

Yes, because copper contains zinc and so does brass IIRC.Stainless ones can be bought cheaply, just don't get the closed, jingle bells type as beaks can get caught in them.

Thanks. That rules out the copper and bronze bells. I would think that pure copper would be zinc-free, but if adulterated copper is used then it is not unreasonable to suspect that zinc could be present. For example, the one cent coin in American currency is a zinc core that is plated with copper. I can see that sticking with stainless steel is certainly the safest way to go and it isn't worth the risk to try to use anything else.

Chuck
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