Originally published in Pet Gazette, September/October 2014
Phonebooks are a free joy for bird owners. My friends collect unwanted phone books (or catalogs from Tractor Supply) for my birds to gleefully shred. You can provide your bird phone books to shred in one of three ways:
1. Drilled through the spine and threaded through a piece of rope or length of chain, and then hung on the cage.
2. Put in the bottom of the cage – perhaps with pages folded up for intrigue.
3. Simply hung on top of the cage with pages reaching through the cage bars – if your cage bars allow this.
For those of us suffering with smaller phone books, drilling through the spine can be downright tricky, if not almost impossible. But I’ve found a solution to phonebook woes, thanks to the Facebook group The Parrot’s Workshop. Their idea requires just these simple supplies from your closest hardware store:
- 1 stainless steel bolt, 3.5 inches long with a 3/8 thread
- 1 stainless steel nut, 3/8 thread
- 2 stainless steel washers, 3/8 hole size
- 1 wing nut – 3/8 thread
- A drill
- A phonebook, or two, or three
Assembly time: 10 minutes or less
First, drill through however many phonebooks you can thread onto the bolt. I recommend drilling through the MIDDLE of the phonebook – it is a lot easier than attempting to drill through the spine.
Remember to drill on a hard surface. If your birds go through phonebooks quickly, drill a few extra so you can quickly refill this toy.
Second, thread the phonebooks onto the bolt. Now place the nut on the bolt and screw until you are at the end of the threads. See how easy this is?
Third, attach to the cage, with the bolt end inside the cage. The end with the nut will be touching the side of the cage. Place a washer in front of the nut. Place between the cage bars. Place the other washer on the outside of the cage bars. Now, take your wing nut and screw securely and tightly to the cage. Make sure the bolt is steady and isn’t bending your cage bars. You want to confirm the stability of the bolt since your bird will probably attempt to use it as a perch.
Fourth, sit back and watch your bird go to town! Lucky, my blue and gold macaw, was thrilled and made short work (and a big mess) of her phone book. But thankfully the mess is contained inside her cage.
If you run out of phone books or catalogs, you can also use the above method to attach cardboard boxes, toy parts, coffee filters – almost anything! Maybe even a 2000 page bill that no Congressman reads! Feel free to use a smaller bolt for smaller birds.