Taking a Stand
Play stands are necessary items for birds, as they provide space to let loose with toys and climbing items that are different from those in the cage.
One of the most fascinating experiences I’ve had was watching a small, wild group of mealy Amazon parrots playing in the treetops in the Peruvian rainforest. Each bird had it’s own way of having some fun, but usually this would include yelling, flapping and teasing each other. Some of the birds would hang upside down, flapping crazily, sometimes to the point where they’d lose their grip and fall off. My own yellow-nape Amazon would do the same thing on his play stand, though he would only fall to the base of the stand while the wild birds had enough space to fly back up to their group.
Play is important for all intelligent species. For many years, however, biologists believed that animals were not actually “playing” in the wild but practicing survival skills, instead. In fact, before the 70s, the word “anthropomorphic,” which means giving human traits to animals, was thrown at anyone who believed an animal capable of having fun without any purpose. This all changed as scientific papers and books began to prove that, in fact, animals do play. Without a doubt, anyone who owns a parrot knows that they love to have fun. It’s one of the main reasons parrots make such interesting and great pets.
The best way for a parrot owner to give their pet a chance to really let loose and have fun is to provide a play area outside of their cage. This can usually be accomplished with a play stand. There are two reasons why play stands are so important, especially for the larger species of parrots. First, although a birdcage may be big and offer many toys and diversions for a pet parrot, it is doubtful that the cage is large enough for a bird to flap about crazily, as they like to do. Second, parrots can get bored being in the same environment all the time and need the stimulation that a new area can give, even if it is on top of their cage. Therefore, play stands, gyms, trees and playpens should be sold to every parrot owner.
Making the Sale
The best way to show parrot owners how important it is for them to offer their pet a play area outside their cage is to have parrots in the store put out on play stands. When this is not possible, then play stands, gyms and pens in a variety of sizes and styles should be displayed outside the box and completely assembled to encourage owners to buy them. Include a sign stating that every parrot needs a separate play area, and tell employees that a play stand must be sold with every medium to large parrot purchase. This will make it clear to everyone that this item should not be considered an option, but a necessity.
If a customer is resistant to buying a separate play stand, offer them a cage that includes a play area built into the top. A number of these cages should be stocked and displayed to give the customer options. These cages are great in that not only do they benefit the parrot in terms of mental and physical health, they also help keep the need for space, both at the store and home, to a minimum.
Many types of play areas in lots of great styles and sizes are available, and they are made with a number of different materials, such as metal, wood, plastic and rope. When choosing a play stand, it’s important to consider both the size of the play stand and the size and species of the bird. For example, some parrots love to climb, so a hanging play area may be a better choice than a standing one.
To keep parrots healthy and happy, they need to be able to play in their own way. Like kids, each parrot has its own personality. Some birds may be quite quiet, while others are very energetic, yet both will benefit greatly having a separate play area with toys and climbing items that are different from those in their cage. Parrots are extremely intelligent creatures and must be given fun diversions to keep them from getting bored and developing bad behaviors. With my yellow-nape, not only would he hang upside down on his play stand, he would also take a wooden hammer-shaped toy and smack it into himself, yelling and flapping like mad the whole time. He would get so crazy and involved, he’d fall right off the perch, making me question his “intelligence,” especially when he’d climb up and start all over again.
Robyn Bright has a master’s degree in parrot biology and more than 25 years of pet retailing experience.