Watchbird January 2022


Papercraft Toys

By Constance Woodman, PhD. Conservation Grants Manager, Texas A&M University

Once, my African grey parrot hen got stuck inside a loop of chain. She chewed away a circle of pine wood squares while I was work. When I came home, I found my bird frozen in panic, the chain around her chest, slowly spinning from the c - clip! Luckily, I had two pairs of pliers and was able to open one of the chain links and free my bird. After that, I have been very careful about loops and strings in bird toys. Paper bird toys allow for safer play. Long and thin strips of paper tear before they can wrap up and tan- gle or choke a bird. Ring and donut shapes, or shapes with cut out holes, are also safer. When the bird puts a head or leg through an opening, the pa- per will give way when the bird tries to pull it off. Similar shapes made of metal, plastic, or cotton

be cut with a paper cutter and used for foraging. Easy to fold boxes with fun cut - out shapes on the lids may be for candy in the eyes of a paper crafter but they are prime foraging boxes to me!

Design for the pop up foraging basket

Paper cutting craft machines are becoming popular and more affordable. The Cricut Joy, a mini paper cutting machine, costs $122 USD. Using these ma- chines, people normally make pop up cards, scrap- book frames, or t - shirt iron - ons. I use my paper cut- ting machine to make bird toys! Choosing a machine can be about the features of the paper cutting machine or about their design soft- ware. I have a Silhouette brand machine because I liked their software more than the Cricut brand ’ s software. Tracing images from the internet is very fast and easy to do on the Silhouette software ’ s free version. The company charges extra to be able to open a common drawing filetype called an SVG, requiring you to buy the paid for version of their software. The Cricut company ’ s free design soft- ware can open SVG files. However, it is more com- plicated to trace images and clipart using Cricut. Cricut pushes users to buy their paid subscription to do certain kinds of tracing.

string can pose a real danger. A benefit of pop - up or folding paper toys is that hundreds can lay flat in a drawer without taking much space. When it is time to use the toys, they are hung, popped up, or stretched open. Fold - and - serve foraging boxes have been for sale for a long time. Caitec ’ s Creative Foraging Systems has a plastic frame that holds cardboard boxes. With my paper cutter I can make custom boxes out of harder cardboard or softer paper, depending on how heavy birds are chewing. Searching online for “ treat box pattern ” will show all kinds of example that can This paper foraging basket tore safely into pieces after the baby bird wrestled with it, without trapping a foot or head.

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