Wild budgies chew on leaves, bark, and sticks to wear down and sharpen their beaks. Pine cones are abrasive, all-natural chew toys liked by budgies (parakeets).
Once they’ve been soaked and baked, pine cones are safe, healthy, and entertaining chew toys for budgies. They have woody scales that make them easy to peck, gnaw, and toss around.
Also, each pine cone has an edible seed that’s a favorite food for wild budgies.
However, if pine cones aren’t sterilized properly, they may contain mold, bacteria, and harmful insects. Also, the sap, when thick and dripping, can irritate a budgie’s feathers and skin.
So, thoroughly clean and bake pine cones before putting them inside a budgie’s cage.
Can Budgies Play With Pine Cones?
According to Iowa State University, most bird species, including budgies, instinctively chew, shred, and play with objects. This enables them to wear down their beaks and exercise their jaws.
Pine cones have ridges that budgies enjoy prying at with their beaks. Even pecking at the surface will be a fun and enjoyable experience for budgies since the abrasive texture provides resistance.
Pine cones serve as free shredding toys that can be thrown around, gnawed, or torn apart on the cage floor. They’re also easy to break into small pieces, so the risk of choking is minimized.
Of course, you need to ensure that pine cones are sterilized before your budgie gets ahold of them.
Can Budgies Eat Pine Cones?
According to The American Federation of Agriculture, pine seeds have a creamy and gentle taste. They’re a tasty snack for budgies because they contain edible pine seeds that are highly nutritious.
Eating pine cones is safe, as long as the cones don’t contain contaminants, such as mold and bacteria.
A further risk is certain insects, such as the following:
- Cone weevils
- Cone beetles
- Shield bugs
Soaking and baking pine cones will remove insects and harmful elements that make birds sick.
Can Pine Cones Supplement Budgie’s Diet?
Here are some ways to offer pine cones to budgies:
Natural Cone Feeder
You can use pine cones and suet to make a natural bird feeder by following these steps:
- Put wax paper beneath the pine cone
- Tie a string around it
- Spread suet over the pine cone with a spatula
- Extract any pine seeds from the cone
- Spread them on wax paper
Once these preliminaries have been completed, you can move to the application stage:
- Roll the cone over the paper to stick the cone seeds onto the surface and inside the crevices.
- Raise the edges of the wax paper to move the remaining cone seeds to the center of the paper.
- Roll the cone over the paper again to ensure it’s fully coated.
Just hang the feeder inside the cage, and the budgie can peck at the seeds, suet, and cone.
Put Food Between Pine Crevices
Stuff assorted vegetable leaves and fruits between the cone’s notches and layers.
As the budgie naturally shreds the cone, it’ll find stuffed nuts and seeds. For extra flavor, try adding berries or bits of leafy greens.
Pine Cone Safety Considerations
According to the California Poison Control System, the pine tree is considered non-toxic among various tree species. However, if pine cones aren’t properly cleaned and sterilized, they can pose a health risk.
Never give a budgie a pine cone that you’ve found outdoors for the following reasons:
Avoid giving budgies pine cones that have a sticky, dripping sap. The sap can stick to your budgie’s skin and feathers, causing damage and irritation.
Your budgie will preen endlessly to get rid of the sticky sap. If it sticks too firmly, it may cause budgies to compromise their skin and pluck feathers.
While the baking process doesn’t remove the sap, it melts and sticks to the pine cone. This gives them a shiny, glazed appearance.
Conifer trees that grow in polluted environments may be unsafe for birds. Ensure that any pine cones given to budgies have no pesticides or toxic chemicals on them, such as industrial waste.
Mold and Bacteria
Once they fall to the ground, pine cones attract mold spores, bacteria, fungi, and bugs.
Moist conditions assist the growth of molds and fungi. Aspergillus is listed as a common type of mold that can cause aspergillosis in budgies, leading to death in birds.
Can You Collect Pine Cones for Budgies?
Pine cones should be gathered in the early autumn between the end of September and the beginning of October. Collect them as soon as they fall on the ground before the onset of any October rain.
During rainy seasons, pine cones are likely to get soaked, causing them to decay faster. If the pine cones stay on the ground for longer, they may be compromised by bacteria, fungi, and moss spores.
How To Sterilize Pine Cones
Here’s how to prepare pine cones for your budgies:
- Remove dirt and debris that’s stuck to the pine cone’s surface.
- Put the pine cones in a bucket or kitchen sink filled with hot water.
- Let the cones soak for 60 minutes.
- Rinse each cone thoroughly using hot, running water
- Spread the cones out in the open sun for drying
To ensure proper sterilization, conduct a second cleaning method by baking the pine cones. Baking kills all remaining bugs and dries out excessive sap left inside the pine cone.
Follow these steps when baking pine cones:
- Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil to prevent sap from dripping onto the baking tray.
- Put the baking tray inside a pre-heated oven and set the temperature to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Monitor the baking process to ensure the pine cones don’t get scorched.
- Bake the pine cones for about 25 minutes.
- Turn off your oven and remove the pine cones to prevent excessive dryness.
- Allow the pine cones to cool for several hours.
Pine cones are safe for budgies, provided they’re collected at the right time and prepared properly. Discard any damaged and compromised pine cones before commencing the sterilization process.