In primates, complex object combinations during play are often regarded as precursors of functional behavior. Here we investigate combinatory behaviors during unrewarded object manipulation in seven parrot species, including kea, African grey parrots and Goffin cockatoos, three species previously used as model species for technical problem solving. We further examine a habitually tool using species, the black palm cockatoo. Moreover, we incorporate three neotropical species, the yellow- and the black-billed Amazon and the burrowing parakeet. Paralleling previous studies on primates and corvids, free object-object combinations and complex object-substrate combinations such as inserting objects into tubes/holes or stacking rings onto poles prevailed in the species previously linked to advanced physical cognition and tool use. In addition, free object-object combinations were intrinsically structured in Goffin cockatoos and in kea.