Enrichment

 

A topic that has received a lot of attention in the last few years is enrichment for all our various pet species. This is especially relevant for our pet birds.

 

When we consider birds in their normal “wild” habitat, they have masses of space. Many species are extremely social, in some cases there are large flocks to interact with. Essential activities such as finding enough food & water takes up a lot of the wild birds day foraging. The need to be aware of predators and dangerous situations also supplies a fair amount of mental stimulation.

 

Many of our birds live in smallish cages with very little in the way of the above mentioned stimulation and a very large amount of free time to fill themselves. 

 

Enrichment for your bird can take various forms.

 

Foraging is the first area to discuss. This is the activity that takes up the most time in the wild.

Replicating this to a degree is enormously beneficial. Different foods at different times in different places is a good starting point. Having a big selection of foods all fed together firstly allows free choice and the potential nutritional issues with self chosen favorite foods rather than a balanced diet, as well as no need to move about looking for anything.

 

Foraging can be enhanced with hiding foodstuffs in or under things. Many foraging toys are available for this purpose. Making your own is a fairly simple and cheap alternative. Using old toilet roll cardboard or a small cardboard box to wrap special items in or hiding items deep in old very dried pine cones works well. Drilling holes in soft untreated wood as hiding holes is another alternative. This allows the bird to spend time pulling the cover apart or chew up the wood component  to get to the tasty  bits underneath. Part filling the boxes or toilet rolls with shredded paper to create extra searching time. With pine cones make sure they are old and dry with no resins left as these may damage plumage and even cause gastric upsets.

 

I recently saw a simple trick of placing a few seeds into a flat piece of cardboard and the bird concerned chewed up the cardboard to find and eat the treat even though he had a bowl with some seeds right next to him at the time. The important thing is for the bird to learn to start looking. Someone who has been only bowl fed for years is not going to think to search new toys to try and find food/treats so needs to be shown what is being hidden. A starting point can even be just hiding a few bits of  food in his/her normal bowl and covering with bits of paper. As they learn to search, the process can be extended to more varied types and degrees of hiding.

 

Remember that your bird will learn as you add and change things up and this in itself is a very beneficial psychological benefit for your baby.

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35 Saltfleet Street, Port Noarlunga, SA 5167