The fun and educational site for parrot loving kids of all ages!

Foraging

CR WORK FOR FOODDid you know that researchers have determined that parrots prefer to work for their food even when food is readily available in a bowl? This indicates that foraging is a behavioral need of parrots.

In the wild, parrots spend up to 70% of their day searching for food.  Our birds are hardwired to perform at this level of physical activity and mental engagement.  Contrast the way they spend their day in the wild with the typical "fast food" lifestyle that most pet birds experience. Each day their food is neatly delivered to them, often nicely chopped up, in a bowl. Hmmm, so how are they supposed to spend the rest of their day?

Lack of activity leads to boredom which often results in frustration and abnormal, self-destructive behaviors such as feather picking. It is possible to avoid these problems by feedin gyour bird using a variety of foraging devices. Hiding food in various locations throughout the cage will keep them busy, challenge their minds, stimulate their curiosity and make eating more fun.

Transitioning to a foraging based feeding scenario should occur in stages. You don't want to require your bird to have master safecracker credentials to be able to eat. The initial goal is to stimulate your bird's curiosity and get him moving throughout his cage in search of food.

  • Continue to provide your bird's regular diet in his usual bowl.
  • Start by placing treats and their favorite foods within multiple bowls spread high and low throughout the cage.
  • Once your bird catches on to the idea of moving, searching and retrieving items, increase the complexity of the task.
  • Hide the food by loosely covering the cups with paper. The paper can be taped down when this gets too easy for your bird.
  • You can also start off with easy homemade devices such as Dixie cups, small paper bags or cardboard tubes that can easily be crumpled around the treats.
  • Let your bird observe the placement of treats in these devices and demonstrate their retrieval.
  • Progress to puzzle oriented toys that require problem solving and manipulation such as opening hatches, turning compartments, opening drawers, unscrewing hardware or shredding material to gain access to the food.

Print Email

Cleaning Tips

Recommended Cage Cleaning Routine

Daily

    • Change cage liner to remove droppings and spoiled foods and minimize opportunity for bacterial and mold growth.
    • Wash food and water bowls with hot soapy water.
    • Perform a quick wipe of the cage surface with a damp cloth.

Weekly

    • Remove grate and tray and scrub them in a washtub with hot soapy water and disinfect them with a bird safe cleaner.
    • Scrape droppings off perches and toys.
    • Sanitize the water and food bowls in the dishwasher.
    • During the cleaning process, inspect toys and cage for potential safety issues.

Quarterly

    • Take the cage outside and thoroughly scrub the cage from top to bottom including all the nooks and crannies.
    • Wipe down all of the surfaces to remove water and let the cage air dry in the sun.
    • If left to dry, fecal matter can easily become airborne contaminates which can be inhaled by your parrot as well as yourself.

 

Helpful Cleaning Hints

    • Keep moistened wipes on hand to clean poop before it dries
    • Pre-soak dried on poop to make it easier to wipe off
    • Place washable floor mats under all cages to protect your flooring.
    • Have an extra set of food and water dishes available.
    • Buy custom pre-cut cage bottom liners & stack several in the cage bottom so you can quickly remove the top soiled layer & have a fresh one automatically in place.
    • Install an electronic air filtration system to cut down on dust and dander buildup.
    • A few minutes spent daily on cleaning tasks will reduce the mess and time required for weekend chores.
    • Hang sheets or use washable paint to protect the walls behind your bird's cage.
    • Use a scraper to clean off perches and cage bars.
    • Use seed guards and cage skirts to minimize fallout from the cage.

Print Email

Bathing Tips

Helpful tips and reminders related to bird baths:

  • CR HYGENE SHOWERProvide bathing opportunities daily or at least a minimum of three times per week. Bathing promotes healthy skin and feathers.
  • Bathe more frequently in dryer months to maintain a healthy respiratory system. Our winter heating systems result in very low indoor humidity levels which are unhealthy for our birds.
  • Bathe your parrot companion during the warmest part of the day so the bird will dry before the temperature falls.
  • Always use luke warm to slightly cool water to avoid burns or shocking your bird's system.
  • Never drench your bird’s feathers because they can lose precious body heat.
  • Make a game of bathing time. If you are enjoying yourself, your bird will likely enjoy himself. In our house we always sing the made up song "It's Birdie Bathy Time" (sung to the old time favorite Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay) inserting each bird's name as we move from cage to cage with the mister. Everyone including mom ends up dancing and having a good time.
  • Many birds are instinctually stimulated into bathing activity by the sound of a vacuum running. Perhaps the sound is reminiscent of a rainstorm in the tropics?
  • If you have an outdoor aviary, an outdoor misting system is a great alternative on a warm sunny day.
  • If your bird really gets soiled or greasy you may want to use a bird safe shampoo to help restore your bird's feathers. Consult with your avian vet on the best way to proceed depending on the contaminant and always read the product label and follow the instructions provided.
  • Avoid human bathing and shampooing products as they can strip the special preening oils your bird possesses.
  • Some birds love getting a blow dry after taking a bath but it's not necessary or even recommended. Make sure that the temperature setting on the hair dryer isn't too high.
  • If using a birdbath, pan or bowl of water in your bird's cage, remove it when the bathing is complete and replace any wet cage bedding below to prevent mold growth.

Print Email

Play Time

CR CHEWING TOYPlay is a natural behavior in the wild for parrots.  In our homes, play is even more important to our birds because they do not have a normal outlet for many of the tasks that would otherwise keep them busy in the wild like foraging and survival.

Birds in the wild engage in several different kinds of play including play with objects, balancing games, play that involves movement and social play with other birds like chase me or pretend fighting.

Playing isn't just for fun though.  Through play, a young parrot learns a lot about his physical abilities, his flock mates and his environment and this results in a more confident and less fearful bird.

Play offers many benefits to our pet birds, it:

  • helps to develop coordination and dexterity
  • fosters physical health by encouraging movement
  • enhances emotional well-being
    • play reduces boredom
    • provides mental stimulation
    • helps you to build a stronger bond with your bird (social play)
  • makes behavioral problems like screaming, biting and feather plucking less likely

We can give our birds opportunites for play by:

  • providing suitable toys that promote chewing, foraging, exploration and exercise (learn how to make toys for your bird)
  • playing games with our birds like peek-a-boo, hide and seek, chase me (social and motion play)
  • singing and dancing with our birds (acoustic and balancing/movement play)

Print Email