The Benefits of Foraging for Pet Birds
Birds in the wild spend a large portion of their day foraging for their next meal. It is instinctive behaviour that involved searching and finding resources, climbing, extracting food items by manipulating, chewing and handling what they find. Companion birds, however, are usually given their food inside of bowls which is a huge missed opportunity for enrichment.
What is Foraging?
Foraging is the offering of food in such a way that your bird must actively find its food and develop methods for obtaining access to that food source. Think of how dog owners put their dog's food inside of KONG toys and balls; foraging for birds is the same concept!
We highly recommend including foraging opportunities in your bird’s daily routine. Those that introduce foraging to their pet usually notice they are happier and that unwanted behaviours such as biting, excessive squawking and in some cases even feather plucking are reduced.
Ditch the bowl and hide food throughout their cage inside of foraging toys. Whilst your bird is working on finding and extracting the food from their toys, their mental stimulation is going through the roof, boredom is being fought-off and your pet is less likely to be exhibiting unwanted behaviours. Birds find foraging extremely satisfying as it is a instinctual behaviour that's a routine for them in their natural habitat.
Start simple for beginner foragers and work your way up to more complex toys so your bird does not get frustrated.
There are many, many types of foraging toys, ranging from metal to acrylic. Cardboard toys can also be utilised as foraging toys and are lots of fun to shred and tear up.
Beginner Foraging Toys
Some toys for young birds & birds that haven’t had foraging toys before:
Advanced Foraging Toys
Some of our favourite toys for more advanced birds:
Ground Foraging 101
Great for Native Parrots such as Budgies, Cockatiels, Galahs & Cockatoos
Many Aussie native parrots spend a lot of time foraging on the ground. Place some natural substrate (100% recycled paper kitty litter) in a tray on the bottom of your bird’s cage and hide seeds, nuts and other treats in it to keep your bird entertained for hours! You can also put pellets in the foraging tray – foraging doesn’t only have to be for treats and other yummy tid-bits.
Treat Tip – Don’t overfeed seed!
Did you know that a diet consisting mostly of seeds and nuts lacks many vitamins and minerals and is very high in fat? This can lead to obesity and other serious health complications over time. Ensure your bird is offered pellets and a variety of fresh produce in addition to a smaller portion of seed. Birds will often work very hard for the seed portion of their diet, so use this to your advantage and hide the seed in the more difficult toys!
Note: Often birds that are only used to eating seed do not take to pellets straight away. Pellets should be introduced slowly.
Alternative Foraging Fillers
Here are some other edible things you can add to your foraging toys or tray:
Tip: How to Turn a Food Bowl into a Foraging Funhouse!
Place a small amount of food in your parrot’s food bowl and bury it with paper kitty litter, shredded paper or another bird safe material. You can even seal the food bowl shut with some white paper, paper towel or newspaper to make it more difficult. Your feathery friend will have to chew and dig their way through to get to the goods!
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