Did you know, birds spend up to 70% of their time in the wild foraging for food? It’s no wonder why domesticated birds get bored easily sitting in their cages with their food readily accessible, there’s no challenge, no excitement.
In the wild they must not only find food, but find a way to access it, whether this is cracking open shells, peeling fruit, hunting insects, or even stealing the odd hot chip from humans.
Each of these activities stimulates a bird’s foraging instincts and prevents boredom because they have a task to do.
If you keep birds as a pet, it’s important to know that your bird’s boredom can lead to destructive behaviour, frustration, bullying and even feather picking.
So, what can we do to help?
The Importance of Foraging Toys for Birds | Understand that they are wild animals
You may have bought your bird from a pet store or reputable breeder, and they may be a domesticated breed, however, birds are not like traditional domesticated pets, such as cats and dogs.
A bird’s natural instincts are still very much at the forefront of its behaviour. The need to nest, find food, reproduce, and escape from danger. When we keep them in a cage, it stops them from being able to perform these natural reactions and habits, therefore they need us as their owners to provide them with alternative ways to occupy their time and energy.
The Importance of Foraging Toys for Birds | Offer a variety of foods
When deciding to create a foraging-friendly diet for your bird, don’t completely change your bird’s food source, ensure they still have their regular food as well.
Start small by giving them options with their treats.
- Pasta (cooked or raw)
Are they all favoured by bird owners worldwide? Offer them to your bird in unique ways, through puzzles, toys and even as a reward for tricks.
The Importance of Foraging Toys for Birds | Build foraging devices and toys
Foraging devices can be an excellent way to stimulate your bird’s mind. There are plenty available to buy, but if you’re feeling creative, you can always try a DIY project that can adapt to your bird’s personality and challenge level.
Some great DIY options include,
- Hiding their treats – allow them to use their creativity and intelligence to find them.
- Place food at different heights and locations in their cage.
- Create a foraging tray and bury some treats under some small, washed pebbles/rocks so they can sift and dig through them to find the treats.
- Place treats beneath objects – toys, plastic cups, paper, and other items which are easily moveable.
- Use a baffle cage.
- Creating a foraging ice block
- Hide treats in their interactive toys (pinatas, rope toys, etc.)
Once your bird has mastered these, make them slightly harder. Your only limit is your imagination. Have a look online, there are millions of options out there to keep your feathered friend occupied.
Watching your bird use their problem-solving skills can be as entertaining to watch as it is for them to perform. Just remember to spark their curiosity, and your bird will continue to live a long and happy life.