Guest Author - Heather Thomas
Birds are curious by nature. It is possible to increase your birdís activity level and enrichment by including foraging components in their regular feeding routine. Include more than one component or ideally rotate them to maintain interest.
Foraging toys are becoming more common. These toys typically have compartments that your bird must trigger or operate in order to find the treat inside. They come in different sizes to accommodate the size of your bird. Barrel of fun, skewers and food cages are all very commonly used. Modern technology has also made it possible to have non-destructible clear plastic toys where the food is visible inside to keep your birdís interest. Placing foods you want your bird to eat such as greens or sprouts in a foraging cage or on a skewer may be just encouragement they need to eat their veggies.
Certain foods in their natural state can also serve a purpose similar to foraging toys. They must be foods your bird has to work at to eat, corn on the cob and in-the-shell nuts are good examples of this type of food. Nuts, dried fruit, and crunchy treats are best used inside foraging toys due to the fact that they are non-perishable. This is important because there is always the chance that your bird may not immediately find the morsels you hide. If the treat remains undiscovered for a significant amount of time these types of treats will not spoil and endanger the health of your bird.
In addition to food, it is natural for birds to pull apart and shred items for nest building and simply for fun. Tough plastic boxes can be purchased with strategic holes placed for pulling its contents out. These contents can include strips of leather or paper. Often the contents can be picked up and used to refill the foraging box. Do not reuse them if they have become soiled by bird droppings or wet food. Small foot toys can also be used to fill foraging toys. Size appropriate toys should be selected depending on what type of bird you own.
In addition to store-bought foraging options, items such as tissue boxes and toilet paper rolls make inexpensive holders for your birdís foraging pleasure. If your bird starts treating boxes like a nest, remove them and use other options. It is always best to rotate foraging toys to keep your bird from becoming bored or too attached to one single toy.
Foraging toys not only stimulate your birdís brain but they provide exercise and keep your bird from becoming bored. Bored birds have a tendency to turn to undesirable behaviors such as destructive chewing, feather mutilation or excessive screaming. To keep your bird happy and healthy provide an environment rich in positive stimulation.