Enrichment Techniques for Birds
By Christopher Stancel, DVM
- Birds are highly intelligent and active animals. In the wild they are constantly moving around, looking for food, interacting with each other as well as objects in their environment. Recreating this behavior in captivity is essential to a happy life for your avian pet.
- Provide a TV or Radio especially if you will not be home for some time. The calming sound of the radio or TV provides audible sounds as well as visual cues for entertainment. This is a great way to provide entertainment as well as the potential to increase your bird's vocabulary.
- Provide a variety of safe toys that are specifically made for birds. These can be made from ropes, rawhide, wood, and plastic. Some may include bells, beads or mirrors. Choose the most appropriate toys for the specific type(s) of bird(s) you own. Safety is the most important thing to remember and be sure there are no small parts that your pet may ingest or lose string that your pet can get a toenail caught on. It is also important to remember to rotate through different toys every two to three weeks so your bird doesn't become bored with a particular toy. Some of the original toys can be placed back into the rotation as long they are alternated from time to time.
- Some household items can be used as some basic forms of toys for your pet birds. Things such as paper, empty paper towel or toilet paper tubes can be used to provide things for your birds to chew on. Again, safety is the key and monitor your birds closely to ensure they are not ingesting anything given for t hem to chew on.
- Foraging Techniqueso In the wild birds have to look for or even in some cases hunt for their food. In captivity, we provide their food and water in convenient bowls that makes it easy for them to find their food. Again, this lack of activity can lead to boredom in your pet bird. By mimicking this foraging behavior that naturally occurs in the normal life style of our pet birds, you will be providing such activity that will stimulate their natural behavior.
o This can essentially be done by hiding your birds food in easy to discover locations in their at home environment. This can be achieved by putting food inside covered bowls, empty paper towel or toilet paper tubes, inside specifically designed treat holders made for birds where they have to figure out how to get the food out of the holder. This "Hide ‘n Seek" technique for feeding your birds will provide both foraging behavior as well as environmental enrichment with a tasty surprise in the end.
Keeping these intelligent beautiful animals busy, entertained and active is a crucial part to providing them with long healthy and more importantly happy lives!