BEHAVIOR CONCEPTS: Use the Positive Approach
FORAGING and ENRICHMENT
It is estimated parrots spend 50-70% of their day in the wild foraging for food. This involves searching for available sources, choosing the most desirable items, and then manipulating the chosen food with their feet and beaks. How does your parrot spend the day? To get your bird started foraging, try using skewers or placing bowls in different locations. Cover bowls with butcher paper, put treats in paper bags, or hide that special nut in a puzzle toy.
Go organic and give your parrot a job. When produce is free of pesticides and fertilizers, then your parrot can do the peeling. Food that is free of growth hormones or antibiotics is also safer for your parrot’s long-term health. Teach your parrot to try new foods in addition to daily staples. Make mealtimes a flock-family occasion and enjoy fun times together. Just being together without overpetting is one of the best ways to enjoy companionship with each other. For more ideas, go to the Parrot's Workshop page on Facebook, or enjoy Kris Porter's Enrichment Activity Book from her Web site at www.ParrotEnrichment.com. Another great site for enrichment info and ideas is avianenrichment.com
Parrots need stimulating interaction from their environment. They also benefit from activities which promote exercise. Try teaching birds to:
* Whistle or wave on cue.
* Eat with a spoon, drink from a cup, or other fun behaviors that also help come medicine time.
* Flap, turn somersaults, dance or jump for much needed, good exercise.
To encourage parrots to interact and have fun, try to:
* Play peek-a-boo behind a towel to make the towel less threatening to your bird; or playing “where’s parrot?” with a small mirror.
* Sing to them, especially songs with their names; imitate each other, copy what your bird says.
* Whisper things like “parrot” which helps reduce screaming too.
* Play a catch game. Many birds will throw objects back to you with little training.
* Play real estate: take your bird around the house and show her each room. This helps decrease anxiety by exploring the surrounding “territory.”
* Spend mealtimes together. For birds in the wild, this is their most social time.
* Train husbandry behaviors like going into a carrier, filing nails or going onto a scale.
* Go for a walk in the neighborhood in a safe travel carrier, or for a fun ride in the car.
* Visit a friend and take your parrot along for the outing and some social interaction. Fresh air and sunshine is good for all of us.