From budgies to macaws, all pet birds have a “wild” side. In the jungle, they spend most of their time looking for and preparing food. Parrots range far and wide to make use of the wide variety of foods needed to survive. They crack seeds and nuts, strip bark, root out insects, and even scavenge dead meat. Compare this to the food-dish fed parrot, able to meet their nutritional needs in five minutes at the “drive-through window”. This can result in boredom, which often leads to so many of the common behaviour problems we see with our birds.
Concern for this level of boredom has lead to a revolution in aviculture, called “Foraging”. Instead of just filling the dish with food, many bird owners find ways to make their birds “work” for their supper. While food should continue to be offered in the dish, you can encourage foraging in a variety of ways. Start by offering multiple food dishes with small amounts of food, or mixing in large plastic or wood beads that your bird has to sort through to find food.
Many retailers sell toys with multiple compartments for foraging, but the toys you already have can also become foraging toys by stuffing the nooks and crannies with food. The creative parrot owner may also make their own toys using paper, egg cartons, or boxes (clean please). Using a variety of these methods will keep your parrots entertained for hours, without taking a chunk out of your schedule or your budget.