Raising Rocko Our Baby Toco Toucan: Teaching Your Bird to Self Entertain

Photo by Jamieleigh
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Lookin’ tall: Toco Toucan “Rocko”

Lately Dave and I have become more and more aware about what we do to raise birds and form and shape their eventually adult personalities and traits. It has been a lot of fun jotting it all down when it comes to Rocko and sharing every moment (or so I like to think and try!) with all of you to learn from and sometimes just share in.


But more recent we’ve become aware of how we have been raising Rocko in a way that he self entertains really well. For example, in the RV when we take a nap he understands that it’s nap time and goes up to the sink faucet and sleeps along with us. Once we start to stir, so does he, and once we start moving he wakes and makes his squeaky toy noises too letting us know he’s awake from his nap too!


If we stir and then go back to sleep, he does the same. If one of us wakes while the other sleeps, he wakes with the first person and goes to wake the second.


We hardly ever keep him in his travel cage in the RV because he knows where to go to tell us what he wants. He self entertains really well in the RV by going to the bed if he wants to play with us. Which usually means one of us or both will play with him or give him things to play with. The rest of the time he will play around by himself all around the sink area/faucet where he sleeps at night and eats during the day. Since his metabolism is so fast, he is pretty much hungry every few minutes it seems and so that keeps him around the sink area where his fruit and pellets are.


Photo by Jamieleigh
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Pictured: Toco Toucan “Rocko”


The key to teaching your bird to self entertain is providing enrichment to him to keep him busy and playful, but also his “own time” on top of that where he has lots to do and his own space and time to himself to do it.


One of the things we did with Rocko was introduce play balls to him that are somewhat squishy. He loved the texture, and he loves to play catch, so he would play with the balls (after we taught him they weren’t giant pieces of fruit) and when we were done playing ball with him, we would put them on top of his travel cage and they were the only thing provided to him so naturally he’d pick at them and pull them through the bars and play with them on his own.


Once he understood playing we gave him a big toy in his travel cage to pick at with tons of things inside of it and it was metal so it would make noise, too. He could jump on it and push it around and pull at the stuff inside. Food finding toys are super important for birds since they all spend most of their time in the wild looking for food. When we provide it in a dish they have nothing to do. Just like we all feel better when we have a ‘task’ and complete it… like kids and puzzles early on… everyone likes to feel like they are doing something with their time, accomplishing something, and we all want to enjoy the process and then we all want to play with no expectations. Birds all need and want that too.


It’s up to us to provide it since we’re their caretakers so the more creative you can get the better, but the more your bird learns to self entertain the better because it won’t be so dependent on you for entertainment. Almost all birds that pluck (where it isn’t because of medical conditions) do it because they have nothing else to do and were never taught to self entertain.


Just as you would teach a toddler to complete a puzzle or how to work a certain toy is how you go about teaching your bird too. Stay fully stocked on enrichment items – whether you use household toys or order them online, or go to your local bird store… I like to have a month or so on hand for rotation. Change it up and work with your bird on this – you won’t be sorry.

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