Keeping Your Bird Busy

Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Lacey, WA Pictured: From left; Galah "Bandit", CAG "Cressi" and top Galah "Bondi"

Back in October I stayed at my brother in law's house for two days at the end of the month. I was traveling with my entire flock at the time and had three medium sized birds with me. Two rose breasted cockatoos (Bondi and Bandit) and one Congo African Grey Parrot (Cressi). Because I was traveling, everyone was in travel cages and for the two days I was in Lacey, Washington, I really wanted to let them out into a larger cage. The only problem was... there was just one cage to spare at his house. So which bird would I choose to come out of his crowded travel cage and into a spacious stationary cage? Of course I could not choose just one bird of my three!   So, I chose them all.

The problem then was... Bandit loves Bondi, Bondi doesn't love Bandit and Cressi is the dominant bird of all three. I knew I was going to have trouble sleeping at night. Cressi and Bondi have been properly socialized but Bandit has only been socialized to the extent of flying in spacious rooms with the others. Bandit has also flown outside with Cressi but never in the same direction. So their socialization training was a bit all over the map!   Luckily for me, my brother in law just had a huge order of new foraging toys come in to his house! (Unlucky for him since he ended up having to order more.)  

With his help, I put all three birds in the cage at the same time at different spots to get rid of any type of "territorial" dominance. None of them had been in this cage before and not only was the cage foreign, but so was the room, the house and the city and state! The only thing familiar to them was each other which is what I believe made it so easy for them to get along for the short period it was needed of them in such a small proximity of space.   I observed them all for a while, nervous someone was going to pick a fight or accidentally make the other upset. I provided plenty of perches and plenty of places for extra food and water dishes, then I filled each and everyone one of the foraging toys with their favorite treats and their regular organic pellet diet, too.

I make sure to fill a foraging toy in front of each one of the birds and then place it closest to that bird. This did one simple yet clever thing: it made that bird feel like it was the only one of the three who knew there were yummy treats inside that bird toy. So they spent all their time getting them while the others thought the same about theirs and each focused on their own.  

When I came back to the cage later on in the day, the foraging toys were completely destroyed and each bird was sitting on a different perch with one foot up relaxing after their hard earned meal!   It really demonstrated how important it is to keep your birds busy throughout the day even just so they can get along with other birds in their area and respect one another's space. For the most part, Bondi stayed near the top of the cage while Bandit and Cressi would take either the left/right side of the cage opposite each other or Cressi would take the front of the cage while Bandit used the middle. What a learning experience! Another point for foraging toys.

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.

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