How do toys compliment a bird’s food?

African grey parrot eating pellet bird food in front of a mechanical bird foraging toy
Read in 6 minutes

A clear theme that emerges after reading endless threads on Facebook is “my bird won’t play with toys” – “my bird doesn’t play with toys” “my bird only wants to chew the keys off my notebook computer”.

Ho·lis·tic – hōˈlistik – adjective

Characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

Another way of putting it is “we are not connecting the dots”. Bird food is connected to bird toys, which are connected to bird cages and bird play stands. Everything has to work together.

 

There is a large overlap of caged bird keepers who claim the birds will eat nothing or will not play with toys – which is both the problem and the solution – we need to combine toys with the food.

Let’s back up for a moment and define the role of toys in your birds lives.

Enrichment – reducing or eliminating boredom. 

 

Privacy – using toys like the leaves of a tree in the wild in the top one third of the cage.

 

Foraging – working for food.

 

Studies have shown time and time again that parrots prefer to forage for their meals rather than simply having unlimited food sources and open dishes.

 

Here’s a video of Peaches ignoring her open food dish preferring to remove the toy parts in the foraging box to gain access to Nutri-berries and sunflower seeds.

If your bird is not playing with his toys. Is not interested in its toys. And if your bird is not eating his food or is is not interested in its food. This tells us we need to combine the two. Toys and food. Make mealtime interesting. Not just 5 or 10 minutes eating out of the overfilled food dish and then returning to the top of the cage for hours.

 

If your bird is not “interacting” with toys try thinking of ways to attach food to some toys. You can attach almost anything from millet spray to broccoli to almost anything else using cable ties.

 

If you don’t have any vine balls or small toy parts crinkle up small balls of newspaper (yes it’s safe for birds) or tissue paper, paper towel, anything in that order and cover the food dish so they can barely see the food – do that for a couple of days and call me in the morning.

 

The other issue is birds acting indiscriminately destructive like popping off your notebook computer keys. If the bird sees you working on a computer it sees the computer as your toy and wants to work on the computer with you too.

 

sff cockatoo eat keyboard computer blog 1 How do toys compliment a birds food?

 

If you’re searching for something to watch on Netflix the bird wants to play with the remote (remotes contain deadly batteries). If you’re not offering alternatives to computer keyboards and remotes expect them to be destroyed. Birds are amoral they are not being bad – they are being birds.

 

Diana Alexander Nichols says

She will never learn the meaning of no in her entire lifetime – it’s not how parrots are wired, all she wants to do is play with your toys you need to offer alternatives when she is out of the cage – this is Peaches our rescued Senegal.

Parrots are wired so all she wants to do is play with your toys, you need to offer alternatives when she is out of the cage

There is a notebook computer behind her, three remotes next to notebook computer in front of her where I’m taking the picture there are three more keyboards and 2 more remotes – you can see she is on a bird play stand, quite content

 

At the base of the stand is a foraging box filled with toy parts and at the bottom of the box are sunflower seeds nutriberries walnuts and almonds

Peaches climbs up and down all day foraging for nummies and I refill the box from the floor – all day – she has toys on the stand – the right one is missing because she chewed it off – a good thing – she climbs down there every once in awhile and I will bring her over to me to pet and then replace her on the stand – we do this for 4 to 6 hours a day when I’m working at home or I may put her in the cage with the door open.

 

She’s not flighted yet so she cannot return to it by herself – in my humble opinion your bird cage could use more toys – we feel toys in a bird cage are to birds what the leaves on the trees are to birds in the wild. We advocate enough toys for a bird to hide behind for privacy – we call it the cage canopy concept PM me if you’d like more details.

Editors note: this is an older blog post draft we brought to life. As of today 12/08/2017, Peaches is flighted and looking to go somewhere.

 

Ms Alexander Nichols  Indicated there are not a lot of toys in the cage because the bird is out of the cage most of the day – what about the 12 hours of birdie bedtime in the cage – he asks rhetorically?

 

She also goes on to say that when the bird interacts with the notebook computer she puts the bird back in the cage, the one without a lot of bird toys. The process repeats almost daily.

 

Mitch Rezman says

 

I’m sending you a video – I made a boatload of toys after spending $12 at the dollar store – getting you bird to interact with new toys is a journey – when I fill the foraging box i always give a nibble and make sure see sees me adding the treats to the box

 

The real danger is computers and remotes have metal – electricity and poisonous batteries

BTW Here’s a link to a $4 keyboard – without electricity running through it – let him pluck the keys off till his hearts content happily thinking that he’s got what you got.

 

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

your zygodactyl footnote

Author:

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.