Remember birds are flock animals and you are their flock
Foraging and enrichment opportunities
When asked what is appropriate cage size for a large macaw I usually recommend no less than 30 square miles.
An adult macaw in the wild will fly anywhere from 20 up to 100 miles in a given day. Stopping dozens of times in known places for food and water.
Sometimes the food is not so apparent and the birds have to dig for it in dead or rotten trees, under rocks and on the ground. This is called foraging. Birds are hardwired to look for food that’s what they do.
We get surprised when they throw food from their overfilled food bowl and ignore the $10 a pound stuff – which looks just like the $3 a pound stuff.
Your bird doesn’t really want to eat just from an endless bowl, it wants to work for food which is what we call foraging and enrichment.
At least cover the bowl with paper. Drop toys and toy parts over the bird food so the bird has to pull out stuff before it accesses the food.
We have foraging boxes around our apartment with the bottom of the boxes filled with treats like almonds, Nutriberries and mixed nuts. Peaches has become very efficiant at uncovering the food.
We’re now using more, small bird toy parts enabling us to pack the foraging box tighter continually providing more of a challenge.
When we put Peaches down somewhere in the apartment, she’s always in an area where she can access something as simple as a pile of business cards covering some nuts. This keeps her happy and occupied for 10 or 20 minutes.
Please do not deprive your bird of these enrichment activities including toys of various materials and outcomes (mechanical toys that offer a single treat after manipulating the toy for several minutes)
Your bird has a standing heart rate of 200 bpm that doubles the instant it achieves flight.
Humans can’t imagine that efficiency but also like humans birds can develop fat around their heart and around their liver and other parts of the body unless they exercise.
Flying is one of the best exercises. Should you elect to keep your birds wings clipped you can hold their feet and allow them to flap their wings.
Make them run circles around a small blanket like a toddler or walk up and down the stairway.
Keep your bird cage challenging giving them several pathways to get from one place to another. Place treats at various levels of the cage to encourage cage bar climbing which helps keep their feet in shape.
In the South American rain forest birds get a gentle misting seven days a week which helps them keep the feathers clean and organized.
Even in the driest of deserts in Australia or the Serengeti plains in Africa, birds know where safe waterholes can be found sometimes by scouting themselves and other times led by different species.
Also published on Medium.