Foraging is an important activity for our pet parrots – not only does it keep them entertained and occupied , but it provides them much needed mental enrichment.

In the wild, parrots spend the majority of their waking time looking and working for their food. In our homes, parrots generally have all their food conveniently provided for them in a nice, neat little cup.

While we pet owners are certainly improving our charges’ lives by not exposing them to the dangers of starvation, we also remove from them a fundamental part of what they are designed to do. So why not do both? Why not provide all the food our parrots need to thrive and be healthy, but ALSO provide them with important foraging opportunities.

Hungry Parrot. Photo by Sangudo, used under Creative Commons license.

Hungry Parrot. Photo by Sangudo, used under Creative Commons license.

Foraging is important for pet parrots because, first of all, it gives them something to do. Boredom is the precursor to a lot of behavior problems.

While commercial foraging toys are often pretty cool (and my own birds might actually have most of the foraging toys available for purchase 🙂 ), you don’t actually need to spend a lot of money buying and replacing these products. You may be surprised how easy it is to make your own bird foraging items.

Here are just two ideas for making your own cheap foraging toys:

* Get small, unwaxed Dixie cups. Put a treat inside and crumple the cup together so the treat doesn’t fall out. Your bird will have to open or chew the paper to get at the treat.

* Find some medium-sized rocks, wash and dry them thoroughly, then put them in a bowl with some treats. Your bird will need to move or work around the stones to reach the treats.

See? How easy is that? These are just some examples to show you that providing foraging activities doesn’t need to be expensive, and to get spur some creative brainstorming on your part. Once your birds learn to forage, you can even make them forage for all their food if you want.

There’s a great blog of LiveJournal that’s all about promoting foraging ideas for parrots: The Captive Foraging for Parrots blog includes reviews of foraging toys, instructions for making your own foraging ideas, and photos and videos of parrots engaged in foraging. Check it out for inspiration.