Enrichment is one of the most important things we can provide any animal under our care, especially parrots. Enrichment is anything that keeps our parrots engaged, involved, mentally and/or physically stimulated, occupied, and learning. It is the one thing that I think is of the most important to provide to our parrots.
In our initial blog post, I had suggested that you, the reader give me suggestions on what you would like me to address. One of the responses was what we can provide our parrots to help prevent feather destructive behaviors. Enrichment! That is one of several things we should be focusing on for the prevention or redirection of feather destructive behaviors. One of my favored forms of enrichment to provide to the parrots in my care is foraging toys. Foraging is the act of searching for food or treats. I’ve had to teach all of the parrots in my care to forage for their food. It is a learned behavior and in the wild, it is taught by the parents.
When beginning to teach a parrot to forage for their food, there are
several steps to take and one is to make it easy and another is to start with their favored treats while leaving their primary form of nutrition in their bowl.
If our birds are foraging for their food they are: 1) learning from their environment, 2) mentally and physically enriched, 3) foraging vs. screaming, biting, plucking, pacing, etc. 4) given a sense of more control in their environment, also know as empowered! I want to empower the birds in my care and I want them having as many choices in their environment as I can give them, and this is exactly what foraging can do.
Foraging can also help with getting parrots to want to go back into their enclosures. I love it when the parrots in my care eagerly step off of me and back into their enclosure for the opportunity to figure out or interact with a foraging toy. I need and want the birds to be and play independently from me. I love them to want to be with me too but just as important is for them to be confident and independent. The independence helps prevent anxiety behaviors when I am not with them. THIS is the importance behind foraging.