Helping Your Bird Live a Happy Life: Part 2

We continue with the second part of how to enrich your bird’s life and environment by Dr. Peterson.

Movies for Birds

Bird cages should be as large as possible to allow room for more toys, perches and foraging areas. Some birds love having a radio or television kept on while owners are gone. My parrots like watching kids’ movies, especially musicals and, for some reason, Richard Simmons exercise videos.

Most birds are quite messy and destructive and it is our job to make them happy by providing toys for them to tear up and thereby create disaster zones in their cages. Clean-up is a large part of pet bird care. Larger parrots love tearing up old phone books placed on top of their cages, bad paperback books that don’t deserve to be read twice or rolled up paper. Small birds also enjoy tearing up rolls of paper. If you have a vegetable garden, preferably organic, bring in that baseball bat sized zucchini for the birds to shred or raw corn on the cob, whole green or hot peppers, peas in the pod, beans in the shell, etc. The birds may eat some of the healthy veggies as they have fun tearing them up.

Pet stores have many wooden, coconut shell and leather bird-safe toys that are meant to be chewed up. If your bird is afraid of a new toy, wrap it in brown paper first and put it in the cage so the bird can chew away the paper and gradually discover the toy. A good place to find lots of inexpensive toys is the semiannual bird fair at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.

Making Foraging Toys

Recently, many new foraging toys have been made commercially available for larger birds, designed to be a challenge for them to reach hidden treats. You also can create your own simple foraging toys by hiding treats, such as Nutraberries, in Dixie cups stuffed with shredded paper and crumpled, or hiding them in toys already in the cage.
A few nuts stuffed in an empty plastic drink bottle can be a challenging toy for a larger parrot. Some people set up foraging trees indoors, using poplar branches, with treats and toys in the branches. Small birds, such as cockatiels, enjoy foraging on a newspaper covered cage floor with shredded paper hiding the treats.

Don’t forget that regular misting showers from a spray bottle are appreciated by our pet birds, as well as a varied diet offering healthy fruits and veggies along with free choice pellets and a few seeds and nuts. Smaller parakeets, canaries and finches have more seed rich diet requirements, but also require fresh vegetables to stay healthy and to provide variety.

Birds are wonderful pets, which give us much love and entertainment. With just a little effort on our part, we can return that love and help them live long, happy lives.

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