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2009 August

Parrot Blog > 2009 August | You are here

2009 August

Toys and Environment Enrichment for Parrots

August 21st, 2009

As we know African Greys are very prone to behavioral problems, such as plucking for example. This ailment can be caused by numerous health issues, but often it goes in conjunction with boredom. A bored parrot is a miserable parrot. A miserable parrot will scream, bite, or pluck his own feathers. A miserable parrot is not a healthy parrot. Physical health is directly connected to the mental health, and if mentally the bird is unhappy it is much more susceptible to disease.

In the wild, parrots spend hours foraging for food, they fly long distances to find a food or water source. The rest of the time they spend preening, sleeping and interacting with the flock. In captivity, we provide all the food in dishes and it takes a parrot maximum an hour a day to feed, so what is he supposed to do during the rest of the day? In some studied, plucking amazon parrots were divided into two groups. One group was given plenty of foraging opportunities and had to look for the food, another group was given food in bowls, as normally it is done. The group which had to forage for food grew feathers faster and resolved to plucking significantly less than the group who was served food in bowls.

So, what I am leading to – it is very important to enrich the environment of our birds. Toys is one way of enrichment, but not all toys are created equal and the bird should an access to a variety of toys – paper, cardboard, wooden, plastic/acrylic, foraging, etc.
If your bird doesn’t play with the toys, then you need to search for other types of toys which will attract its attention.
Instead of having only two bowls for food, get three or four smaller ones and distribute all sorts of different foods between them, cover the top with some paper, and let the bird explore what is hidden in each dish.

Just recently, I gave Digby a birdie bagel – those cardboard things – well he just dropped it on the floor and was done with it. Then I saw that Squidy puts the bagels between the cage bars, so I did that, he did show a little more interest, but not as much as I wanted. Again, thanks to Squidy and her creativeness, I saw that these bagels can be put together in a chain sort of way. So I made a chain of smaller bagels, and as I know Digby likes pulling and shredding on strips of paper and raffia, I tied some of those to the bagels – and success – he was busy pulling on the raffia and paper and destroying the bagels all morning and as a result – no plucked out feathers were found here is the result of Digby’s morning work

Birdie Bagel

Birdie Bagel

If you haven’t seen these already, these are two of the best free booklets written about enrichment and toy making you can find on the internet. You can download them from this page (at the bottom) http://www.parrotenrichment.com/home.html

Bare in mind, that not all ideas described in the booklet will be suitable for your parrot, you have to know the habits of your bird, whether he chews things up and spits the bits out, or tend to swallow softer materials like paper. Some toys are best given only under the supervision, for example when the bird is out and playing on the playground, that includes toys which have many loose ropes and strings. Learn your parrot’s habit and try to enrich his environment as much as possible. In the end of the day, it is very easy to do and once you get the grip of it it will only take a few minutes.

Inspired by the booklet, a couple of days ago, I took a clean carton from Beak Appetit food, made two holes on one side and tied it to the cage of the bars with a leather string, filled the bucket with wooden pieces, some bits leftover from the toys Digby shredded previously and I just saved the bits, some shredders palm ribbon pieces, nutri-berries, a few nuts, etc. Digby enjoyed chucking all the stuff out of the carton and then nibbling on the carton itself!

My cockatiel and budgie don’t really like toys much, but they do like chewing all sorts of branches. So I took an untreated willow basket (which cost me only 99p), filled it with similar pieces as Digby’s “bucket”, threw in some pellets and a bit of seed in there, then tied a few wooden beads to the rim of the basket, and put a small wooden twig through it too. Well, it has been a success so far – they played in it all day long yesterday and all morning today – eating the food, picking the bits out, and nibbling on the basket itself.

Here is her diving in it

Cockatiel Playing In A Basket

Cockatiel Playing In A Basket

Be creative, devote some time to creating all sorts of interesting toys and foraging opportunities for your bird. They live almost as long as us, humans, and we are never satisfied with the same setting or toys for long, are we? So don’t assume that that one wooden toy you bought will serve your bird for years and keep it happy. It won’t. They are too intelligent to be satisfied with just one type of toy.

Help Please, My Parrot has flown away..

August 11th, 2009

Its summer time again, which means increased danger of escape for our feathered friends..I have noticed an increase accross the forums and societies i belong to in the instances of missing birds during the summer months. Its lovely hot sunny weather. People are out enjoying the weather. A front door is left open by children running in and out to play, we leave our own doors and windows open for fresh air, we forget and the bird simply flies through..people leave the cage outside to let their feathered friend have some much needed and appreciated sunlight and the cage door is opened by accident.. Suddenly our cherished bird is off and fluttering away.leaving broken hearts behind it..

If this happens to you don’t panic..There are many devoted people accross forums such as ours, operating a lost and found bird system..headed by John Haywood at the Parrot Society. If you contact John in the very first instance he will add your details and those of your missing bird to the lost and found birds register..this is by no means exclusive to African grey..any bird you loose can be included. Let him know all about it, the area lost, any distinctive markings or phrases the bird can say, whether or not it is chipped etc.

John Hayward runs the National Theft Register telephone 01869 325699. He is a Council Member of The Parrot Society UK. John works full time for the Register and has developed an expertise in this very important area. John also acts as a security advisor.
As a former Detective Inspector and Wildlife Liaison Officer he is very well qualified for this role and has had considerable success since taking on this responsibility in 1996.

If you or a friend has lost, found or had a parrot species stolen please contact John as a matter of urgency, his telephone number is as above or you can e-mail him on jh@ntr.supanet.com The service John provides to all bird keepers is invaluable and as he has nationwide contacts especially with most police forces he is able obtain some exceptional results. The Council of The Parrot Society UK thank him most sincerely for his dedication to lost, found and stolen birds.

Once you have contacted John you may want to follow some of the other advice offered here..I haven’t written it as such it is advice i have gathered from other societies and forums..but its all worth following..

If you belong to a bird club, please ask your newsletter editor to publish about your missing bird. . If your club holds a bird fair, please distribute any details. . If you know of someone who has lost a bird, please send the details along. If you are a member of any bird forums please use your birds lost and found section there to advertise the loss of your bird (you can also include details of any found birds here). Your forum moderators and many of the members will spend time making sure your details are published accross as many different forums and groups as possible, and may be able to marry your details with a found bird in your area advertised on another forum or message board.

Additional information from an author called Scott Lewis..

“Birds can live for days-weeks months, and even years after an escape. Never give up.

Always look for a grey BEFORE sun-up while it is still dark, and AFTER sundown. They are the most vocal then, and the most active.

Day 3 is when they get hungry and try to come in for food, they will go to just about any one at that time if they are tame.

ALWAYS have a recording of your grey when he is playing and having the most fun. Play this recording intermittently as you look for him.

Throw food on rooftops. Place a small cage on the roof of your house, or anyone’s where they grey has been seen.

Tell people to put him in a pillow case, and have friends carrying pillowcases while looking, or small cages.
Sometimes greys are caught by inexperienced holders and they don’t know what to do with them.

Water hoses do work if you can spray him shortly after his escape. Hit him with as much water as you can all at once. He is heavy from not having exercise, and the water throws him off enough to ground him for a bit. Do not drench just before dark unless you are sure you can get him.

If possible contact organizations 50 miles away. Sometimes people find them while traveling and go home with them. Greys can also get that far just flying.

Have someone watch the bird at all times if he is spotted and you need to go for help.
If you try to climb the tree, it often scares them up. A long branch may be better to coax him onto. Use your head here. Raise his cage to where he is.

Have friends and family miles away in other cities watch the lost and found ads.

If he is roosted near dark, wait until dark before trying to retrieve him. They don’t fly well at night, and they don’t want to fly, but make sure you don’t miss. And have your torch ready!

If sighted, keep people away, and let the owner try and coax him down. Have your helping friends in tall trees or on roof tops to watch where he goes if he takes off. You NEED spotters prepared and willing.

Finally, a hose does work, but don’t be shy. The idea is to totally soak the bird in a big hurry to the extent that it can’t fly. If you’re shy with the hose, you will simply watch a damp bird fly away.!!!”

Some interesting tips there to help retrieve your lost bird.

I was reading my parrot society magazine this morning.the august 2009 issue. In it, the Bomben family from Northamptonshire have written a letter of thanks to John Hayward for helping them recover their lost grey, Jack.

He flew away on July 26th this year, and the family were given John’s contact details from a bird sanctuary. John advised them to go outside and call for Jack at dusk and dawn when greys are most vocal, and to whistle his favourite tunes. The bird was short tailed so the family were advised he probably wouldn’t fly away too far. At about 7.30pm that evening they continued searching for Jack and to their amazment he whistled back from only metres away in a neighbour’s garden..happly sitting in a tree singing away! When approached by the Dad of the family the bird flew straight down into his arms! All of this happened within a day. The family wanted to share this story with other peple who have lost a much loved bird in this way..and to tell them to never give up hope.

Maybe you are reading this as someone who has lost a bird.. I hope I have been able to ease your mind and offer some helpful hints and tips.
Good luck and I hope you find your baby soon..

And for the rest of us..close the doors and windows when birdy is out!!

Thanks for reading, regards Mandy Taylor..African Grey Parrot Centre. x.x.x

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