Teach Your Parrot to Forage in Just a Few Easy Steps!

Is your parrot new to foraging, or just stuck at a certain level?

 Foraging often needs shaping, which is when you take small steps towards the behavior you want to see.  If you take too big of a step, your bird may not understand what it is they need to do, and may get frustrated.  If they get frustrated and repeatedly walk away, take it back a step.

This example shows one way you can steadily increase the level of difficulty.  Here you start very easy and use an uncovered cup.  Make sure your parrot is watching when you introduce the cup and put a treat in it. Then give him a chance to take the treat from the cup.  Do this a few more times putting the cup at different places in the cage.  Then move on to the covered cup.  Once your parrot has mastered one form of the toy, move on to the next, making it a bit harder to get inside the cup each time. 

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For your parrot, making it more difficult could mean adding more "roadblocks" to them getting at the cup (like how we've adding the plastic saucers over the cover).  Or it might mean putting it in different places in their cage.  You could put in in a treat cage for example.  Or if you have a spare food dish, put it in there and then cover the dish with paper to hide the cup.  This adds yet another layer of difficulty.  If your parrot is getting frustrated and not able to figure it out, take a step back and offer a little less difficult option (for example, you could cut several small holes in the paper covering the food dish, so they are able to see that there could be something inside.  A step further back might be just to lay a piece of paper over the food dish.).parrots, parrot enrichment, foraging, parrot toys


Some other ideas:

Stuff small boxes (like pillow boxes or soap size boxes) with paper shred, beads and some dried foods.  Make sure your bird sees you stuffing the box.  Leave the box open for beginner foragers, so they can see there's something inside.  Hang the box in the cage or stuff in between the cage bars.  Close the box when they're more familiar with this.  To increase difficulty, put the box inside another item (like a treat cage or a slightly larger box). 

Wrap foods and other shreddables in paper cups.  I like the cone shaped ones, but you can also use small bathroom cups (get the ones without the wax coating).

Teaching your parrot to forage is a great way to keep them active and content.  Research shows that parrots even PREFER to work to find their food versus eating that same food freely out of a bowl!  (It's called contra freeloading if you're interested in checking out more about it.) 

 If you've got a great pic of your bird foraging, we'd love to see it!  

If you love quick and easy foraging ideas, check out our post Easy Foraging Trays



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