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Foraging Toys and Treats – Keeping Pet Birds Active and Interested

Wild birds spend the vast majority of most days occupied with gathering food.  In captivity, where all their nutritional needs are usually met in a matter of minutes, boredom and a general decline in vitality are constant concerns.  While well-recognized in parrots, these same considerations apply to canaries and other finches, quails, softbills and all other pet birds.

Foraging Toys

A wide variety of bird toys is available to assist in Foraging Toykeeping our avian friends occupied.  Among the most useful are those that, provisioned with food, encourage birds to work at obtaining snacks.  Known as “foraging toys”, these are based on behavioral principles long applied by professional aviculturists.  In my opinion, they qualify more as “health aids” than toys.

I also highly recommended our line of natural bird toys; these must be shredded and otherwise physically manipulated before the bird can retrieve the food hidden within.  In addition to mentally and physically stimulating your pets, they will help to keep beaks in good condition and to sharpen motor skills and reflexes.

Natural Foods

Foods provided in their natural form will also encourage birds to utilize foraging skills.  Particularly useful in this regard are millet sprays, sprouting greens and whole fruits.

Monk ParakeetLive insects are unbeatable in arousing the interest of finches, white-eyes and most softbills.  By allowing mealworms or waxworms to burrow into a pan of sand or oatmeal, you can keep you pets happily hunting for hours.  Crickets are even better, especially if you stock the cage bottom with empty paper towel rolls in which the insects can hide.  Plastic wrap wound around the lower 2 inches of the cage bars will help contain any crickets that escape your pet’s notice.

Hiding canned insects and other treats about the cage will encourage exploration and an interest in the environment in general. 


An outdoor aviary is, in and of itself, a giant foraging “toy.  Birds kept outdoors, even for part of the year, invariably become more alert and active – catching insects, sampling growing plants and just watching what is happening all around them.

Further Reading

To read more about other means of adding to your birds’ quality of life, please see my articles Behavioral Enrichment for Parrots and Finches Use Parrot Toys Too!


Monk Parakeet image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by snowmanradio

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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