Why does my Bird Scratches on the Floor? Main Reasons

Translated by Nick R

You may find some of your bird’s behaviors strange, especially if you are a new owner, and a common one is foraging. Here’s what it involves.

Is it normal for my bird to forage on the floor? 

Yes, it is normal. Your bird may be motivated to search for objects on the ground primarily because of its instinct to forage and nest: two natural mechanisms for surviving in its natural habitat. Therefore, don’t worry when your pet bird forages on the ground, this behavior results from its need to look for food and care for its young.

Main reasons why your bird forages on the floor 

These are the two main reasons for your bird to forage on the floor:

What is foraging in birds? 

Foraging is the natural method of learning that different species of animals, including birds, have, fundamental to their survival and reproduction. Foraging behavior manifests in all types of commensals: carnivores, herbivores, granivores, frugivores, insectivores, etc.

Foraging is a natural behavior in birds based on behaviors aimed to obtain food through actions of searching, exploration, selection and manipulation of food or substrate.

This behavior is also related to the learning of young birds to social life in groups and to cope with environmental conditions.

Foraging behaviors in birds 

Foraging behaviors are most fluent outside the cage, so your friend needs to have elements for this purpose both inside and outside the cage. However, birds enjoy foraging outside, as they have more space and freedom to explore.


Foraging actions are the first thing your bird will do. Foraging is basically walking around while probing and scanning its environment for food.


The bird will explore the objects it picks up with its beak and feet using its senses; touching, tasting and looking, smelling and listening. This way the bird identifies the physical characteristics of the objects.


The bird selects items with its beak and feet, choosing the pieces of food among other items that it discards or separates such as lids, wood, corks, and stones.


Once it has identified and selected the elements, separating them into food, stones, wood and other analyzed objects, the bird will manipulate the objects; chopping, hanging, breaking, and throwing them, while it collects and eats the pieces of food found.

Types of foraging in birds 

In the bird world this behavior can manifest in two ways:

Foraging in solitude

This type of foraging occurs under favorable conditions and when resources are abundant, so the animal doesn’t need to group together.

Foraging in groups 

In this type of foraging the animal associates with other individuals. In general, birds are social animals, except solitary birds such as hawks, hummingbirds, and woodpeckers, among others. The most common domestic birds are all gregarious, that is, they live in groups or flocks.

Unlike solitary foraging, birds forage in groups to optimize resources and protect themselves from predators.

Learn more about domestic birds.

Benefits of foraging in birds 

As a bird owner, you must be well aware of the benefits of foraging and ensure that your friend can do it without any problems by enriching its environment, as it contributes to its well-being. These are the main benefits of foraging in birds:

  • It increases the bird’s physical activity.
  • It stimulates its mind.
  • It wears out its beak and claws.
  • It avoids feather diseases and stress.
  • It prevents abnormal sexual behavior.
  • It keeps the bird entertained.

What is nesting? 

One particularity of birds is their ability to build nests, a behavior that guarantees protection of the chicks while they grow up and can survive on their own. Each bird species has different directions for nest building, so there are several types of nests. Some of the most common nests in pet birds are the following three:

  • Cavity nests are holes drilled into the inside of a nest.
  • Bowl nests are shaped like a deep dish and are almost completely made of fiber.
  • the Saucer nest is shaped like a shallow dish and is constructed mostly of fibers.

Why nesting motivates my bird to forage on the ground? 

One of the reasons why your bird searches the ground is precisely the necessity to look for useful construction elements for its nests. So, it is not strange for it to look for fibers such as straws or grasses that will give structure to the nest, taking into account that the most common species of birds in homes are passerines and Galliformes, species that build with this material or in the case of the Psittaciformes, who cover the inside of the cavity of a tree with grass.

Birds build their nests after the mating season, entering the breeding season, in most cases in spring in seasonal areas. For example, goldfinches, a partially migratory bird, choose the season of greatest abundance of food (seeds, insects, fruits) to raise their chicks, ensuring them a good diet and the protection of the nest.

Now you know the importance of foraging and nesting for your birds. If you see them foraging on the ground again, let them follow their instinct, it’s no big deal.