How to Encourage Foraging in Your Bird? 3 Methods

Translated by Nick R

Animals develop certain behaviors to survive in their natural habitat, for example, foraging. Yet, sometimes they seem to forget and you must help them develop these behaviors.

3 ways of inducing foraging in your bird 

All birds practice foraging, especially parrots, parakeets, and lovebirds. However, you must keep in mind that sometimes birds in captivity don’t develop this behavior very well and you have to encourage them to do it better.

Why is it important to induce foraging in your bird? 

Foraging is a supremely important behavior for the well-being and physical health of your friend, primarily because it is your friend’s natural way of exercising his mind and body. You know, birds are very restless and intelligent.

On the other hand, it’s the best way to wear out their beak and claws, which need no veterinary intervention in their natural habitat. However, in captivity, they can grow longer than normal and become a problem for the bird when walking and eating. Therefore, you must provide them with a good environmental enrichment to help them develop this behavior through searching, exploration, selection, and manipulation. There are three ways to induce your friend:

Use a special tray to induce foraging 

Using a foraging tray is one of the easiest ways to motivate your bird into this behavior. In fact, it’s the most recommended method for your bird to go with its instinct and develop this behavior quickly. It’s the most efficient way to wear out their legs and beaks naturally.

A foraging tray consists of the following elements:

  • A substrate with pellets or compressed sawdust and cork sticks.
  • Stones (common or volcanic).
  • Food (seeds, feed, nuts, snacks).
  • Clay balls.
  • Pieces of wood or bark.
  • Corks.
  • Shells (optional).
  • Others (paper, lids, metal).
How to build a foraging tray 

Build your foraging tray by following this simple step-by-step:

  1. Take a plastic or metal tray or container to use especially for your birds.
  2. Pour the pellets into the tray and distribute them evenly.
  3. Distribute the items evenly throughout the tray.
  4. Hide the seeds, fruits, and vegetables they like the most among the items in the tray for the bird to search, explore, manipulate and select.
  5. Share the process with your bird, this will strengthen the bond and they will adopt the behavior faster.

Use toys to induce foraging. 

I have mentioned the importance of bird toys in other articles and foraging is no exception. Birds require constant challenge and exercise to stay healthy, games and toys are objects to implement one of the most recreational ways to maintain their well-being.

Toys are fundamental to motivate foraging in your pet through the manipulation and exploration of objects that stimulate their senses. The following are the most recommended toys for this purpose:

  • Cuttlefish bone.
  • Toys with chewing pieces.
  • Wicker ball with a seed inside.
  • Crusher toy.
  • Toy with wooden blocks.
  • Bells (the sounds activate their curiosity).

I recommend placing the toys in the food containers and mixing them so that the bird searches and digs through the food, identifying and separating the elements outside the food.

Use food to encourage foraging 

A third way to induce foraging is through food, which works to motivate foraging and food selection over other items. There are three ways to implement this method:

Spread the food 

A simple way to induce daily foraging in your bird is to use several containers to spread the food ration in different places and encourage your friend to forage. You can also spread the food on the floor, placing a non-toxic artificial grass for your bird (keep it clean).

Cut up pieces of food 

You can use larger pellets or snacks to induce the bird to break the pieces into smaller pieces and cut the food pieces into attractive shapes. You can also offer food with different colors, textures, and flavors.

Hide the food 

Finally, you can motivate your friend’s curiosity by hiding his favorite food. Through food you can induce foraging, encouraging searching and exploration in your bird in two different ways:

  • Packing pieces of food with cardboard for him to chew on until he gets to the food.
  • Covering or wrapping feeders so he can search for a way to get to his food.

Keep your bird active and encourage foraging in your friend, that beak won’t file itself; just be prepared for the mess.