Ready.... Set... FORAGE

GinaF

New member
Aug 13, 2013
218
0
Utah
Parrots
B&G macaw
I'm posting this mostly for the new bird owner and those of us who are frustrated with the less than desirable behaviors of their birds.

In the wild, birds spend 80% of their time looking for food. Sometimes they get lucky... sometimes they come up with empty talons. And they're no different from any other animal, including humans. We're happy when we've experienced some level of success.

However, foraging toys are EXPENSIVE and while necessary for the mental health and well being of your bird, they're necessary.

So here are some of my ideas and things I've implemented to keep my Mac busy when I can't lavish affection on her.

1.) Keep that empty Hamburger Helper box! (And every other box for that matter!) These make awesome, easy foraging toys and typically you'll end up with several a week. These are great to fill with shredded paper and a few pieces of dried fruit, seeds or even a whole walnut for our big birds. Poke a few holes in them and tie to the sides of the cage. I tie mine low since my mac has some insane opposition to the cage floor.

2.) Brown paper lunch bags are awesome for smaller or medium sized birds to foraging in. Same as with the box, fill it mostly with shredded paper and place a few pieces of dried fruit in it, twist the top of the bag closed and tie it to the cage with a piece of string. It won't last long, but a pack of 100 is pretty cheap.

3.) Birdie Bon Bons. Get a roll of plain brown packaging paper from Fed Ex or Mailboxes Etc and some jute twine. Cut a rectangle, roll some loose nuts inside, twist and tie the ends and toss it into the bottom of the cage. Easy, simple, CHEAP!

4.) Grapevine balls. These can be found cheap at Walmart, Hobby Lobby and Michaels Crafts. I think a pack of 15 is about $7. While not long lasting for the big beaks, the amazons and greys LOVE them. Stuff some pieces of nuts and dried fruit inside and toss into the cage.

5.) Parrot candy. Coffee filters or colored paper make great 'parrot candies'. Wrap a few nuts and twist the ends closed. I take these and stick them in the cage bars for an easy find or toss them into a metal bucket that's hanging on the side of the cage.

6.) Wiffle ball treat. For those who have more time and are more creative, a wiffle ball, some leather lacing and drill holes in some whole, uncracked nuts. Wrap the nuts in paper and thread your lacing through. Feed the lacing through the holes in the wiffle ball and through another paper wrapped nut. Tie off tightly, They'll have to peel back the paper to get to the nut and then crack it off the leather. This will keep busy for days. I mix mine up between nuts and just plain old 1"x1" wood blocks or beads. You can even stuff some larger pieces of dried fruit inside the ball for added foraging after the 'candies' are gone.

7.) Sock sack. Occasionally you can find some irregular tube socks on ebay or at the dollar store. These are usually pretty cheap and plentiful. Fill these with a combination of nuts, seeds and wood blocks, tie off with a piece of jute twine or cotton rope and tie to the top of the cage. They'll have to rip a hole in them to get to the goodies. Replace when it starts looking tattered.

8.) Pine block. Take a piece of 2x4 and drill some larger holes in it. Stuff the holes with dried pieces of fruit and nuts, add a chain and quick link to the top of the cage. For your avid chewers (macaws and toos) instead of holes, make slits with a table saw and stuff the slits with seeds and fruit.

9.) PVC pipe dreams. You'll need a piece of PVC pipe, PVC cap for the bottom, some doweling, a drill, chain and a quicklink. Drill large holes in the pipe just big enough to fit your doweling in it. The size of the pipe depends on the size of the parrot. Obviously big birds need big pipes and larger pieces of doweling. Make an arch at the bottom large enough to get their beaks in just above the cap. You can use a dremel for this if you have one. Just sand the edges so they're not sharp. Place the doweling all the way through the holes and layer by layer, add nuts and pieces of fruit. You'll want enough holes to 'stack' the dowels to hold the treats up. Drill a hole in the top and hang from the top of the cage. When they remove the dowel rods, the treat falls into the bottom and they can retrieve them. Wash and refill.

10.) Chinese food box. These can be gotten cheap! Take a chinese food box, fill with paper and treats and tie to the side of the cage. For added security, I remove the metal handle.

So there's 10 ideas. Let's hear your ideas and I want to see some pictures!

Enjoy :)
 
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Luke252

New member
Aug 6, 2013
134
0
Sydney, Australia.
Parrots
Bluey - Opaline Blue Budgie, Larry - Greater Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Charlie - Samueli Red Tailed Black Cockatoo, Max - Eastern Long Billed Corella
Thanks for those helpful tips. I am gonna have to start trying a couple of those myself. Each of my birds have a couple of foraging toys but they don't last that long, so it'll be good now I have some of these inexpensive ideas. Thanks. :)
 

DallyTsuka

New member
Mar 19, 2011
1,331
1
Ontario, Canada
Parrots
Dallas and Tsukasa (Cockatiels)
Mango and Munchlax (Peach Faced Lovebirds)
will want to be using the PVC pipe one for our little lovebird munch :D great ideas!
 

Betrisher

Well-known member
Jun 3, 2013
4,253
168
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Parrots
Dominic: Galah(RIP: 1981-2018); The Lovies: Four Blue Masked Lovebirds; Barney and Madge (The Beaks): Alexandrines; Miss Rosetta Stone: Little Corella
For my Galah, Dominic, I got a yoghurt container, turned it upside down and poked holes in the lid and in the bottom of the tub. I tied a knot in one end of a piece of jute string and threaded it through the tub bottom, then through the lid. I filled the tub with shredded paper, shredded plastic wrapper and bits of dry ramen noodles, peanuts, dried fruits and some seeds. I cut a small starter hole and left him to it. Dom loves this toy, but he's got it figured out now. I need to make something a bit more challenging for him.

For the Beaks, I use a 2 litre milk bottle filled with the same stuff mentioned above. I cut slits in the sides of the bottle and then it's up to the Beaks to empty it and find the treats.

I also take toilet paper tubes, staple one end shut, fill with stuff and staple the other end. Dominic doesn't like these, but the Beaks do. All my birds love chewing on egg cartons, so I cut them into pieces and string them on a bit of leather.

Sometimes, I'll put a dob of peanut butter or honey into a penne pasta noodle. It's fun, watching the birds get to the sweet stuff and then eat the container.

Paper cups are handy to put fruit and veg treats it: you staple the top shut and let the bird figure out how to get the goodies out.
 

JDlugosz

New member
Jun 25, 2013
163
0
Parrots
Bronze Wing Pionus
How does the bird know that something worth having is hidden inside some difficult-to-access location? I'm thinking of the nut wrapped in paper.
 

JDlugosz

New member
Jun 25, 2013
163
0
Parrots
Bronze Wing Pionus
I started Diamond early on bottle caps, since that is a "free" item that can be replaced nearly every day. Right now he loves straws! Oh, and the ripped-off plastic from a frozen food bag: I tie to the bars or a perch. I also noticed he liked the nylon zip-tie that was sticking out the top of the cage; I had not cut it off since it wasn't inside, but then he took to hanging out on top of the cage. So I added some more ties in different colors for no reason other than to play with.
 
OP
GinaF

GinaF

New member
Aug 13, 2013
218
0
Utah
Parrots
B&G macaw
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Birds actually have a keen sense of smell. Mine could smell my fruit on my plate from across the room.
 

JDlugosz

New member
Jun 25, 2013
163
0
Parrots
Bronze Wing Pionus
Birds actually have a keen sense of smell. Mine could smell my fruit on my plate from across the room.

Interesting! Another myth bites the dust; I keep reading that birds have a poor sense of smell.

Birds Have A Good Sense Of Smell
Birds inherited strong sense of smell from dinosaurs
"It was previously believed that birds were so busy developing vision, balance and coordination for flight that their sense of smell was scaled way back," said Darla Zelenitsky, assistant professor of paleontology at the University of Calgary and lead author of the research. "Surprisingly, our research shows that the sense of smell actually improved during dinosaur-bird evolution, like vision and balance."

Thanks for bringing that to my attention.
 

Betrisher

Well-known member
Jun 3, 2013
4,253
168
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Parrots
Dominic: Galah(RIP: 1981-2018); The Lovies: Four Blue Masked Lovebirds; Barney and Madge (The Beaks): Alexandrines; Miss Rosetta Stone: Little Corella
He doesn't, but after nibbling one package open, he learns that small packages contain treats and keeps on trying. ;D
 
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GinaF

GinaF

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Aug 13, 2013
218
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Utah
Parrots
B&G macaw
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Birds actually have a keen sense of smell. Mine could smell my fruit on my plate from across the room.

Interesting! Another myth bites the dust; I keep reading that birds have a poor sense of smell.

Birds Have A Good Sense Of Smell
Birds inherited strong sense of smell from dinosaurs
"It was previously believed that birds were so busy developing vision, balance and coordination for flight that their sense of smell was scaled way back," said Darla Zelenitsky, assistant professor of paleontology at the University of Calgary and lead author of the research. "Surprisingly, our research shows that the sense of smell actually improved during dinosaur-bird evolution, like vision and balance."
Thanks for bringing that to my attention.


It's interesting how avian knowledge is constantly evolving. When I first got a parrot 20 years ago, seed was the number one diet. Now even peanuts are deemed harmful. The fact is, we're all guessing. These creatures still remain a mystery and we, as humans, still have much to learn from them. We do our best though.

In rescue, I had an amazon that was blind in both eyes. Despite his disability, his other 4 senses would tell him when and where his food was. He couldn't forage as well, but the easier toys made for small successes. It was then that I learned that they really could smell things.
 

noblemacaw

New member
Sep 23, 2011
1,056
3
Parrots
Valentino - Red Fronted Macaw - Hatched August 12, 2012
I now believe parrot can smell better than I gave them credit for. Just yesterday after playing hide and seek with Valentino my RFM I put him on his Java tree to play and sneak off to use the bathroom. I don't close the door because I need to be able to hear if any of the pets act up.

As I was using the bathroom Valentino flies into the door way and lands on my shoulder...as I am using the bathroom. Annoyed I say to him. "I'm busy go back to your tree." as I try to brush him off of me.

He hops onto the counter right next to me and he tilts his head and announces to me.
"you STINK!" I just stare at him. I didn't immediately react because I didn't see that coming at all. Finally I say to him in an annoyed voice.

"Well your the one that flew in here..told ya I was busy."

He sneezed three times then flew back out of the room and went back to his tree.

You gotta love him. I tell myself that every single day.
 

JerseyWendy

New member
Jul 20, 2012
20,995
18
.....
"you STINK!" I just stare at him. I didn't immediately react because I didn't see that coming at all. Finally I say to him in an annoyed voice.

"Well your the one that flew in here..told ya I was busy."

He sneezed three times then flew back out of the room and went back to his tree.

.....


Rebecca, I'm in tears here from laughing so hard!
 

Gizmomania

Banned
Banned
Aug 25, 2012
599
0
San Diego
Parrots
Duskies: Gizmo & Niko, hatched 3/12 & 5/12; pineapple GCC: Skittles, 5/10/13; Pan Am: Harley, 1/27/13; CAG: Maalik, 7/27/13; Eclectus: Ziggy, 4/4/04; BHC: Walter 6 y; baby Jardine's: Bogart-May!
Seriously?? He said that to you? OMG, that's one of the funniest things I've ever heard a parrot say! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
 

Tiki Bird

Member
Feb 3, 2022
43
75
Parrots
Budgies / Parakeets
I have budgies and they love some of the natural fiber and wood items from the dollar store. String them together with twine and voila, instant bird toy. Add a bell, even better!
 

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