Unlike dogs and cats which have been domesticated for thousands of years, your pet bird is still truly a wild animal that just happens to be living in a domestic environment. Captive birds retain their full array of natural instincts and habits, and as their caretakers, it’s important to give them suitable opportunities to exercise these instincts. Their brains are built to actively solve problems and forage throughout the day. Without the ability to exercise their foraging instincts, serious issues arise including aggression, feather picking, screaming, and depression—all from having too little to do throughout their day.In order to provide foraging stimulation and problem solving, here are few ideas for your pet bird to keep them chirping with content! Foraging ideas for pet birds.

1. Where’s The Food? – Offering multiple feeding stations encourages the bird to wander and explore outside of his cage or play area. You can keep the food nearby the cage and limit the area to where he is comfortable, but still providing a chance to mix things up. 

2. Find The Food: To encourage foraging, start by placing your first foraging toys in your bird’s normal food bowl so that they get the idea that these devices contain food. Once your bird gets used to taking these toys apart, you can start hiding them around different parts of their cage so that they have a fun hunting game to keep them busy throughout the day. You can also use clicker training to reinforce foraging behavior.  If you enjoy crafts, you can make your own toys with items from the craft store, or you can purchase toys, but make sure the materials are all-natural. 

3. Wrapped Treats: Try wrapping food treats in paper, then twist the ends with natural rope or vegan leather and hang from the cage (rope that frays is dangerous for your bird so be sure to use something like manila rope). If your bird is not the most adventurous, you can poke holes to give them a head start on uncovering the goodies inside. If your bird’s cage doesn’t have a play top, coconut shell perches that hold food can be placed on the outside of the cage or place a foraging tree just outside the cage for your bird climb on and find food.

4. For The Big Bird: Another quick and easy foraging toy that works especially well for larger birds involves a toilet paper roll and shredded paper. You simply place the food in the center of the roll, and then stuff each end with shredded paper and you have a cheap, easy to make foraging treat!

There are tons of ideas online for making foraging toys. Other options include toys made of dry pasta, wiffle balls, or cardboard boxes. Use the web to help you get creative and to learn what items are safe. And remember, when deciding on what types of foraging toys to make, think about what kinds of food your bird would be eating in the wild.  Larger, hook-billed birds are going to be foraging for large nuts and other tough-to-crack objects, so you’ll want to give them harder, thicker material to work at, while smaller birds such as song birds will need easier to dismantle treats to satisfy their foraging needs.Most of all, remember to mix things up to reduce boredom and have fun making the treats. You can even have a treat-making party with your bird friends to share ideas!