Enriching the Life of your Pet Bird

Author: Amanda   Date Posted:13 February 2017 


Enrichment means anything that makes something else better.  To narrow this down, enrichment for our companion parrots can be anything offered to a pet bird that in some way enhances the quality of life in direct correlation to the animal’s roots in the natural world.

Parrots are very intelligent animals and require a mentally, emotionally and physically stimulating environment.


Exercise is extremely important for a pet parrot.  Ideally your bird should be left flighted and allowed out of its cage to receive some safe flying.  If this is not possible than providing your bird with ladders, bungee ropes and swings will give your bird an opportunity to exercise in the cage.

Please note:  Monitor the safety of any hanging bungee rope toys to ensure your bird cannot can tangled in the rope.



Parrots spend up to 50-70% of their day searching for food in the wild. The demands of food acquisition mean they exert a lot of mental and physical exercise each day. 

Pet birds are only 3 generations removed from their wild counterparts and still retain these instinctual needs and desires.  Unfortunately in captivity many birds are given free access to food and exert none to very little effort in foraging for food.  The result of this means their time allocated to finding food can be reduced to around 30 minutes, leaving much of their time in an un-stimulated, boring environment, especially if their flock members (you) are gone for much of the day also.


As parrot owners we need to integrate foraging back into their routine.  This will create a stimulating environment and encourages their natural behaviours.  This means more time engaging in healthy, time consuming activity means less time available for other potentially harmful activities or undesirable behaviours such as feather picking, excessive screeching etc.  It is universally agreed that creating a more stimulating environment and promoting natural foraging behaviour will improve your birds overall psychological and. physical well being.

Creative Forgaging Systems produce a great range of products especially designed to implement foraging into your bird's daily routine.  They replace the routine of allowing your bird free access to food, which promotes laziness and as previously mentioned allows more time for undesirable behaviours to occur.


A great introduction to foraging for your bird can include:

  • Treat boxes available in a small and large size for different sized birds
  • Horizontal and vertical starter kits – consisting of a polycarbonate treat holder and bird safe chipboard holders.  (Refills are available)
  • I have seen the enjoyment and time it takes for my bird, Gidget to get to her food means much of her day is spent undertaking desirable and instinctual behaviours.










Have a range of these items placed around your bird’s cage and fill with their daily allowance of food.  Your bird needs to spend a great deal of their day using mental and physical exertion in getting to their food.

Other foraging devices that can be purchased for your bird are the Interactive and refillable devices.  These are normally made of clear polycarbonate material and provide a range of food acquisition challenges.  Ranging from entry level to advanced types of devices, these are a great choice of item to use in your bird's cage.





  • Great for really clever birds such as African Greys, Amazons and Macaws

Other items that can be used

Simple ideas for foraging also include:

  • Wrapping your bird’s food in safe paper (butcher’s paper, used envelopes) or hiding it in paper kitty litter or another appropriate paper.
  • Covering your bird’s food bowl with paper
  • Using an empty toilet roll and filling it then wrapping it up.


Birds are extremely tactile animals.  They use their beaks, feet, tongue and feathers to learn about their environment. 


Toys are important in providing your pet bird with an opportunity to explore and use their beak and tongue.  There are a range of bird specific toys ranging in from acrylic to natural toys. Ensure you are choosing the appropriate size toy for your bird.  Safety is key when it comes to toys, so ensure that there are no small parts that your bird could swallow or ingest or get their foot caught on.  Monitor your bird with any new toys.  Instead of having a cage crammed full of toys, provide your bird with a range of toys and rotate them regularly providing a new and exciting environment. 

Toys for small birds

Toys for medium size birds

Toys for large size birds

It’s important that we give our pet birds opportunities to also chew, like their cousins in the wild.  Chewing is instinctual to our companion birds.  Providing them destructible chew toys is important.  Yes it may seem they don’t last long, but look at the benefits and stimulation you are providing your loved pet!

Yucca chips, Kabobs, Funfetti, Partywise party balls and the Super Shredder are all example of such toys.   

Hard shell nuts and Calcium blocks or cuttlebone can also be used for tactile enrichment


Tactile enrichment doesn’t end with toys though.  Think about the amount of different surfaces a bird would land on in the wild each day.  So we need to provide our bird's with a replication of this in their environment.  This can be achieved by offering a range of perches of different sizes and textures.  This will also help keep their nails trim and feet muscles exercised. 


Provide a range of sizes of perches to allow for multiple foot positions (tightly gripped, spread out etc) and perches of different textures – some should be hard and flexible whilst others are more flexible.  Dowel or plastic perches that come in a lot of cages should be replaced with better options for your bird.

Such examples include:


It is also important to provide your bird with softer surfaces to mimic foliage in the wild. 

  • Birdy Buddy – a soft friend for your bird to have in the cage
  • Fresh branches of safe native plants washed thoroughly


Birds are flock animals and in the wild are found in large groups or smaller family groups. By having a companion parrot, you are removing them from their flock.So we need to become our parrot’s companion.Spending time with your parrot and providing a relationship based on trust is vitally important.


Birds are very visually oriented creatures.  Consider the location of your bird’s cage and what it looks at each day.  Is it stimulating, stress free and safe?  Consider moving your bird’s perches to provide them with a different outlook daily

Mirrors are a good option to place in the cage to provide visual stimulation, as to is putting the TV on. 


This may be overlooked in many companion parrot households.In the wild parrots use vocalisation across long distances for communication.Consider teaching your bird to allow for calling behaviour at appropriate times such as dawn and dusk.

Playing the radio or better yet having auditory clips playing of wild birds and nature sounds can enrich your parrot’s environment.

Many parrots are great at mimicking what they hear so you may be surprised what they can actually learn!! 

See Einstein, the Amazon parrot and his amazing talking abilities below!


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