You may be wondering why a picture of an empty room? Pretend for a moment that a child is brought up in a room similar to the picture, void of all toys. The child would in all likelihood “grow up” with behavioral, developmental, and social problems. The same is true for birds that are forced to live in empty cages or cages with the same old toys week after week after week.
Play is an essential part of a bird’s environment. It serves many valuable purposes, including avenues to develop physical, intellectual, emotional, and social capacities. It also provides a state of mind that is uniquely suited for high-level reasoning, insightful problem solving, and all sorts of creative endeavors.
Think of birds playing as having multiple levels. First, there is the bird that has toys in their cage. Toys should be of different textures, including shreddables, plastic, wood, and leather. Toys should also be of differing levels of difficulty. All shreddable toys will be destroyed quickly, leaving a bird bored. Sometimes customers request extremely hard wood toys so that they do not have to replace them as often. This is likely to “backfire”, as birds will become frustrated with wood they cannot chew.
The next level of play is foraging and enrichment toys. Birds are incredibly intelligent creatures and that intelligence should be respected. We offer many toys made specifically for foraging but, many toys can be transformed into foraging opportunities. The Paradise Four Drawer toy is one such toy. Place toy parts, foot toys, edible treats into the drawers and leave the drawers open. Then, do the same and close the drawers. Next, take a piece of brown lunch bag and place goodies inside, twist closed, put in drawers and close drawers. Finally, do all the above and place a small piece of masking tape over the drawer to make the task even more challenging.
Another level of play is interactive play. Parrots are fun-loving and when you interact with them, you can expect very positive rewards, ie. happier and better-adjusted parrot. Interacting with your bird can include: (1) rolling a ball back and forth on the floor; (2) teaching a bird tricks like waving, turning around, etc. We have a DVD by Tani Robar which teaches you how to teach your bird these tricks; (3) let the bird toss a toy on the floor and you pick it up – bird’s LOVE to see how well they can train their human friends!; (4) play peek-a-boo with a blanket. The possibilities of interactive play are limited only by your imagination.
In conclusion, there are many benefits from play for both people and parrots. It encourages a mutual relationship of trust. It helps create a healthy bond between human and bird, rather than a problematic sexual bond. —–Benefits to people? Seeing your bird have fun is sure to make you smile. The more fun your parrot has, the more fun you will have. It’s a win-win situation!!!