Doctor Hess: So, birds are really social creatures. They live out in the wild with thousands of other birds and they need things to do.
When they're in our homes, they're often bored. And we really need to give them things to chew on. To tear apart. To rip apart.
Remember, they're building nests outside, and we're not giving them that opportunity to do that inside. So we need to give them things to build with.
We can use soft woods. We can use leather. We can use paper to shred up. These are all things that are safe for birds.
We have to be careful about using some of the heavier plastics. Because, although those are safe for little birds with little beaks, for birds that are larger they can actually rip those pieces of plastic apart and they may ingest them.
We have to be careful with toys that hang on chains. We want to make sure that the links in the chain are not the size that would catch a little bird's toe or leg in them and get caught.
And we just have to make sure that all the parts of the toy are safe. That they can't rip them apart and pull off things to ingest.
Now, there is a big buzzword out there in bird land. It's called foraging. Sarah, do you want to tell us what foraging is?
Sarah: Sure. Foraging is not only a good way to come up with new toys for your bird but it's also extremely good for their mental health.
In the wild birds are constantly looking for food. Doing what we call foraging for food. They're digging through leaves. They're ripping trees apart. They're looking for good fruits and nuts.
And when we bring them into our home we put some food in a bowl and we expect them to be happy with that. And, unfortunately, they're so smart, they get bored.
So, a good way to do some foraging with your bird is you can even use stuff from home. You can use paper bags and hide their favorite food in it. You can tear some little holes just to get them started. They love to rip it up.
Paper towel rolls. Anything paper-based, cardboard is safe. You do want to be careful with plastics and metals and other things like that. We don't want them to ingest anything toxic.
But they also even sell specially made foraging bird toys that are a little more complicated and involve a little more brain power on the bird's part. And it's good for birds that start to get a little past the cardboard box phase and even get bored with that.
Doctor Hess: Right. Again, birds in the wild have jobs. They hunt and they gather and they look for mates and nest sites and food. And they have something to do all day.
In captivity, they're very bored, and that's when we see behavioral problems. So if we can, think ahead. Plan for our birds. Make our own foraging toys. They don't have to be expensive, as Sarah mentioned. You can use household items.
Really, you can make a bird's quality of life much better. They'll bond to you better and they'll have a lot more fun.