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David Woolcock | Jan 27, 2007


Duchy College students and some of the enrichment items they made this week.

For the pet parrot, enrichment can come in many forms; treats, toys, a new fresh branch, telling the family dog to sit, the sound of the radio and of course that extra special time spent positively interacting with its owner. 

Unfortunately there are a lot of parrots out there that get very little in the way of enrichment.  You don’t have to spend vast sums of money on toys, there are lots of everyday items which your parrot will love that cost next to nothing.  Let’s take a look at some of the simple enrichment ideas that we use here at the park.  The photographs were taken by one of our staff, Louise, this week whilst she was showing a group of animal care students from Duchy College how to make and distribute enrichment items for our birds.

A simple wooden toy using natural fibre rope dyed with food colouring and pieces of fresh branch.

Pine cones filled with all manner of treats!  Seeds, fruits even insects for some species.  We always bake freshly collected pine cones in the oven prior to using.

A simple fun feeder for lorikeets or small parakeets.  Made from a section of acrylic rolling pin with angled holes drilled into it.  Simply fill the holes with fruit juice, nectar or just plain water and hang in the enclosure, the birds love it.

These spiral balls are often found in pet store to feed wild birds.  Fill one with chopped fruit and watch the smaller birds enjoy the challenge of getting to the fruit.

This is one of Louise’s favourites.  A simple wooden kitchen spoon, dipped in honey or unsalted peanut butter and then dipped into millet or a similar small seed.  By the next morning its a plain wooden spoon again - or just splinters on the ground!

Okay, not a parrot, a Ground Hornbill.  However, the principle is the same.  Encouraging foraging.  In this case the box is full of insects and fruit, but for a parrot it could be filled with seeds, nuts, fruits etc.  Why not fill it with scrunched up paper balls, some of which contain treats.  Use coloured paper and only put the treats in one colour - how long before your bird figures out which balls contain a treat and which do not?

A great little treat made from plaited or folded palm fronds.  Simple, cheap and fun.

Enrichment should be stimulating, fun and safe for the birds.  Experiment with different things.  The same enrichment every day can become routine and can get boring, so keep changing things around to keep it unpredictable.

Enriching the lives of your birds will undoubtedly enrich your life in the process as well. Enjoy!