Avian Enrichment

Posted on November 28, 2023

by Guest Contributor

Posted November 28, 2023

What is Enrichment, and why it’s important:
Enrichment is a method used to encourage a bird’s natural behaviors and to provide them with mental stimulation. Wild birds are active! They forage for food, eat, preen, fly, socialize, and they watch for predators. In a home environment, enrichment is important for your bird as it helps to stimulate these natural behaviors and encourages them to be more engaged with their surroundings. Enrichment can also help to minimize the chance of your bird developing behavioral or health issues, such as screaming for long periods of time or feather picking due to boredom or lack of stimuli. When a health issue arises, always visit your veterinarian to rule out
any medical problems first.

Enriching Your Bird’s Life:
When providing enrichment for your pet bird, there are multiple things to consider: your bird’s senses, their environment, and their ability to forage and manipulate items. It’s also good to keep in mind how nervous your pet bird is about new objects. Some birds may need to start off with minimal or simpler enrichment, then slowly transition into more complex enrichment, while other birds will enjoy more complex enrichment right away. Learn about your bird’s preferences by trying out different types of enrichment; if they don’t engage with it right away, allow a short time period to allow the bird to acclimate and become comfortable with it. If they’re still not interacting with it, you can then change it out or re-design the enrichment.

If you want to make sure you’re engaging your bird in different ways, keep an enrichment
calendar! You can pre-plan the calendar, or you can make a note each day about the type of
enrichment or toy that was used. When thinking of different types of enrichment, think about the
following: their environment (E), something they can manipulate (M), their sense of touch (T),
their vision (V), their taste (novelty foods (N.F.) & foraging ability (food puzzles (F.P.)) and their
hearing (S – sound). Here’s a little example:

 

Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
V S F.N. E M F.P. T
N.F. E V S F.P. T M
F.P. V T M E S F.N.
V F.P. M N.F. S E T

 

Keep in mind that enrichment can fall into multiple categories. These categories are simply
reminders to enrich your bird in different ways that will stimulate all their senses and encourage
their natural behaviors in order to prevent boredom.
You can always purchase enrichment items from your local pet store or online, but also consider
items you have in your home and get creative! Below are a few links to help inspire you.
Association of Avian Veterinarians: Enrichment Tips  ● Lafeber: Bird Foraging & Play
Veterinary Partner: Parrot’s Lifestyle    Veterinary Partner: Environmental Enrichment
MakeYourOwnBirdToys

Enrichment Safety:
Anytime you’re creating or purchasing enrichment for your bird, make sure it’s appropriate for your individual pet. When introducing new enrichment, keep an eye on your pet bird to make sure it’s not causing them stress and that it’s safe for them. If food is being used to enrich your bird, ensure it’s safe for them to consume. When you’re looking around your home, what DIY enrichment can you make for your pet bird? Always keep your bird’s safety in mind, and also consider enriching all of their senses. If DIY enrichment is not for you, ask a friend or family member to help or visit a local or online pet store. Enriching your bird encourages your bird to perform natural behaviors, and it mentally stimulates them, which will help prevent boredom and negative behaviors from forming.

Enriching your bird will enrich you and help you build a positive relationship with your pet bird. We hope this helps you and your feathered friend live a full and enriched life. Reach out if you would like to schedule an exam and find out more about your kiddo!

 


 

Kelsey has been a part of the AAAC family since 2020. With a passion for birds and other small mammals like hedgehogs and chinchillas, she makes a fantastic addition to our clinic! She has previous experience with enrichment, specifically in zoos. When she isn’t working, you can find her crafting/crocheting, plant shopping, or training with her pup Finley.

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