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Four Dish Foraging

Does your bird ignore foraging toys? It’s quite common for

our companion birds to value our companionship more than the toys hanging in

their cage. It’s our job to help our birds live full and complete lives, and

that includes foraging for their food.

The starting point for most birds is wherever they currently are.

An african grey looks at a foraging cup

If your bird refuses to Forage, listen up!

The right foraging toy for the right bird can be a long journey. Also, many birds need to be TAUGHT to forage! They may not know how to interact with foraging toys or get easily frustrated and give up. We can help them learn the value and FUN in their foraging toys!

Some birds may have more skills than others. Regardless, all our birds eat food. By taking an action they already know (eating food from a bowl), we can use the principles of SHAPING to expand their food bowl into more movement, more exploration, and more interaction with foraging toys.

food dishes in a parrot cage
Several paper cups with parrot pellets in each are sitting on a table
Foraging in a dish

Step 1

Place four food bowls in your birds cage. Put the four dishes on the side of the cage your bird usually eats, near the usual spot.

Take their daily diet and split it into the four dishes.

Your bird will have to move left and right to look into each dish to find their daily food.

That’s it! Start SMALL.

Step 2

Once your bird is checking all four dishes, try moving them further apart. This increases movement between the bowls!

Step 3

Move the four bowls further apart, onto different walls of

the cage/enclosure. Make the dishes easily accessible. The small amount of movement will turn into larger walking and climbing throughout the cage to check all

four dishes. Increase the distance and variability as your bird progresses!

Step 4

If your bird has success at this level, increase the

difficulty. Place a small foot toy or a balled up piece of paper in each bowl, along with the daily diet.

ALWAYS ensure your bird is eating!

TIP: If a step is too challenging, go back to an easier step to build Confidence!

When your bird has demonstrated proficiency in looking and finding food pieces throughout the cage, you can try using a simple foraging toy, or hiding foods inside a toy.

This small change can have LARGE effects on your birds’ behaviour.

I encourage you to move at your bird’s pace.

Give it a try, and have fun!

A green parrot sitting on its food bowl with food all over its beak

SmartBeaks Academy

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In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, we honour and acknowledge Moh’kinsstis, and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations – Indigenous and non – who live, work and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.

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