Plants and Parrots
Ruth Fahrmeier's article, Plants and Parrots - a Personal Perspective, inspired me to want to incorporate more plants into my aviary and my home and place them in areas where my parrots have access to them. I found I enjoy sitting out in the aviary watching my parrots nibble at the pansies while we all soak up the sunshine. In the house, no indoor plant located near a play area is safe from curious beaks. The live plants are all on the safe list and I rotate out plants that are pruned to expose bare dirt. I have an area in the home that isn't accessible to the birds where I can hang them to recover full growth. In the living areas of my home I have become accustomed to living with awkwardly pruned plants. It is destruction I can live with as it promotes activity and in most cases the leaves grow back.
Ruth Fahrmeier is an Education and Outreach Coordinator for Phoenix Landing Foundation in Maryland and I was happy to have her permission to include her article on pages 16-18 of The Parrot Enrichment Activity Book, Version 2.
My Meyers parrot, Byrd, likes to be near me and she also likes to chew books. Rather than have her constantly perch on my shoulder, I set up a TV tray near my desk and gave her a book and a small box to chew and a crock of toys. This allows her to be near me but also encourages her to occupy her time in a more independent way. In this video you can see how she keeps active and enjoys this time spent outside of her cage while engaged in independent activity of chewing and shredding the book.
Of note: The box provided on the TV tray is of a size and design I am comfortable will not trigger nesting activity in Byrd. You can see more examples and read more about boxes at
Bobbing For Veggies
I had a tub of apples soaking on the counter in vegetable wash when Buddy landed on the tub and leaned his beak in to get an apple. I removed the tub with vegetable wash and replaced it with a tub of clean water with some fruit and vegetables that had been washed and rinsed floating inside. Budding had a great time bobbing for apples and vegetables in the tub. This is an activity we've continued. When I'm preparing their salad mix, I will sometimes place vegetables in a tub of clean water for my parrots to play with. It is an easy to set up activity and one that they enjoy.
Of note: This is an activity that should be directly supervised and may not be suitable for all parrots, especially smaller parrots that might fall in the tub.
I am always searching for new ideas for keeping my parrots active. Many of my more successful attempts at keeping a parrot active happened quite by accident. A lot of them evolved from giving my birds the opportunity to participate in my own day-to-day activities around the house.
You can get one of Echo's paintings by donating to the Library of Parrot Behavior Project
Train an Activity
Stephanie Edlund trained her Timneh African Grey parrot, Echo, to paint. Echo seems to enjoy painting and is getting to be quite the little artist.
Day to Day Activities
I try to include my parrots in my day-to-day activities as much as possible. Three of my birds are accomplished flyers. For these flighted parrots this is easy as the ability to fly affords them the opportunity to make choices about where they want to go in the house and what activity they want to participate in.
It takes a more concentrated effort on my part for me to include my birds who cannot fly in my daily activities. I have to take the time during the course of my day to stop and include them. I have three parrots who cannot fly. I don't worry that I include all three in each activity every time. But during the course of my day I try to include one parrot in one activity. I may bring Elvis into the office while I check e-mails. Byrd may get the opportunity to hitch a ride on the laundry basket and watch me fold laundry. In the evening I would bring Irving into the kitchen and where he can watch me prepare dinner and steal a slice of vegetable if he chooses. I find that affording them as short as a ten to fifteen minute period of varied activity, outside of their cage and in different rooms of the house, can provide substantial enrichment and have a significantly positive impact on their lives.
This is a fun little video for me. I had the most difficult time coming up with enrichment ideas for the little birds. Somewhere in my internet searching I stumbled upon a suggestion to offer leaf bathing opportunities.
I had placed leafy greens woven in the cage bars before for the parrots to chew on. But I hadn't thought of hanging wet leafy greens from the top of the cage. Watch what happens when I do. I'm not sure how much leaf bathing I got - but I definitely got interest and activity.
Zorba discovers an unusual activity that he finds particularly entertaining.