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Chrysocome

Captive Foraging With Squee

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Chrysocome    0

This is an offshoot of this thread (or mods please move it if that is more appropriate)

 

I am starting a new project with my budgies. After working at a bird vet clinic and seeing lots of birds with behavioural and obesity problems, I want to make sure my birds are getting more stimulation and exercise - and it makes sense to do both at the same time.

 

My lovely assistant Squee will demonstrate. First to reiterate the whole idea- I used to do this much more often with them so they knew what the deal was. To start with I placed a sunflower seed (very naughty of me, I know, but it's the one thing they would practically kill for) inside a piece of unbleached paper towel, wadded it up and attached it to their green peg. This works well for my budgies because they know that the green peg gives them food (a great way to introduce new food, by the way, if they learn to explore one object every time it's there) and they love tearing paper to bits regardless of whether or not there's a food surprise in there.

 

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Yum yum!

 

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The other great thing is that even though she got the seed out, she proceeded to play and tear at the paper looking for more until it was in bits on the ground.

 

Next I placed a few on the ceiling so she had to climb and hang to get it.

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Squee worked it out fast - she was on the roof before I'd finished putting it up.

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At this point I started putting random food items in there - carrot, bok choy, pellets (which they caught onto suprisingly fast), oats etc.

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Next I threaded it through their star toy. This took Squee quite a while to work out, but I didn't catch photos of it because my battery died. Basically, she tried to get at it from the top but couldn't get it to stay up there because gravity was pulling it down. It was also hard to stop the individual balls spinning and the whole star spinning.

 

She eventually worked out she could get at it from the bottom.

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It's still hard because the ball keeps moving.

 

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Budgies have funny tongues!

 

Finally, I clipped it to a hanging toy.

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Streeeetch!

 

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Argh, why isn't this working??

 

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I can pick it up but can't get a grip...

 

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Grr!

 

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Hang on, what if I...

 

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Ah hah! Nom nom nom!

 

That's all for now. My next plan is to put a few in at a time, with all different types of food and some that are empty, so they spend all day looking through them, shredding, and keeping active and stimulated. I will share my progress and hope to inspire others to start a similiar project. I'm also trying to prove that you don't need to buy fancy or expensive toys to keep your birds mentally stimulated, active, and to prevent health problems related to boredom or obesity.

 

:P

Edited by Chrysocome

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Sailorwolf    0

That is really cool Chryso. Thanks for sharing. We all know what my budgies are getting in their cage tomorrow!

Just recently I gave my budgies a small branch of eucalyptus leaves each and they absolutely destroyed them. All I found the next day were little tiny pieces at the bottom of their cages. So that is another fun thing for them to do and is nutritious also I believe?

Edited by Sailorwolf

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maesie    0

Excellent thread! Great photos... and :P their tongues make me laugh too!!!

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I love the concept of captive foraging, I use things like grass seedheads and I thread them into strange places for them to pull them out of, hang branches around and I'm in the process of inventing new toys at the moment which I'm going to incorporate gumnuts filled with seed into!

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Elly    0

Enrichment for any animal is awesome and really keeps them busy :D, that is wonderful.

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Chrysocome    0

Maybe I should change the title - Milly has caught on!

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Maybe she just wanted to see what Squee was fussing about.

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What I did was pack a wooden skewer with all different foods and some empty ones, and hung it up before I went to uni. It was mostly in pieces on the ground when I got back home ;) I hope it took them longer than a few minutes to get through it though!

 

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Elly    0

that is awesome, if you want the title changed let me know and I can do that.

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Sunnie    0

Great post! They look like they are having a ball exploring their "surprises" :hi:

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Chrysocome    0

:question:

 

Milly and Squee are now busy shredding paper looking for food. They'll also go mad and climb all over the walls calling when they see me coming with paper. This is really great. However, I think they work out how to get to the hanging bits of paper a bit too quickly now. So I've been thinking about how to take it to a new level.

 

I've come up with a new project which I'll put in place at the end of the week, once they well and truly understand what the paper packages mean. This project should take me another week, maybe two, to get it to the final stage.

 

A roll for lunch

 

Phase One

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This is an introductory toy. It's to get them used to the cardboard roll and begin to understand this new concept. The package is big and hangs out of the roll, easily accessible. Inside is a 'jackpot' surprise, a big spray of millet, which they both love.

 

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It is held in place with a wooden skewer. The ends hang out a bit so it doesn't roll around much. First I'll clip it to the wall with a green peg. If it still freaks them out I'll cover it lightly with paper. Then I'll make the package smaller and smaller so they have to reach more into the roll. When they get used to it I'll put it on the ground, where it will move from side to side as they try to reach inside.

 

Phase Two

This is a bit more advanced. The cardboard roll is longer so they actually have to stick their heads in to get to the prize. The skewer is cut short so it rolls around very easily.

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Hopefully this thing rolling all over the place while they work at ripping the paper will make it a bit more difficult for them.

 

Phase Three

I'll cover it in layers of paper so they have to work for a while to get to the roll itself.

 

Stay tuned :laughter:

Edited by Chrysocome

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Elly    0

This is awesome Chrysocome :question:, I am going to add PIN this topic for a while so others can see it all the time and get ideas.

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It's just fantasic to see you put so much thought and time into your budgies, and I'm sure heaps of members are going to use your ideas (I know I am).

Thanks so much for sharing :question: .

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Chrysocome    0

Thank you :)

 

I've just realised that it was already a given that my birds knew what the paper meant. I started today with my conure Oz, and he was ripping up paper looking for food in about ten minutes (but he's quite a food-motivated little guy!). Tomorrow I'll write a 'getting started' post about how I taught him the paper had food in it.

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JimmyBanks    0

Great idea's :) must implement some of this when lip and len return with kids in tow...

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Chrysocome    0

Jwancia, that was my original plan, but when I picked one up it had glue left where the paper was stuck on. I was a bit worried about it so I avoided it. Instead I used the remainder of a roll of foil (or glad wrap or anything like that). No glue used at all. If you have a type of toilet paper that doesn't leave glue behind it would be okay I think. Or maybe try and take that top layer of paper off if that works. An alternative would be to use a paper or even plastic disposable cup.

 

 

So maybe I lied a little about starting next week - I just thought it was way too easy for them to shred the skewer toy and be done in less than an hour. The Foraging Roll v1.0 went in today.

 

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I had to tempt her with a chunk of millet just once, but after that it was simple.

Edited by Chrysocome

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Elly    0

have you added one of these pictures for January Budgie of the Month, they are so good and I love that you are keeping us updated on their progress this is wonderful, thank you.

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jwancia    0

My first attempt. Sprouts in a tissue... didnt quite get the idea to rip it open

 

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Chrysocome    0

Way to go jwancia - keep it up, they'll soon figure it out. Myself, I prefer the paper towel because it rips very easily.

 

The behaviourist in me is absolutely fascinated. Alongside clicker training my conure, the captive foraging thing is going amazingly. Squee keeps exceeding my expectations, then Milly follows suit.

 

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Munch munch munch - a good sound coming from the budgies' room.

 

It's fascinating how they learn in different ways. Squee has figured out a lot of the different ways to solve problems by herself. She's naturally inquisitive and will always investigate when I bring new things. Milly is a bit more conservative and apprehensive of new things.

 

So Milly watches Squee....

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Thinks about it...

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Then does the same

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I also moved the foraging roll to a new, more difficult position.

 

You want me to do what??

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It's quite hard because not only does the log spin on its axis, it also moves vertically when Squee touches it.

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The following is a video about showing bits of how Squee worked it out (while Milly watches). After about ten minutes of unsuccessfully going at it from the top, getting more frustrated, she screamed and flapped at it, sulked in the corner for a bit, then went to an easier package on the other side of the cage. She tried again from the top for another five minutes. Another tantrum. She finally went and tackled it from a new angle. Success this time. She spent ten minutes chewing at the log getting the food and making sure all of the paper was in pieces.

 

http://s8.photobucket.com/albums/a14/Chrysocome/pets/bbf/2008/?action=view&current=captive.flv

 

She consistently got it right every time after that.

 

They're amazing little birds aren't they? Most people underestimate their intelligence but it's plain as day to me. Bird-brained? Hardly!

Edited by Chrysocome

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JimmyBanks    0

They are doing really well. I'll have to try this when i get mine back :P

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Chrysocome    0
:P Be sure to let us know how it goes! Edited by Chrysocome

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Chrysocome    0

Argh. So we've taken a few steps backwards in terms of controlling my budgies' weight. I went away for a couple of weeks and my parents looked after them - meaning non stop seed and nothing else. Sigh. I couldn't take them with me so no free flight, clicker training or captive foraging either. As you can see from these pictures, they very quickly put the weight back on.

 

Back on the diet and exercise they go.

 

I should mention that Squee is onto Phase Two of my foraging log concept (big log) and we're soon going to Phase Three (covering the ends in paper).

I've come up with another variation of the log too, I'm going to string it up and cover the bottom so they only way to get to it is from above. I know my conure will figure out quickly to haul it up by the string, but we'll see what my budgies think of it. I love watching the gears turn in their little heads.

 

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Here is Version 2 of the log - it's almost as big as a budgie. The skewer is cut short so that it rolls easily. Here it's stuck on a chain so it rotates and moves up and down at the same time.

 

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Squee knows what to do with it. Of course it's more difficult than previously - it's harder to grip and she has to stick her head in further.

 

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It's interesting that she has learnt to make use of her feet so much, like she's suddenly aware that she can use them as a tool.

 

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LOL. (Caption contest, anyone? :rofl:)

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JimmyBanks    0
IMG_5741.jpg

 

I thought that was a 4 legged budgie for a second there... I could see the leg holding the toilet roll, then I looked down and saw 3 more!!!

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Chrysocome    0

JB- LOL! Some kind of strange budgie gryphon?

 

No photos currently but while I'm here I thought I would update with some new concepts I put in. In the other pinned captive foraging thread I posted about the natural bark toy I made - I will explain in more detail once I put it in their cage and see it at work.

 

A new thing I tried was this: I put in some thick natural eucalyptus perches with lots of loose bark for chewing/ripping/shredding fun. I drilled some holes into these, some going partway though and some all the way. The holes are of varying sizes, but most of the hole are perfect for accomodating a wooden skewer, which seems to be my best friend when it comes to captive foraging. Through these holes, I weave seeding grasses, or shove in seeds, dried fruit, the occasional sunflower, bits of veggies in the shallow, broad holes (I don't want it going off) etc. I also pass a short (blunted) wooden skewer through some points (pointing in directions where I think there is little chance of them hurting themselves), then impale fruit, veggies and goodies wrapped in paper for them to chew through. They have to work to get their food, which is presented to them in a different way every day, so it gives them a bit of daily enrichment. When the perches are destroyed from the chewing and digging to get the food, I chuck it out, go for a walk, and find a new branch to do it all again. Nothing but ten minutes of sawing and drilling and I keep my birds entertained - simple ;)

 

I'm also going to string up covered paper cups of pellets and seed, alongside the foraging toys and perches, so I'm thinking about getting rid of the normal fixed seed dishes entirely.

Edited by Chrysocome

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