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Easy Captive Foraging Idea

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I had an idea while cleaning out my room today...


Background on captive foraging

A bird's activity in the wild is divided into three categories: 1) foraging (looking for food), 2) socialising (interacting with flock members and mates) and 3) maintenance (preening, bathing and resting). As you might know from threads on captive foraging in this section of the forum, budgies in the wild would spend something like six hours of their day flying vast distances looking for food. Food isn't usually freely available either, they might need to dig or rip up things in order to get to the food. When they're not doing that, they socialise with their flock members and rest during the day.


Pet birds take about five minutes to climb down to the food bowl, pick out their favourite seed (usually the most fattening because they taste the best), eat more than is required of their activity for the day, then go back up on their perch. They spend the remaining six hours of the day doing... what? They may do behaviour 2 (socialise) and play with their toys, other budgies or with people, but can they really do this for six hours? The other behaviour they can choose to do is to 3 (maintenance - preen and rest). So they spend much of their day not doing much, getting very bored (and birds can't actually tell you they're experiencing this), which eventually leads to mental stress and/or obesity. (Can you imagine having nothing to do but sit in a room, play with the same old toys and maybe chat with a friend once in a while - all day - for your entire life?). It is well established that obesity leads to liver disease and shortened life span.


The idea of captive foraging is to increase the time they spend looking for food, like they would be in the wild. It's natural and good for them. This reduces boredom and increases their activity. It gives them something to do and it simulates a natural environment. It is also very rewarding and fun for an owner to help set this up. Anything we can do to increase their foraging activity (even if it just means they spend longer picking out their favourite seed) can help them.


So here is my idea.


You will need:

  • A packet of plastic beads.
    OR a packet of glass marbles, or glass pebbles (the ones for decorating vases or fish tanks), or recycled paper cat litter. Pretty much anything that's safe to chew on and takes up space.

That is all. I used beads. They cost me all of $1 at the reject sjop.


Make sure they're too big for your budgie to swallow. Pony beads or bigger are best.


Step 1.

If your bird is a neophobe and won't go anywhere near anything new, put a single bead into their food bowl. That's all. See how they react to it. If it takes them the whole day to get used to it being there that's okay. Leave it like that for a few days if you like.


Step 2.

If your birds are like mine and will investigate anything new, put a few in their food bowl. Choose colours they're familiar with - mine love broccoli and carrots, therefore


...and a sunflower seed as a bribe!


Step 3.

Every day, put a few more beads in. Put in new colours slowly. Keep it the same until your birds get used to the change. It can take hours to the whole day. If your birds are really fearful of new things and you want to take it slow, change the bead number very slowly - even weekly - instead.



Step 4.

This is your goal. The aim is to have the volume of beads far outweigh the volume of seeds. They still have their normal amount of seed in there, but now there are beads in it too.



So what's the point?

In order to get to the seeds, your budgie has to shove all the beads aside, constantly. It can't just dive into the bowl and have free acess to all it wants. It has to spend time working for its food. Anything we can do to get them foraging- working for their food and making them spend longer looking for it- will keep their minds occupied for a bit longer.

If you're worried about your budgies chucking the beads out of the bowl and making a mess (I'm not, since this gives them something to do!) try using marbles, which they can't actually pick up.


Simple and effective. :rofl:

Edited by Chrysocome

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I think thats a very creative idea, not only do they have to work for there food when they are used to the different colour and shapes they'll a small and very fun game to play. I may take this into consideration.

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