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neoow

Foraging

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I'm trying to encourage Alfie to forage more for food. It's a natural behaviour of African Grey's (and other parrots of course) and a good one to encourage as it keeps them active and makes them work that bit harder for their food.

Tonight I made a foraging tray and put it on Alfie's shelves. I put some fruit and veg and other tasty morsels in the bottom of a tray then filled it up with shredded paper and foot toys. He had to root around and pull the paper and toys out before he could get to the treats. It kept him busy for quite some time. Most of it (including the food) ended up over the sofa but he seemed to enjoy digging through the tray.

I have a couple of foraging toys in his cage (a buffet ball and a wheel that he has to spin and line up the holes with the treats in different compartments) and I'm thinking of putting a tray at the bottom of his cage for him to forage in.

I'm also toying with the idea of getting some bird safe plants and putting them in his cage (whilst supervised) so he can dig through those and pull them apart. I just need to be a little bit careful because I also have two cats- so I would have to make sure they either can't get at the plants or that they are cat safe as well as bird safe as my two cats get into everything! (they are indoor cats)

Do you provide foraging opportunities for your birds? If so, what do you set up for them?

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Edited by neoow
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I have hidden things inside plain coffee filters inside a cardboard box but I let them watch me wrap the treats so they understand the presentation of something into their cage. Have also gotten sterile sand and hidden almonds in the shell so they have to dig.

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I have tried wrapping treats in paper but Alfie prefers to fling them around rather than grab them and tear them apart. Even if I show him the treat and wrap it in front of him he will still fling it as far as he can!

I found some great little boxes recently which are perfect for foraging. I fill the smaller box with treats and paper, put it in the larger box and top it with treats and paper and Alfie has loads of fun shredding the box and finding some tasty treats. I have a small stockpile of the boxes at the moment as they are the perfect size to fit on his shelf and the fact there is a box within a box gives him an extra challenge too. (plus it makes more mess for me to clear up!)

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Timber does the same when I wrap treats, but he loves boxes!

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Snickers (CAG) just discovered lima beans (frozen/thawed for him) and seems to enjoy them.

I never thought to offer limas before.  I am more of a pizza and subs eater, so I have to buy "healthy" food just for him and the bearded dragon.

Anyway, limas were a huge hit!  And this from a CAG whose middle name is "Skeptical."  lol

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Timber loves butter beans (the big lima type bean). Than again, beans are one food he will eat cooked, so I guess that is no surprise. He isn't as fond of limas, but will eat them once in awhile.

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I've never offered a foraging bowl with non-foods.  Not to say Snickers doesn't put non-foods (usually shredded cardboard/paper --even cotton rope or fabric bits) in his dishes sometimes!

I do try to offer a varied bowl through-out the day.  And for his main meal, I completely cheat and add thawed frozen veggies to his fresh mix -- plus rice which he prefers over pasta (though I do toss in some pasta in a few times a week with mixed results).  He always has a bowl of Zupreem pellets available in his other dish (which he likes okay) and I offer a tablespoon of seed a few times a week (so thankful he's not a seed junkie!!!)

His fresh veg/fruit bowl (incl some frozen veg) I feel needs to be removed within 4 hours or so (sometimes sooner).  Thankfully he's usually eaten 50 - 75% of it by then.  Don't want him to get sick eating food that sat out too long.

For treats, he's fairly happy with Cheerios, peanuts, raisins and unsweetened banana chips.  

I just try to keep something interesting in his dish through-out the day (hence treats).  I also share my meals when they appropriate for him (not pizza, sorry Snickers!)

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All I can say is, 'ew' to lima beans. Personally I find them absolutely disgusting. Whenever my folks served them for dinner while growing up, I'd have to sit at the table until I finished them. Gag city! Eventually I learned to sneak them into my napkin, tuck them inside my clothes and then take them upstairs to flush down the toilet. Did the same thing with peas. Must be a texture thing.

To this day my fids have never tasted a lima bean. LOL!

 

 

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I haven't actually eaten lima beans.  I'm okay with green peas (sweet peas) but I can't tolerate field peas or black-eyed peas (or most beans, in general).

Just buy frozen, (pour out a some to thaw for your grey) then put rest of frozen green peas & limas back in the freezer immediately.

My grey eats way healthier than I do most days.

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Alfie is a seed junkie unfortunately, so I have to keep coming up with creative ways to entice him to eat healthy. If I put it in his bowl he'll mostly fling it, though I did have some success with a mini pumpkin last year. He will pick at a few bits and pieces and then toss it as far as he can.

I use a skewer and hang foods in his cage so it's more difficult for him to discard them. This works occassionally and he will try some new foods that way.

The foraging tray idea worked quite well. He did fling most of it but he was at least willing to nibble a few bits and pieces.

I'm toying with the idea of getting a dehydrator because he seems to prefer dried veggies and fruit over anything else.

Pellets have always been an absolute no go. I've tried all sorts of makes sizes and colours and they are always rejected, despite my perseverance.

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Lima beans should not be fed frequently they have some bird unfriendly chemical componants." Lima beans contain a cyanogenic glycoside called 'phaseolunatin'. Beans which are grown in the US contain less than 0.01% which does not cause a problem. " from Dr. Lisa

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@Greywings -- I know in googling lima beans it said they were too acidic for me to offer them to my bearded dragon -- didn't know about any risk to parrots -- thanks for the tip!

Luckily (like most here) I offer a variety of veg/fruit so no one food is his primary diet.

@neoow -- pumpkins and squash types are a favourite here!

I know a breeder once told me that a parrot will not let itself starve to death (no, I haven't and won't test this theory to a dangerous end!).  But I did start lessening the amount of seeds I offered until he just had to try a few other things.  And I did offer 'gimmes' like Cheerios, peanuts, bananas, apple, raisins, etc -- things most any parrot will eat if they even slightly taste it.  Mostly, I wanted my parrot to learn to at least 'try' new things.  Also, it helps if I am eating the same foods and share mine with my parrot -- that flocking behaviour at work, I suppose.  (And nope -- I didn't try this with limas and other beans/peas since I HATE them).  But as long as a parrot's favourite food of choice (like seeds) is consistently offered in large enough quantities, I figure there is little motivation for them to try something new.  Love the the skewer toy -- I haven't used mine in ages, but it did make my healthy offerings more interesting -- like a toy. 

Hope your guy will try some more interesting (and healthier) foods!!!  Mine views pellets as a snack (I don't offer pellets as primary diet).  But like to have pellets available 24/7 in case he gets the munchies when I'm not around.

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The skewer works every day for us. I put his fresh peas in the pod, broccoli and cauliflower on it. He will at least nibble on some of it. If I put them in a bowl they will be untouched all day.

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Yes I kept reducing seeds and adding more pellets. I tried offering pellets as a treat. I tried adding them to his foraging wheel once he got the hang of how to get the food out.

He ignored the foraging wheel until I put his regular food/treats back in. He managed to pick his bowl up and dump the entire contents of it whenever it had pellets in. 😂 If there were any seeds present he would dig them out and eat those. I tried crumbling the pellets over his seed/veg/fruit but he wasn't having any of it.

I pretended to eat them myself whilst making excited and happy sounds. He just stared blankly at me.

I have tried every brand, every shape, every colour and quite possibly every trick.

I've removed all other foods except the pellets for short periods at a time (around the time he normally dives into his food bowl or foraging wheel) but he was having none of it. Either dumped the contents or sat there rattling his bowl (his sign for 'FEED ME NOW!'). I couldn't bring myself to leave the pellets in there for nothing else for a whole day as I honestly believe he would starve himself before eating them. 🙄

So I keep offering fruit and veg- whether fresh, cooked or dried. He doesn't eat a lot of it (apart from dried fruit/veg like I mentioned earlier) but at least he picks at some of it. I think I'd rather he ate actual fruit and veg over pellets anyway. Not too keen on the whole processed/man made food idea.

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@neoow Above and beyond -- your bird is too smart!  I loved you pretending to eat his food yourself while making excited happy sounds!   Greys are smart enough to rule the world -- they must laugh at us sometimes!  ;)  

I do find if I am eating a meal (one I can share) it is the greatest joy to my grey to eat from my plate.  Esp if he thinks he's stealing food by 'grabbing' an item (when really, I was sharing anyway).  I know, I know -- human germs -- so I usually just push some 'clean' items to the edge of the plate for him to 'steal.' Although these days, I often just slide some of my meal into his dish and he is happy that we're eating together (flocking, I suppose);  parrots always think human food is superior to their own food.  (If we humans would just eat more healthy in the first place, ours are really the same diet in many cases).  :)

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