By Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
Birds are flock animals that are used to living in groups of dozens to hundreds, making them very social creatures. Their social and active nature makes it necessary for them to spend some time out of their cages every day. Many bird owners wonder how much time should be spent with birds. The answer? As much as possible! We all have busy schedules, and certainly between summer vacations and other commitments throughout the year, our ability to spend time with our pet birds may be limited. But there are certainly things that you can do to keep your bird active, happy and entertained even when you can’t spend hours with him every day.
It is important for birds to spend some playtime outside of their cage. A play stand is a great place for birds to perch themselves when they aren’t in their cage. Play stands are available from pet stores and online in all different shapes and sizes. Try to choose one that is appropriate for your bird’s size, easy for him to climb around on and simple to keep clean. It should have a cup for food and treats, a place to hang toys and be light enough for you to transfer from room to room as you move around the house. It may take some time for you to train your bird to like this new play spot, but if you make it a fun location where he gets treats and toys, he’ll start to look forward to spending time there. You can even park the play stand next to the dinner table and allow your bird to eat with you, which most birds love to do, as they are very social eaters. The key is to ensure that you can keep an eye on him on the stand so that he doesn’t hop off and get into trouble or encounter potential dangers in the room, such as dogs and cats, open windows, lit stoves or fireplaces and more.
Keep Him Company
Birds want to feel like part of the family, including conversations. Spend some extra time talking to your bird, even when he’s in his cage. If you are home and can check off any to-do items in the room where your bird lives, try doing these activities around him and talking a bit as you go. If you talk to him a bit as you do your activity. That way, you’re giving him attention while getting things done.
Give Him Toys
Offer your bird things to do in his cage to keep him entertained. Providing him with foraging toys (such as paper towel rolls with hidden treats), keeping the TV on near the cage and hanging food in different spots around his cage are great ways to keep your bird active and mentally stimulated, even when no one is home paying attention to him. Birds make great companions for many years, but they need daily attention to prevent them from becoming bored and destructive, for example pulling out their feathers or screaming. While it’s great to spend hours every day holding and talking to your pet bird, most owners don’t have time for this. Following these simple steps with a play stand, more conversation and additional toys will help keep your bird occupied and entertained.