Birds spend the majority of their day searching for food and water. It is a normal and integral part of healthy behavior. In captivity birds have food and water at their disposal and have no need to perform this instinctual activity. Therefore, we must provide our pet birds with activities that will promote and foster a healthy mind. For an example of foraging toys, please click here. You can also visit www.birdsafestore.com.
- Remove any toys or objects that your bird is particularly fond of.
- Remove all mirrors or surfaces where your bird may see her own reflection and could interpret as another bird.
- Rearrange the cage: toys, perches, location in the house, etc., so bird will focus on this rather than laying eggs.
- Separate the egg laying bird from any other birds in the household.
- Remove any substrate your bird can use as nesting material.
- Decrease daylight hours your bird receives to 8-10 hours per day.
If your bird continues to lay eggs after these changes have been implemented, see your avian veterinarian to discuss medical management.
The goal of these games is to try to promote a flock mentality in your household and to try to get away from any pair bonding or mate relationship that may already exist between you and your bird.
Game 1. House Tour – This game works well for hand tamed birds and birds with capacity for vocabulary. It promotes proper social interactions and mimics the interaction between parents and young fledglings as they are investigating their environment. Birds learn how to react to objects in their environment by the way their parents or other members of the flock react. This can be very useful to teach birds about dangerous objects in the house or desensitize overly fearful or phobic birds.
Example 1: If you react with fear to the pot of boiling water or hot stove, your bird may develop a negative association with the pot of boiling water or stove and avoid it. Conversely, this can work for overly fearful birds or work as an activity for developing proper flock interactions.
Example 2: Show your bird the clock and say “clock”. Show the bird the television and say “TV and so on…. Eventually, some birds may associate the object with the word you use to describe it and will react to it in a similar manner as demonstrated by you.
After a while, you can go around the house and give pop “quizzes”. If you bird gets it right or reacts in an appropriate manner, reward you bird with praise and a treat that he/she loves. Remember the grade is not what is important, it is the time you are spending with your bird.
Game 2. Flash Cards – Another variation of the house tour is flash cards. You may have cards that have colors, objects, or pictures that you or the bird may like. Again after being shown the cards, the bird may associate the object or color with word you use to describe it. You may give pop “quizzes” and reward you bird just like with the house tour.
Game 3. Trick Training – If you see a behavior or action that you would like to get on command, reward the bird every time he/she does it. At the same time you reward the behavior, associate the behavior with a hand signal, gesture or word. Over time the positive reinforcement will increase the frequency of the desired behavior and the bird will associate the cue, gesture or word with that desired behavior. Again, this takes time, patience and consistency. As you and your bird’s confidence grow, there is no end to what you can have on command!
Game 4 . Warm Potato . – This is a game developed by Sally Blanchard. Basically it involves all members of your household and helps to promote a “flock mentality”. The basic idea of the game is that all members of the household stand in a circle and the bird is passed between all of the members of the family. The bird is gently handed off from person to person. As the bird is passed off, the bird is rewarded with positive praise and/or treat. Over time, the bird becomes familiar with all members of the household and the chance of a pair bond relationship developing with only one member of the family is decreased.