Does your bird ignore all their toys? It’s quite common for our companion birds to value our companionship more than the toys hanging in their cage. It’s our job to help our birds live full and complete lives, and that includes playing on their own in their cage. Especially if you are gone at work during the day!

If your bird refuses to play with any toy, and you have tried them ALL, listen up! The right toy for the right bird can be a long journey. In addition to that, many birds need TEACHING. They may not know how to interact with toys, or why they should bother. We can help them learn the value and FUN in their toys!

The starting point for most birds is wherever they currently are. Some birds may have more skills than others. Regardless, all our birds eat food. We will start with that behaviour, eating out of a bowl. By taking an action they already know (eating food from a bowl), and slowly shaping that into more movement, more exploration, and more interaction with toys, we can reinforce their exploration.

Place four food bowls in your birds cage. Put the four dishes on the side of the cage your bird usually eats, near the usual spot. Take their daily diet and split it into the four dishes. Your bird will have to move left and right to look into each dish to find their daily food. That’s it! Start SMALL.

Once your bird is checking all four dishes, try moving them further apart, or in different spots around the cage. Make the dishes easily accessible. The small amount of movement will turn into larger walking and climbing throughout the cage to check all four dishes. Increase the distance and variability as your bird progresses!

If your bird has success at this level, increase the difficulty. Perhaps a small foot toy in each bowl, along with the daily diet. Perhaps a balled-up piece of paper. Perhaps hang a toy beside the bowls, or hanging above the bowls. ALWAYS ensure your bird is eating! If a step is too challenging, find an easier alternative. Move at your birds’ pace!

When your bird has demonstrated proficiency in looking and finding food pieces throughout the cage, you can try using a foraging toy, or hiding foods inside a toy. I encourage you to move at your birds pace. Have fun!