How do I get my bird to accept the Foraging Unit?
As with any new item placed in the parrot's cage, a Foraging Unit should be gradually introduced to the parrot. Place it first outside the cage, at a distance
where the parrot can see it, but still feel safe. The next step is to put a few treats on the unit and place it within reach of the bird, but still outside the cage. Once the bird accepts the feeder nearby, position it conveniently near a favorite perch inside the cage. When the bird starts to interact with the feeder and gradually gain confidence with
it, you can move it to more challenging places within the cage, eventually even hanging it from the center with no perches nearby!
How do I get my bird to use the Foraging Unit?
At first the rotating disc on the unit can be wedged open with a favorite dry food item, like dried fruit, nuts, or a seed, with other dried treats in the chamber behind it. This way, once the bird removes the treat, the disc will rotate to the closed position and the parrot will then figure out how to manipulate the disc.
What kind of foods can I put into the feeder?
Only dried foods should be used to fill the unit and this will minimize friction so that the mechanism will work properly. Items such as pellets, seeds, nutmeats, dried fruits, or grains like uncooked millet, uncooked brown rice, etc. In the units with drawers, to complete the daily diet, you can use moist hot or cold foods such as cut up fruits and
vegetables, hot food mixtures, oatmeal; be creative! At first the food item should be smaller than the opening so that the bird can easily retrieve it, but as the bird becomes proficient at cleaning out the feeder, make the food sizes more challenging.
How do I fill the feeders?
To minimize the mess from spillage, we suggest that you fill the unit on a large pan or cookie sheet. When preparing a cockatiel or budgie feeder, a spoon can be used for faster filling. Units with open chambers can be filled through the top. On units with tops, unscrew the knob to expose the food chambers, fill and then carefully line up and tighten the knob
tightly after filling. This will prevent the unit from falling since it has a built in swivel.
How do I clean my new Foraging Unit?
All units should be handled on a non-abrasive surface like wood or plastic to eliminate scratching the surface of the unit. All designs are dishwasher safe and can also be washed easily by hand. Dry thoroughly by turning the unit upside down for drainage.
After my bird becomes proficient with the Foraging Unit, what can I do to make things more challenging for him?
Since it is our obligation to maximize the natural foraging activity there are many additional complexities that can be added. The Unit can be positioned in the most complex area in the cage or aviary, with additional "furniture" placed in the way to complicate access to the moving parts. By adding length to the hanging mechanism it becomes harder for the parrot to balance, so they have to work harder.
The variable that is the most fun is the caretaker's ability to creatively rotate the food items. Parrots become increasingly excited because they can't see what new tidbit or treat will come up next! The parrot will never become bored with eating, even though
foraging is an important and naturally occurring activity. Never let your parrot dictate the pattern of foraging, as some individuals might become too smart or lazy to work if the foraging is made easy.
How effective is a Foraging Unit?
In one study, done with two Blue and Gold Macaws (Ara Macao) which were caged together. A Large Hookbill #2016 Unit was used over the period of several weeks, filled with a mixture of seeds and nuts. Approximately three minutes was spent filling the feeder, and it was installed in the cage at 8AM. It remained in the cage until 6PM, and a pan containing fruits and vegetables was then offered. The foraging time averaged four to six hours during this time period. Under other circumstances, it would take the birds 30 to 40 minutes eating from a food dish. This is a complete breakthrough in environmental enrichment for parrots.
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