WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
Founder, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Parrot Division (www.iaabc.org); Former, Education Vice President, Phoenix Landing Foundation (www.phoenixlanding.org)
Editor’s note: The bird community lost Liz Wilson when she passed away on April 13, 2013. Liz Wilson was a certified veterinary technician (CVT) and a Parrot Behavior Consultant who had been living and working with parrots for over 40 years. She wrote the Parrot Psychology column for Bird Talk Magazine, and has authored or co-authored eight textbook chapters on parrot behavior. She also has two books of article reprints,the Handbook of Avian Articles – Vol. II & I.
“I recently had a chance to try out some foraging devices made by Caitec with my own blue and gold macaw Sam as well as with various parrot species owned by friends of mine. What fun!
My own Sam is crazy about her Foraging Wheel and uses it every day. It keeps her happily busy for hours at a time. She is still working on the Foraging Capsule and has yet to figure it out, which is great, as it is keeping her occupied.
My avian veterinarian tried out various sizes of Foraging Systems with three birds: her blue-fronted Amazon, Jenday and Senegal. All three birds are having a wonderful time with these – especially the Senegal, who had never learned to forage before. My vet is hoping to sell the Foraging Systems through her hospital, as they are so easy that she is certain her clients will follow through and use them.
My friend’s Congo grey is also very happy with her Foraging System, but her absolute favorite is the Foraging Sphere.
Caitec Creative Foraging Systems are designed to provide foraging for a parrot’s entire diet throughout the day, which is the most natural way to feed them. Properly trained, parrots are happy foraging for all their food, not just treats. A friend’s grey is an excellent forager, happily foraging despite the same exact diet being available in her food bowls. Truly, foraging has become a self-rewarding behavior for her, and this is the ideal I am seeking with my Sam.
From my experience, the Caitec products are great systems for helping parrots keep mentally healthy and happily occupied, and I can’t wait to try all their other foraging products.”
“In the wild, parrots spend 60-70% of their day foraging, in stark contrast to the typical 15-30 minutes most captive parrots spend eating from an abundant food bowl. Companion parrot owners need to find a way to replicate natural foraging behavior and keep their birds mentally stimulated and busy.
Many captive parrots need to be taught to forage, and this process requires active participation by caregivers. With the initial offering of foraging opportunities, birds may likely treat the object as a toy — at first, until they have learned to forage. The learned behavior is the process of foraging, which involves the manipulation and discovery of objects to get at a food source. Once the behavior is learned and the object is associated with food, the curiosity and destruction phase ends and is replaced by true foraging for the purpose of eating.
One of the features that will likely make Creative Foraging Systems™ of interest to birds is that the containers look similar to traditional bowls, and therefore many birds (having received traditional feeding bowls in the past) will likely have a predisposed curiosity. Once birds learn to forage, new objects are readily explored and viewed as potential food
sources. It is the responsibility of caregivers to make obtaining the food ever more challenging, since the process of foraging stimulates brain activity and simply keeps the bird busy throughout the day. Once the birds readily forage, owners can easily make the system more difficult by having multiple stations throughout the cage, with limited amounts in certain places — in this way, Creative Foraging Systems™ replicates experience in the wild in which the animal doesn’t always “win” when seeking a food source. The hanging objects make it more difficul t to get to the food source, which again replicate many wild challenges (e.g., hanging from branches, digging into things awkwardly, manipulating objects, etc.).
Creative Foraging Systems™ makes it incredibly easy for caregivers to provide foraging opportunities to their birds. If it’s difficult for most companion parrot owners, then they won’t do it. I am really proud to support you and everything you’ve done for parrots – this kind of innovation is direly needed, and I hope you’ll keep it coming. Your contribution to parrot welfare will be enormous!