Our pet birds are such beautiful, enchanting creatures that sometimes it’s hard not to sit and stare at them all day long. But if you think a bird is a pet that’s only meant to be looked at — a decorative addition to your home rather than a member of the family — you’re dead wrong.
Birds are living, breathing creatures that need love, care and attention to ensure that they stay happy and healthy. They also need regular activity and plenty of mental stimulation to ensure that their body and mind stay in tip-top condition, so let’s look at how you can give your pet’s body and mind all the stimulation they need.
The importance of exercise
Birds need to fly — that’s a pretty obvious statement to lead with, but you might be surprised how many owners forget that their birds need a regular chance to do what they were designed to do. With this in mind, it’s vital that you choose a cage with enough room for your pet to move around and engage in all his natural behaviours.
At the same time, many species will only truly thrive if given the opportunity to do some regular flying outside the cage. Whether that’s exploring your home or even some outdoors flying for a species capable of finding its way home again, the chance to spread his wings is one your pet will seize with relish.
Exercise for the mind
Okay, so physical exercise is important for a healthy bird, but did you know that your pet will also need plenty of mental stimulation and challenges to boost his overall wellbeing? If not, your bird will have a much poorer quality of life and could develop a wide range of behavioural problems.
Flying is one way you can improve your bird’s mental health, but another great way to engage your pet’s brain is to include a variety of playful and interactive toys in his cage. From ladders and swings to mirrors and bells, the right toys will help prevent boredom and encourage your bird to put his thinking power to use.
It’s also important to remember that some species of bird, for example Budgies, are particularly social animals. With this in mind, it’s often recommended that you keep two birds together rather than isolating just one bird from the rest of the world. Giving your pet a playmate can increase his quality of life and work wonders for his wellbeing.
Choosing the right bird toys
Every bird cage needs toys — not just one dirty mirror or a half-hearted attempt at a homemade swing, but as many toys as you can fit without making the environment too cramped or overwhelming.
There’s a massive range of toys available to help keep your feathered friend entertained and stimulated, so it’s important that you know what each type of toy is good for. Exercise toys are great for ensuring that your bird stays active, and include ladders to climb, swings to swing on and bells to ring. Perches also give them a place to sit, stand, rest and take in their surrounds from a different angle.
Wooden chew toys are ideal for beak and tooth maintenance and ensuring that your bird stays healthy. They also offer a useful outlet for the pent-up energy of bored birds, and come in a range of shapes and sizes to suit the beaks of different birds.
Interactive foraging toys encourage your bird to engage his brain, making him work for his food or to earn a tasty treat. Even an assortment of loose wooden toys in a cage can give your pet the perfect opportunity to indulge his desire to ‘redecorate’ his cage just the way he likes it.
Once you start shopping for bird toys you might be surprised to discover just how many options are available and just how easy it is to keep buying new things. If you end up buying more than you need, cycling toys in and out of ‘rotation’ in your bird’s cage will help to keep them fresh and interesting for longer.
But with the right toys on hand and a commitment to providing the mental and physical stimulation your pet needs, you can help your pet stay healthy, content and live a fulfilling life.