[ Part 4 of the Foraging Series ]
Part 1 of the Foraging Series asked the question: What Type of Foraging is BEST?
In an effort to answer that question I uncovered a scientific study that compares eleven different types of foraging enrichment devices (Part 2 & Part 3).
And what comes next?
Failures… foraging failures.
While the failure may be a lack of success on the part of your parrot it can be both amusing and educational for their human.
Oh What a Puzzle!
I knew within weeks of meeting her that Bingo was incredibly smart. She could quickly solve complex puzzles to avoid consuming any medication.
In fact Bingo is often too smart for her own good.
One quick example:
I carefully wrapped random shreddable items individually in paper so Bingo would get a ‘surprise’ when she tore through the paper. I came home to find the paper carefully lifted just enough for her to identify the item that was wrapped. Items she was interested in playing with got fully unwrapped but the others were never touched again.
My smart girl carefully considers her options before taking any action.
So it came as no small surprise that the first 4 puzzle foraging enrichment toys were (to varying degrees) failures.
First (possible) Failure:
Similar to Super Bird 4-way Forager tested in the study (Part 2 of the foraging series), this PVC foraging device seemed like an easy starting point.
I placed nutri-berries inside the PVP pipe while Bingo watched avidly.
I returned to find an empty PVC pipe and no plastic discs about an hour later. She had chewed off both discs that covered the pipe.
Second (sort of) Failure:
I placed nutri-berries inside the wood pot with the wood lid from CA Bird Nerds.
A short time later I returned to find a pot with no lid.
At this point I sensed a theme. Bingo wanted to ensure that nutri-berries could never be hidden again. I was picturing her as a bulldozer at this time.
So both #1 and #2 encouraged Bingo to forage for a couple of minutes, but they were going to be both expensive and difficult to maintain.
I decided I needed to try something more sturdy.
A foraging device I could use every day.
Third (significant) Failure:
I filled the Caitec blue seesaw with Bingo’s normal pellets and demonstrated how it worked to Bingo. She had to ‘tip’ one side to slide the pellets out.
At first she was terrified of the giant blue acrylic object. We gave her a few days to acclimate to the new toy before encouraging her to try it. Bingo refused to touch it.
Since the seesaw was full of pellets I tried providing a limited supply of pellets in her bowl, similar to the foraging study in Part 2.
I made sure Bingo always had pellets available throughout the day, but I only provided a small amount in her food bowl at any given times.
I even tried removing her food bowl while we ate dinner at the table next to her cage. I figured that since she is such a social eater she would venture to try the seesaw foraging device.
11 days later Bingo still stubbornly refused to touch the seesaw so I folded. I was getting concerned that she was not eating enough food.
Fourth (utter) Failure:
Fast forward another year. The clear plastic cones made it easy for Bingo to see the nutri-berries. Since Bingo adores nutri-berries I thought this Caitec foraging device was a sure thing.
It gathered dust (literal African Grey powder dust) for 2 months.
I demonstrated the device many many times. I know she understood how to move the cones.
Yet in spite of clearly seeing the nutri-berries Bingo refused to touch the cones.
What I Learned
Between the study and the failures listed above:
Introduce slowly. If your parrot exhibits any signs of fear hang the device outside their cage for 2-3 days.
Be patient. It may take 1 to 6 weeks for your parrot to use a new foraging device.
Watch to make sure they eat enough food. [Not applicable if offering treats in the device.] Until they interact with the device regularly offer the majority of their food in their normal food bowl. Slowly switch their daily food supply to the foraging device.
Try and try again. You learn something new with each failure (and get to know your parrot better).
It just so happens that I am equally as stubborn as Bingo.
I refused to give up.
I kept trying new foraging devices until I discovered ones that worked for Bingo.