Introducing Holiday Gifts To Your Pet Bird

Just because you give a gift, doesn't mean your bird will like it.

A great way to introduce a bird to a toy is to let them see another bird playing with it. Monkey see, monkey do!  Via Kenny Coogan
A great way to introduce a bird to a toy is to let them see another bird playing with it. Monkey see, monkey do! Via Kenny Coogan

A great way to introduce a bird to a toy is to let them see another bird playing with it. Monkey see, monkey do!

It’s been looking a lot like Christmas for the past two months or so. Now that it is officially December, I suppose I can cope. Consumerism really curdles my eggnog. I don’t want to acquire anything new or anything old. I’m trying to reach and maintain my equilibrium. I cringe at the thought of the countless amounts of ribbons, bows, wrapping paper and cards produced just to be torn, untied, ripped and unread. If you flashback to your 7th grade curriculum days, you will recall that you learned about natural resources. Natural resources are the things that Earth produces and that we benefit from or improve our lives by.

Some natural resources are renewable, like water and trees, while others are not easily renewable like fossil fuels and bauxite. Bauxite is the world’s main source of aluminum. Renewable only means if we are careful, the material can be replaced at the same rate or nearly the same rate that we use the resource. We cut down trees for lots of uses, but if we plant tree seedlings, birds and humans would have less to worry about. The same goes for water: if we are water wise, the water cycle will take care of us. Things that we call nonrenewable take much longer to bounce back, sometimes thousands or millions of years.

This brings us to re-gifting. Re-gifting helps save natural resources. And who doesn’t love a good re-gifted present? I know our avian pets do! The best situation is when you are presented something that you yourself had discarded onto a family member the year before. The oohs and ahhs, and horrible acting of appreciation makes me giggle with delight as the sugar-free-laxative-acting-candy is given to a sugar eater who years ago said one time they were giving up sugar.

For those of us, who must give something a little extra to our birds (guilty) here are some suggestions on how to slowly transition them into the hustle of seeing, hearing and interacting with new toys.

Get Your Bird Playing With Toys

Introducing the holiday present slowly is a good start. Prey animals, like most of our pet birds, will benefit from seeing the toy at a distance initially. If the bird toy is especially large, placing it in the animal’s cage where they have no choice but to interact will certainly lead to fear responses. Birds appreciate being able to predict what will happen in their environment. Permitting them to see that the toy does will allow them the security to be inquisitive about the toy later on.

Including another animal to interact with the toy will serve as clear communication that the toy is not only safe but fun — monkey see, monkey do.

An interesting fact about this option is that it doesn’t have to be a conspecific (same species) interacting with the toy. A dog could play with a bird toy and when they are done with it, the pet bird, who was the original recipient, will start playing.

Placing a toy between cages of two birds can be very appealing to them as well. If one bird has experience with the toy, the other may not be able to resist the rivalry. Pulling the bird toy into their own cage, playing tug of war or shredding it together will surely get a pet to play with that unaccustomed toy. My Moluccan cockatoo reminded me of this tidbit earlier this week when I placed an older phone book on the top of her enclosure. Confetti is everywhere now.

You could model the toy yourself; if no other pets are around. Rolling a ball or manipulating the new foot toy will make the toy livelier and could kick start some natural instincts.

If the bird prefers the cardboard box or paper bag it came in, no problem. Incorporate the expensive toy with devices they already like. Rolling toys up in newspaper is a favorite with my birds. Inside could be a treat or toy, but they have to unveil it first to find out. If they are scared of new toys, hiding it in a familiar newspaper wrap will make it more enjoyable. Attaching new and old toys together or placing one inside the other are other options.

For those on a tight budget and who also want to contribute to helping the environment, stick with a cardboard box. You’ll have them around after the holidays and they will serve multiple purposes. You could probably get away with giving large refrigerator boxes for human children as well. Be warned however, you could have them re-gifted to you in 2015.

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Behavior and Training · Birds

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