Friday, April 24, 2009

He Loves This.... He Loves This Not!

Whether snowflakes or crystals, fingerprints or flowers, no two are alike! Naturally, this applies to our feathered friends as well. Knowing the unique attributes of your bird, natural abilities, personality characteristics, preferences and much more, can promote appropriate expectations and avoid unnecessary frustration.

Every day we spend with our birds we learn something new! With the realization that preferences can and do change, we are able to make the best use of natural tendencies while continuing to expand their horizons. Consider the following:
  • Favorite vegetables, nuts, etc.?
  • Prefers to have a main meal in the morning, at night, or to graze all day long?
  • Gravitates to a certain type of toy such as chew toys, shred toys or foraging toys?
  • Favorite types of music?
  • A 'morning' bird?
  • Time of the day most likely to nap?
  • Enjoys the company of other birds or the sounds of nature cd's?
These (and many more) are questions that you, as your bird's closest companion, are in the unique and singular position to answer!

How can we use these observations to broaden experiences and enrich their lives on a daily basis?

Here are some examples:

If I have observed that my bird particularly enjoys shredding toys, but has not shown much interest in foraging:
    • Encourage the foraging instinct by making the shredding toy visible, but slightly more challenging to obtain. Place a small seed or nut into the toy or in the hiding place itself.
If I have observed that my bird tends to eat a larger meal first thing in the morning, I can take advantage of this natural window of opportunity by offering new food items at this time of day.
    • At this meal, select small amounts of favorite vegetables, but include some new vegetables (or less favorite ones).
    • Use a variety of shapes, sizes, types of vegetables and textures. Gauge your bird's reaction; offer some from your hand or off a spoon to see if this piques interest. Even 'beaking' something new is progress (tasting) even if it is not eaten! Continue to offer.
    • Lightly toss new veggies in a mixture of almond butter and plain yogurt to attract interest.
If I have observed that my bird enjoys foraging toys and has a curious nature:
    • Certain veggies are natural foraging vehicles! Making a slit in the top of a jalapeno pepper or along the side of a snow pea allows it to be 'stuffed' with some select seeds, nuts or a few pieces of corn and then closed back up again.
    • Use a piece of high quality lettuce or a bok choy leaf to make a veggie wrap around some seeds, nuts, corn or other favorite food items.
    • Offer corn on the cob (even to smaller birds)! Larger birds can hold a piece of corn on the cob; smaller birds can have the cob secured to the cage or play area. It can be a messy proposition, but makes for great fun!
    • String plain (salt and butter free) popcorn and cheerios on a piece of sisal rope and hang in a difficult to reach place.
Have a day of music fun, hang out with the birds and play different styles of music and some nature cd's if possible. Observe your bird's reactions to the different styles. Do some make them very active and chirpy, while others cause them to intently, but quietly listen? Do some promote napping? It is fun to watch them, and handy to know how they react to different styles so we can work music and nature sounds into their daily routines, offering plenty of variety and enrichment! Coco has some types of music that she really does not seem to care for - by that I mean she begins screaming and will not stop until the music is changed. Strider - he loves ALL music! Everything makes him sing like a professional opera man! He is a happy little boy who has music in his soul! Sammy does not seem to have any observable reaction to music, but he really perks up when the nature cd's come on, especially the rain forest and thunderstorm cd's!

By observing my bird's natural cycles of rest and activity, I can plan the time spent together to be of optimal value. For most of us, attending a less than exciting lecture right after a big lunch is not the most productive use of time. Some of us do very well with a technically oriented class the first thing in the morning when we were 'fresh', while others of us are never 'fresh' the first thing in the morning!

In essence, any time I am around my birds, I am 'training' them. But not by means of a formal training session! They are always learning something about me, and from me, when they are with me. My goal is for that 'something' to be positive.

I find it fascinating to learn about each of my bird's preferences and, most especially, to see them change over time! One week a bird may go crazy for a banana chip and the next week the favorite is red cabbage!

As companions, we have the joy of exposing our friends to a variety of enriching sites, sounds and activities to broaden their horizons and deepen our relationships. It brings a special delight to provide them with a toy that totally enthralls them, to see them try a new vegetable and enjoy it, or to watch their confidence soar as they discover the joy of foraging.

What have you learned about your bird today? (Yesterday, I learned my bird likes wires!)
EEK!

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