Parrot activities | 6 ways to exercise your bird

Did you know it’s very important to make sure your parrot gets enough exercise? Obesity and the resulting health issues are a big danger to domestic parrots, so we’ve gathered some fun parrot activities to help keep your bird’s fitness levels up.

Let’s discuss why you should exercise your parrot and which parrot activities you could try!

Why are these parrot activities important?

Imagine a parrot in the wild. These birds spend a large portion of their day moving around: flying about looking for foraging spots, locating food and then figuring out how to reach and eat it. Depending on the season, they sometimes have to work hard for every single morsel and can cover impressive distances on a daily basis.

Now imagine our domestic parrots. Sure, we give them a cage that they can stretch their wings in, as well as plenty of time to roam around the house. Still, we can’t exactly compare this with the activity levels of a wild parrot! As to be expected, obesity and even muscle atrophy are real issues.

Obesity is a rampant problem among domestic parrots (Schoemaker, Lumeij, Dorrestein, & Beynen, 1999; Beaufrère, Gardhouse, Wood & Stark, 2020). This is partly due to a lack of knowledge on parrot diet. However, exercise shouldn’t be forgotten either! An active parrot is a healthy parrot, and also a happy one, as different parrot activities keep their smart brains busy.

6 fun parrot activities to keep your bird fit by Parrot Essentials
Parrot toys are enriching and encourage exercise.

6 fun parrot activities

1. Foraging toys

We’ve emphasized the importance of foraging for parrots many times here on the Parrot Essentials blog and we’ll continue to do it! In the wild, parrots have to work for their food, and that’s what they’ve evolved to do. Don’t just drop some pellets into your parrot’s bowl at feeding time. Instead, try to make things interesting and challenging.

Use foraging toys, make your own foraging box or even just feed whole veggies and fruits rather than chopping them into bite-sized pieces. You can find more inspiration in the article on parrot foraging.

2. Recall training

If parrot training in general is a double whammy parrot activity because it promotes both positive behaviours and bonding, then recall training is a triple one. It encourages your parrot to fly and ensures you can call it over or shoo it away whenever needed.

You can read more about training, including recall training, in the article on positive reinforcement.

3. Fetch

Not all parrots get excited about fetching items, but if you haven’t tried it, give it a shot. You might be surprised, especially after investing a bit of time in training.

Use a plastic ball toy or just some wadded up paper to get that bird running around the room.

4. Obstacle course

This is another one that requires a bit of training, but it’s a great way to have hours of fun with your parrot and get it to run, fly, duck and more.

You can make your own parrot obstacle course and teach your bird how to run it using positive reinforcement training.

5. Climbing toys

If you’ve had your parrot(s) for a while, you’ll know that most of these birds love to climb. They use their powerful beak to hoist themselves up and sometimes even seem to prefer this over flying short distances. Stimulating climbing behaviour is a good way to make sure your parrot stays active!

Use plenty of climbing toys and ladders both inside and outside the cage. Something like a climbing net with bells should be pretty motivating for most birds.

6. Wing flapping

If you really want to go for pure exercise, you can just take your parrot on your arm and carefully move it up and down just quick enough to trigger the bird to extend and flap its wings. This is great for parrots that are just learning to fly (like juveniles and birds that were previously clipped) but really comes in handy to strengthen any bird’s wings.

Keep an eye on your parrot while you do wing flapping exercises, especially if the bird isn’t very fit. If it starts to look winded, call it a day and repeat the exercise tomorrow.

6 fun parrot activities to keep your bird fit by Parrot Essentials
Encourage your parrot to stretch its wings, fly and climb as much as possible.

Conclusion

There are many fun parrot activities to help encourage your parrot to exercise. As an added bonus, all of these activities also promote bonding between you guys, keep your parrot’s brain stimulated and might even help you move around more as well!

Sources

Beaufrère, H., Gardhouse, S. M., Wood, R. D., & Stark, K. D. (2020). The plasma lipidome of the Quaker parrot (Myiopsitta monachus). Plos one15(12), e0240449.

Schoemaker, N. J., Lumeij, J. T., Dorrestein, G. M., & Beynen, A. C. (1999). Nutrition-related problems in pet birds. Tijdschrift voor diergeneeskunde, 124(2), 39-43.

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