Boredom can quickly lead to depression for birds, and the earlier a bored bird gets out of its misery, the better. So here are some signs of a bored bird and tips I always use to keep my pet parrots mentally stimulated.
Signs that a Bird is Bored
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There is a lot that body language can tell you about a bird and its well-being. For example, birds like parrots are extremely smart and social birds. If you take time observing birds each day, you will see patterns that, when changed, become obvious to you.
Note that there is a thin line between a bored bird and a depressed one. The symptoms of a bored bird are often similar to those of a depressed bird, only milder. Here are some symptoms of bored pet birds.
a) Feather Plucking
No bird likes the pain that comes with self-destructive behaviors like feather plucking. However, once you start noticing some of those behaviors exhibited by birds, it is time to look into the problem.
The reason why birds pluck their feathers is for self-stimulation. Birds need physical and mental stimulation often, and when this is lacking, they take matters into their own hands.
b) Lack of Appetite
Maybe the bird is bored because of the diet it is under. Try changing the vegetables or switching up the meals once in a while and see how the bird responds. If the bird still has no appetite, then the problem you are dealing with could be much bigger than boredom.
There are different species of birds with different feeding preferences that can not be applied to all birds in general. Once I knew about these preferences, I started paying attention to what my birds were feeding on.
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There was a time my birds never wanted anything to do with me. They associated me with boredom and zero treats. The birds would not let me touch them, and I would get an unwelcome response when I did. Once I started handing the birds treats each time I went to the cage, the response changed tremendously, and the birds were always good to see me. There is no more biting involved.
Birds like parrots are social creatures, and there are moments when they crave social interaction. Once you see a bird reaching out with noises, it means it wants some interaction. This is the best time to engage the bird before it gives up and becomes depressed instead.
There are many reasons why a bird might be making noises. However, if it is only when you are close by, then it is time to heed those calls.
e) Fluffed Up Feathers
Some scientific reasons why birds fluff up feathers include keeping warm and looking big to avoid predators. However, some birds’ feathers can become ruffled if they are not in a good mood to interact with you. One good example is the turkey. Have you seen how turkeys respond to a supposed enemy? They ruffle their feathers and even drag their wings on the ground.
Tips I Use to Keep My Bird from Getting Bored
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There are more ways than just getting toys that help birds eliminate boredom. Sometimes even the best bird toys will hardly keep them engaged. Ultimately, it is good to remember that birds have different interests.
Here are some things I do to keep my bird entertained.
1) Large Cage
My birds enjoy a large space to perch and play with their toys. Additionally, the size means they can exercise sufficiently. For instance, your feathered friend should be able to fly from one side of the cage to the other. After all, a small birdcage will make the bird cramp and get bored.
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Some birds are claustrophobic and will get bored if kept in small spaces. For example, if bird toys are in a small cage, it might be impossible for the bird to use them.
2) Interesting Cage
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My cage has a varied landscape and does not look like a typical one. The home has multiple perches on different levels, holes, rings, smaller cages, and hanging toys. So naturally, the more exciting the cage, the happier the bird will be.
3) Cage Placement
As much as people love birdwatching, birds love people-watching, too, especially in a cage. Birds have a decent memory, and putting them in a common area will help them remember the faces of the family members in the house. Also, when the bird is in the open, it will not get bored easily. Plus, family members can interact with them, and they can all get acquainted.
I got my bird a companion, and he has never been happier. Of course, you can get pet birds of different kinds and keep both in different cages. Still, you do not have to get a feathered friend at all. Birds will enjoy seeing fish in an aquarium or engaging a curious cat. Plus, a friend will work better than a bird toy.
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A bird should only stay in the cage sometimes. Then, if the bird is disciplined enough, it can get time to leave the cage and fly around the room or even go out and come back. However, it is time to get a larger bird cage if you are scared of your pet flying away and never returning.
6) Foraging Toys
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A foraging toy will bring back a bird to its natural predispositions. The bird pecking and earning the food will keep it from boredom and will keep it active. After all, it will be okay to stay indoors if there is something to do.
The one thing my pet birds and I enjoy is watching the TV. Whenever I am out of the house, I leave the TV on so that the feathered friends are not bored. So the TV can be quiet. Plus, the visuals are enough to keep my birds entertained. While birds need physical stimulation, they still that mental stimulation too.
8) Toy Rotation
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Try to keep your feathered friend excited by always having new toys or rotating the ones you have every so often. Additionally, varying the options will keep them from getting bored and allow them to try something new every time. Hopefully, if the bird misses a toy for a week, it will be excited to see it next time.
9) Know Your Pet
Sometimes you might buy a toy, and the bird needs help figuring out what to do with it. Therefore it is good to know what your pet bird loves doing before you buy a toy.
For example, if you have birds that love perching, there is no reason to buy bird toys primarily for picking or fetching. On the other hand, if the bird is a nut-cracker, they are probably comfortable with having things on its beak. Once I paid attention to my birds for the first few weeks, it was easy for me to know how to play with them and get them the right toys.
10) Novelty Scare
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At first, I used to think my bird never liked the toys I used to buy him. So I thought I was spending too much money on toys for nothing. After a while, I realized that the bird never hated the toy, but it was a foreign object that required more evaluation. If you buy colorful toys, you have to be aware of how the bird you have interprets colors. If you have a bird like an owl, it may need help to make out some colors. Unfortunately, getting colorful beads for a nocturnal bird would be a bad joke.
11) Age-Relevant Toys
Humans have toys with age limits. Similarly, birds enjoy certain activities at different ages. For instance, young birds could be in their learning stage, and it would be a waste of money to get a toy they would not use.
12) Cage Hygiene
A dirty cage will not be a bird’s favorite spot to hang out. One of the best ways I ensure my bird cages are tidy is to clean them as often as possible. This is a sure way of keeping any space clean, whether in my house, car, or birdcage. Once I get myself into cleaning it often, it is easy and feels less like work.
13) Toys and Hanging Ropes
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To keep myself from always picking toys from all over the room, I find ways of tethering toys to a rope so that the bird can still play with them. I realized that tethering also protects the bird toy from posing a choking hazard.
What NOT to Do When a Bird is Bored
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There are things you should avoid doing when a bird is bored. I am guilty of doing some of these things because most were subconscious and not ill-intended. So here are some things you should avoid when a bird is bored.
a) Ignore the Bird
Ignoring the bird will only make it more irritable because it is not feeling heard. The bird might resort to violent ways of seeking attention.
b) Getting a Play Mate Sooner
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Before getting a playmate, explore all other options, including getting new toys for the bird, changing the diet, getting a better cage, and more. Getting a new playmate might distress the bird more, especially if they click slowly. A playmate is a more long-term solution, while a bored bird needs to lift its mood.
c) Assuming the Bird Wants to Play
If the bird is bored and sick because of the diet, no amount of toys will lift its mood. Finding out why a bird is bored helps you solve the right problem. There are many reasons why a bird could be bored.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bored Birds
a) Do Birds Get Bored in Cages?
Imagine knowing you could fly and explore the world but are caged. Birds do get bored because it is in a bird’s nature to be active and fly out in the bushes while foraging. Birds get bored in cages easily, hence our earlier in this article.
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There are ways to make cages feel less like a prison, including adding pet bird toys for physical and mental stimulation (We could interlink this with the pet bird toys article).
A pet parrot or other birds will only get bored in a cage if you let it get bored. Otherwise, one can do countless other things to keep the bird entertained.
b) Is it Too Cruel to Keep a Bird in a Cage?
The simple answer depends on how you do it. This is a question that most people grapple with. The idea of a cage, to a human being, sounds cruel. But remember that a bird’s cage is not a prison but a home. The bird gets to come out for a fly, is well fed, taken to the avian veterinarian every other time, and gets enough love.
If you took wild parrots and caged them, that would be harsh because wild birds are used to being in the wild. On the other hand, if you took a domesticated bird and “freed” it into the wild, it would not survive for very long without getting caught by other predators.
Furthermore, you can set aside one room in the house to be an aviary. A bird room eliminates the idea that parrots spend their whole time in a cage and are prisoners
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There are many reasons why a bird can be bored and many ways of getting rid of this boredom. From tasty treats to upgrading the bird’s lifestyle, you can take this chance to improve your bird’s life to prevent boredom.