Kris Porter is an advocate in providing the proper toys and activities for out parrots. Creative and inventive with an endless number of ideas, Kris has spent countless hours thinking up wonderful ways to not only provide excellent interactive toys for birds, but has considered how to incorporate these concepts into other activities like eating their meals and drinking water. She has a wonderful website called “Parrot Enrichment” Which can be found at: parrotenrichment.com.
Kris’s ideas tend to keep parrots engaged in whatever activity the toy or device is and they seem to enjoy themselves immensely.
She took foraging up a notch and turned it from an instinctive thing parrots do in the wild and adapted it to toys and other enriching activities.
One of the activities Kris highly recommends is simply including them in activities around the house. If you‘re in the kitchen cutting vegetables, get one or two in there with you. Ensure there are no hot pots or pans on the stove top and that the oven is off. Ensure that the toilet seat is down. Keep knives and cleaners put out of sight and away from them and you can let them watch you. You can always hand them that celery top or bell pepper seed core to keep them occupied. These are flock animals and they want to be with their flock. Part of that flock would be you and other members of the family.
A few years ago, Kris put together “The Parrot Enrichment Activity Book.” It’s an absolutely fabulous book stuffed with ideas on how to keep your parrots engaged in activities and play as well as enriching their lives.
Loaded with photographs and suggestions, I highly recommend this book to anyone with a bird. And the best part? It’s free. Yes, free!
Here is the 1.0 version of the book: Parrot Enrichment Activity Book
You can download the 2.0 version of the book here: Parrot Enrichment Activity Book
Her ideas are marvelous and many of these toys and activities are things you can build or put together yourself.
Her ideas are imaginative, innovative and inspired. When I downloaded the book and took a peek, I kept thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that? It’s sheer genius!”
One look at this book and you will agree that it is worth the effort of downloading it. Something as simple as providing bird-safe branches is one way to provide enrichment for them as they can stay busy with a branch in a variety of ways: They can strip off the leaves, they can chew on the bark and they can use it as a perch. The Cincinnati Zoo provides branches to their birds and I’ve seen them actively stripping off the leaves and busily chewing up the branches. It’s a simple idea but it works. This is just one easy way of providing enrichment to your flock. Just ensure that you provide branches that are not toxic to them.
You can also find Kris on the road giving talks, workshops and demonstrations at various events and clubs. She has been published in various magazines and newsletters including Good Bird Magazine, Parrots Magazine and Australian BirdKeeper Magazine. And if that weren’t enough, she is an enrichment specialist on the panel of experts for The World Parrot Trust.
Kris specializes in providing foraging opportunities for parrots.
She figured out through observation that parrots have a keener interest in a toy if there is something in it for them, specifically something to eat. This is a natural behavior because parrots in the wild spend a large part of their day hunting or foraging for food. It is as natural to them as breathing and this activity is very satisfying to them. They are active animals and this natural behavior is hard-wired into their brains. In other words, they like to forage, to play and to engage in activities.
But there are other ways besides toys to enrich their environment to promote play and learning.
Simply engaging them in activities along with you during your normal day is sometimes enough to keep them occupied. Kris does this by involving them in her own everyday chores at home. If she’s in the kitchen, one of her birds is with her observing.
I do this myself. If I have to vacuum, one of my birds is along for the ride. If I’m on the enclosed front porch writing, one or two of my Greys is out there with me catching some sun.
It’s easy to do. The difficult part of it is remembering to do it. But once you get into the habit of including your parrot in your day-to-day activities around the house, you’ll find it easier to do and you will being thinking of more ways of letting them participate in your at-home tasks.
Our birds are part of our families and consider us a flock member. Doing things together is a natural occurrence in the wild and they like being included in your life. Providing activities and enrichment is a way of providing this.