When the first coffee makers first came out, they were little more than a pot with a lid and a spout on it. You put the dry ground coffee into the pot, added water and let it come to a boil. You then let the coffee grounds settle to the bottom and poured that first cup of the day. It was a fairy simply process.
Coffee makers then began to evolve. French press coffee makers, the countertop Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker and percolator coffee makers got popular as well as electric espresso machines.
And now? There is a Starbuck’s on every corner, you can get fancy roasted coffees from all over the world delivered to your door and the number and design of different types of coffee makers has exploded. Drinking coffee has become more than simply something you did in the morning and at break time at work. It has become more of a lifestyle. People have their favorite coffee shops with their favorite baristas and they have learned to recite, “Half-caf mocha latte with a pump of vanilla” faster than you can process the words in your head.
But the basic concept of making coffee has never varied. Roast some coffee beans, grind them up, add boiling water to the ground, let the coffee steep and serve. Some things just never change. Coffee is here to stay.
Out of this march through time, one thing popped up from the industry that has become a benefit to companion parrots. And that is the natural coffee filter for use in countertop drip coffee makers.
Parrot people are pretty quick to spot a foraging opportunity or a way to add variety to a home made toy they are making so i wasn’t a bit surprised when I saw these filters being used in both.
They normally come in two shapes and in two varieties. There is the basket shape and the cone shape. The two varieties are the white coffee filters and the “natural unbleached” variety.
These filters are absolutely perfect for creating the simplest foraging device ever known to parrots: Wrap a healthy nut in a coffee filter and give it to your bird. Yes, it’s that simple. Not unlike opening a gift on Christmas or your birthday, part of the joy of receiving the gift is unwrapping it. This is what foraging feels like to a bird. Part the fun is having to work to get to the gift. And with a bird, this concept of contrafreeloading adds more interest and fun for them. I if your parrot has invested time, effort and concentration into unwrapping that nut, he’s going to take far more of an interest in it.
Perhaps your bird might not understand what he is supposed to do with that wrapped nut when he gets it. Well, he will if he sees you wrap the nut into the filter. Now that he will understand! And he’ll know that in order to get to that delicious treat, he’s going to have to apply a little effort and elbow grease in order to release the nut and start chomping on it.
Another way I’ve seen these filters at work are for stuffing into basket or boxes with treats strewn throughout the container. You can wad them up if you like or you can just pack them loosely and watch your bird having fun trying to pull them out of the container.
If they don’t get all messed up with poop or any other crud, they can most likely be reused, but coffee filters are so inexpensive, it really isn’t necessary.
If your bird enjoys fruit slices to chunks of vegetables on a skewer, using the coffee filters between each chunk of fruit or vegetable is a great way to get them working to free the produce. They’ll either have to tear the filter off of the skewer or try and work around the filter in some way. Simply alternate the produce with the filters and you have a dandy edible toy that might take a bit more time, effort and engagement in order to get other produce. Remember, if they have to expend a little effort ignored to figure the problem out, the more they have vested into the situation, the more interest they will have in the final result which, in this case would be getting to the produce.
If you have an especially adept bird that is a whiz with toys, using a bit of hemp twine to tie around a treat or even something like a carrot stick will give them more of a challenge. It is another texture for them to tear through and some birds like the texture of hemp twine.
And of course, I have seen these coffee filters used in a variety of ways on toys. Many birds really enjoy tearing up paper. Adding these filters to a hanging toy is a terrific application of providing a textural variety to a toy as well as giving them another shape to play with. Coffee filters are pretty delicate and are easily destroyed. So these are wonderful for the smaller birds who simply don’t have the beak strength to tear into chunks of wood.
They also would be less of a challenge to a bird who has’t yet learned how to play with a sturdier toy and being able to rip up this toy might give them that satisfaction that this was something they accomplished.
I believe birds feel they have accomplished something when they rip the snot out of a toy, throw a bell to the floor or somehow disrupt the world in some way. They are natural foragers in the wild using their claw and beaks to root out insects, tear bark off of trees, dig out the clay on the cliffs of Tambopata and strip leaves off of branches in order to consume them. It’s only natural that they would want to do this in our living rooms. So finding ways for them to naturally act out these instinctive urges is a goal most people set for themselves by finding or making toys that help their birds act on these natural urges to chew, gnaw, scratch and toss. Remember, parrots in particular will instinctively toss food to the ground. They mulch for Mother Nature and the ground dwelling creatures of the plains and the rainforest get the benefit of the parrot’s handiwork by being able to eat the food the parrot has tossed to the ground. Any uneaten food or seeds has the opportunity to grow yet another plant. It’s part of the cycle of nature in the wild and parrots tossing their food is very much a part of this process.
The coffee filter is yet another tool many of us already have in our homes that can be employed and used to bring happiness and a changeup in our flock’s toys and how they go about their day. It’s a simple thing really. But on occasion it is the simple things that bring the most joy.