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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Bibi is not a playful bird. As long a we have her with us (since the first of january this year) she never was.
She came in a (bit too small) cage with only one toy and bad food.
So I started to change things slowly...
First better food (the food I got with her was molded :( and in the mean while she takes new/'wet' food, or at least tries it!)
Then better things to sit on => she had very small plastic perches and I changed those for natural branches and one lavestone perch.
Then I presented her one by one some new things (toys and a hut) but she never looked at he toy exept for attacking it (She is cuddling with her old toy and ignores her new one but she likes the hut!)
Right now I'm looking for a nicer/bigger cage, though I'm afraid she is not going to like that at first.
So, after this long (and maybe useless :p ) introduction : HOW do I get her to play? Or chew? (or bathe... :rolleyes: )

I take her for a very stubborn little lady who needs LOTS of time to be persuaded to try something new, but most of the time she just turns her head as soon as she see's someting new.
I've been trying to make her interested to play with new things myself or to keep it away from her (wich seems to raise most attention so far!) but I was wondering if anyone of you had any suggestions.
 

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Thank you for addressing this important topic! This shows your care and concern for your companion birds, and that you want them to just have a good time!

I have seen a number of birds to display exactly what you have described. Our first bird, Stella the Ara severa, would do nothing but stand on his door all day waiting for us to come home and play with him. It was very sad to see that he didn't know what to do with himself!! Very flattering that he wanted to play with us, but he deserved to have an enjoyable day while no one was home!

Stella did not begin playing much until we starting raising parrots (mostly Parrotlets) we then adopted a Sun Conure and African Gray, both of which played a bit on their own. Stella tryed to model their behavior.

So, influence of others that already knew independent play did help. But, Stella's play was still limited.

I have found (first assuming primary care needs are met adequately) that offering numerous foraging options for their favorite foods and treats stimulates mental and physical activity. You can use store bought foraging toys as well as home made ones. As time passes they learn that they are having to work for their yummy treats. You than advance this to putting treats into and onto toys that you want them to play with, make it a lot of work too! You want them to have to climb, hang, walk across the cage top, etc. to manipulate their toys for their treats. Foraging is very important aside from playing, but it stimulates them and helps them learn independent activity. Over time they know the motions, and enjoy the physical and mental stimulation, therefore initiating these actions on their own (even when treats are not provided for foraging)

Foraging options, in my opinion, are often overlooked by care givers. But it is SO important for our birds! We have a great DVD on captive foraging and lots of cool foraging toys. Foraging really should be part of our birds daily routine.

The key is to make sure they have time to learn independent activity; utilizing their favorite treats into foraging will encourage this.

Your question about finding a pet bird that does like to play will have a lot to do with the individual bird as well as their history and rearing methods. A lot of hand reared birds are coddled way too much and not given the opportunity to learn independent play. The average person/family is not home all day to play with their birds!

Also, providing a same species mate will encourage more play! And keeping pairs of any species is an excellent choice all around as well. It is only natural for them to have a mate, as we cannot adequately substitute their around the clock need to "flock" And they DO retain wonderful pet qualities!! It is all about establishing trust, independence, and positive interactions!

Also, with clicker training you can (together of course) work on tricks and fun things. Training our birds to do tricks also stimulates them physically and mentally. The idea is to challenge them! Challenging them is fun for them and they strive to have more fun! They know that we like for them to do fun and silly things and this, too, encourages them to do more on their own. It's a matter of overcoming that first hurdle of making them want to do things for their own pleasure, not to do things just because it is with or even on us! After establishing the grounds of clicker training, I use it to positively reinforce any motions close to play (eg. going near the toy, touchig the toy, playing with the toy) This works for picky eaters as we..
 

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Bitsy didn't play for the longest time - even though there were lots of toys in his cage. He cuddled up to a string/wood toy for sleeping. He seemed to like shredding paper, which was the only thing he ever paid attention to. Then, a "birdie angel" on this board sent him a bunch of shredding toys - all varied kinds and sizes. He started playing with one of those toys, then his interest seemed to "mushroom" to all the toys in his cage. Even though he wasn't playing at first, I kept rotating the toys every 2 weeks. Now that he's more interested, I keep doing that. Obviously, I NEVER take his favorite toy out. I think part of the deal for us is that now that he's older, he plays more - plus discovering that he loves shredding toys. Don't give up~!
 

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Can you show a photo of your cage and toys? That would help.

Chipper was a NEW bird when I got the new huge cage and put in many more toys. Her old cage was very nice, but she loves this one TONS more. She is very happy now.

If I see your cage/toy set up it could help. With a large cage, you can experiment and give plenty of toys and find out what makes them happy. I now know Chipper does not like acrylic toys.

I have found out her fav. swing is this colorful large one with wooden hearts. She still has little ones. Also, see the wooden bead toys on the left? She loves them, so I have hung five of them together. I call it the "Bead Forest." She climbs in it, chews it and naps there sometimes.

See the really big shaggy swing and rope perches? She didn't have room for all of that before. Now she has twisting rope perches, and other perches all over the place.
 

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Yes, I also forgot to add flying. Chipper can fly from perch to perch in her cage. She is out a lot, but the cage is home and I want that to be the best place, DISNEYLAND!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you all for thinking along... I'm defenitely going to do the foraging thing, sounds great! And a more fluffy/shaggy thing is going to be hers as well. She might like it better than acrylic too.
She does play with food: I give her often 'little green round cabbages' (there must be an english word for them but I don't know it :p ) put on a string and she loves to tear them apart (and I always hope she eats a bit of them as well :rolleyes: )
 

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Marjet, what a great idea about stringing the veggies and letting her tear them apart. The fluffy/shaggy thing is Bitsy's best friend/sleeping buddy. Good luck!
 
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