Physical activity for your pet parrot
Does your parrot look bored every time you put her pellets in her dish? Does she get a sad look in her eyes just before she bites you? Does she attack your neighbors every time they come to visit? They can get that way. Maybe all she needs is a little exercise.
In the wild life of a parrot is not easy. They have to fly from tree to tree, finding something to eat each morning, avoiding predators all day, and once a year they have to build a good nest and find extra food for their babies.
Giving your parrot that sort of exercise would be great. Flying is obviously the ideal exercise for your parrot, but there are a lot of problems with it. The other day my parrot flew up on top of a neighbor´s house, and since she was afraid to come down I spent about half an hour before I could coax her down.
What are some alternatives to flying?
Alternatives to Flying
- Climbing: good exercise for the legs, the neck,and often the wings too;
- Wing-beating: almost as good as flying to exercise the pectoral muscles;
- Play: depending on the type of play,this can be great for the whole body;
- Taking a Walk: great for bonding, mental stimulation, and mild climbing exercise.
Climbing is one of the best ways you can exercise your parrot. If you do not have anywhere safe to take your parrot out, a pet shop ladder will give him some exercise and he will use it over and over during the day. If you put your finger next to your bird´s chest, she will climb up. You can put her down somewhere else, and then repeat this again to make sure she has enough exercise for the moment.
The ideal climbing is on a tree, of course. My parrot prefers a specific banana tree that overlooks the goose pond, maybe because it is leafy and she is able to shred the leaves so easily; although she has plenty to choose from, she usually ends up in one of the banana trees. (If you are going to take your parrot out to exercise in a tree make sure it is one that you can reach the top! Some birds will climb up and then not want to come down. My parrot likes to climb the ladder-like coconut leaves and when she gets high does not like to come down.)
Also be sure you stay with the bird when she is outside. I went into my house for something and lost one parrot to a stray cat a few years ago. My Pitbull now watches my parrot when I am in the house and makes sure no cats or stray dogs are strolling around our yard. She and the parrot are great friends, but of course a lot of dogs cannot be trusted around your birds.
There are a lot of ways to provide this exercise. One good method is just to allow your bird to perch on your hand and then move it up and down or around in a circle. Be sure to hold on to her feet as you do this, since sometimes she will become so excited flapping her wings that she will fall off of your hand.
My parrot does not like anyone but me, but some birds will become attached to several people in the house. That parrot can be tossed up in the air and called by the second person, standing just a few feet away. She will fly over and perch.
In the wild, most parrots fly for only short periods before stopping to feed or get a drink. Even if your bird is in good shape, give her a rest before making her perform a second bout of wing-beating.
Your parrot is intelligent, and it is up to you to invent new games and keep her stimulated. Some birds like to play football (or soccer), and will sit on the floor passing a small ball back and forth. My bird loves hide-and-seek. Others will appreciate a game of tag, and some even like to socialize to music.
Be creative! Pet shops sell lots of toys that are great for your bird.
Every parrot is an individual.
Taking A Walk
On mornings when it is not excessively windy, my parrot likes to go with me when I take my dogs for a walk on the beach. She does not walk, of course, but rides where she has the best view. She moves around from shoulder to shoulder, checking out the occasional walker on the beach, and if the wind picks up will snuggle into my shirt to protect herself.
This is one of the best forms of exercise for your parrot, as it provides mental stimulation and will keep her in touch with her environment.
Exercise Every Day
You should already have found an avian veterinarian to take care of your parrot. Make sure that she has a good physical exam before you start her exercise program; blood work, a fecal exam, and tests that your vet recommends are a good place to start.
If your parrot is aggressive, you might find that providing an outlet for her natural energy will make her a better part of the family. Since wild parrots have so many things to do as part of their daily routine, birds that are not exercised become bored and misbehave.
Start slowly, but exercise your parrot every day. She will thank you for it.