Will work for food

Source: dierennieuws.nl
Parrots prefer to work for their food. Research in Utrecht demonstrated that the birds would rather be required to work harder to get their supper than just eat what's put in front of them. This applies, by the way, to healthy parrots. Feather-plucking parrots choose the easy way out.
Feather plucking is a very common problem; one of its major causes is lack of stimulation to exhibit natural behaviour. In the wild, these birds spent at least eight hours a day seeking food; parrots in captivity often just get presented food without any effort at all.

Yvonne van Zeeland is an avian medicine specialist at the Utrecht University Clinic for Companion Animals. She offered parrots a choice between a bowl full of ready-to-eat feed or a puzzle in which the same feed was hidden. In order to get the food, the parrots had to work to solve the puzzle. Healthy parrots chose to work for their food. They preferred to pick their food out of a pipe with holes rather than just pick it up out of a bowl. Feather-plucking birds more often chose the easy way out: they elected to eat out of a feed bowl instead of a puzzle. It appears that feather plucking has taken over the satisfying role previously fulfilled by working for food.

The lesson is that a healthy parrot loves a challenge. These kinds of toys can be bought in stores and over the Internet, but a parrot owner with some creativity can also construct one at home. A parrot should be given the chance to think, pick, gnaw and search for food. Eating from such a toy takes a parrot two to two-and-a-half times as long. It provides the bird with a physical and mental workout, and stimulates its natural behaviour. What could be better?