Recently I had the opportunity and pleasure of traveling to Australia. While there, I observed various species of birds in the wild. What I realized was that a person can not truly appreciate or understand bird behavior until you do see them in their natural environment.
I can talk until I am blue in the face about the importance of giving your bird new and different toys every day for varied stimulation, or rotating their feeding stations and what they eat. Despite knowing this from research and learning, I still did not appreciate WHY it is so important.
In Cairns, Australia I witnessed first hand a flock of Lorikeets numbering at least in the hundreds. Hundreds of rainbow colored birds soaring through the skies over my head, foraging in trees right alongside people. As dusk fell, hundreds more began to fly overhead, screeching as they returned to the distant mountains to roost for the night.
It was this particular evening as I stood observing all these Rainbow Lorikeets, that I realized exactly how restrained captive birds are. Unable to fly the many miles per day their highly efficient, active bodies are meant to, or engage their minds in the quest for food and socialization, captive birds are missing out on the best things evolution has provided them.
Birds are not meant to be kept alone in our living rooms. The best we can do for them is hopefully have more than two to mimic a flock, as well as ample out of cage time and enrichment activities.
All creatures behave in order to act on their environment. They fly to find food. They scream to talk to each other. They swing upside down from branches to reach tasty snacks or for the sheer joy and exercise of stretching their legs.
They try to do the same at home, but with limited space and appropriate toys, captivity reduces the number of natural behaviors birds can perform. Instead, they end up practicing the same behaviors over and over again, such as screaming incessantly or pacing back and forth repeatedly. Behaviors a bird can use from inside a cage to act on its’ surrounding environment.
So what can we do? We can not free them, they are already here to stay. We can provide as many interactive activities as possible every day, and give our birds lots of space and time to exercise. As my usual mantra goes, do the best you can by your bird at home, encouraging and enjoying the many behaviors their species also perform in the wild.