Since the dawn of the digital age, more and more newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur — extinct. While a computer, tablet or Smartphone can’t match the simple feel and satisfaction of turning a page, electronically delivered news is here to stay. I’m willing to bet, however, that many pet bird owners continue to check “renewal” on their newspaper subscriptions; after all, yesterday’s news is today’s cage liner. In addition to the long-held practice of lining the bottom of the birdcage with newspaper, here are four other ways to get the most bang out of your newspaper subscription buck:
1. Paper Curtains
Many pet parrots enjoy their privacy and often retreat to a more secluded part of the cage during their downtime. If your bird likes a privacy screen and has a penchant for chewing, hang a page of newspaper along the outside of one side of the cage. Simply pull the paper through the top of the cage and push it through the bars down along the outside of the cage -no hooks or clamps are needed. (Note: Parrots are cavity nesters. For some species — namely chronic egg-layers like cockatiels, budgies and lovebirds — huts and similar enclosed items can send them into reproductive mode, so be careful that your female bird isn’t becoming broody.)
While I read the Sunday Los Angeles Times newspaper, my conure sits behind the canopy of the Arts & Entertainment page as he eats his breakfast. By the time I get to reading the metro section, he is well into his paper demolition project; taking care to pull a bit of the paper through the cage bars and then he chews strips into bunched-up paper balls. If my conure is in a feisty mood, chunks of ripped paper swirl about the cage. Even if your parrot doesn’t take to chewing up newspaper, it might enjoy it as a temporary privacy curtain that still allows light into the cage.
2. Bonus Real-Estate
Expanding your bird’s inside-the-cage foraging area can be as simple as laying newspaper on top of the cage grate. Treats won’t fall through the gaps in the grate, and your bird might find this setup easier on his feet for doing a walkabout on the bottom of the cage. Crumble up some Lafeber Avi-Cakes or Lafeber Daily Diet Pellets, and spread the bits around so your bird can go foraging walk. If your bird likes to roll around on his back during play, newspaper placed over the cage grate also makes a cost-effective play mat.
3. Wrapping Paper
For a quick foraging toy, wrap Nutri-Berries up in newspaper before placing them in the bowl. This foraging creation takes only seconds to make, but it can keep your bird happily occupied for much longer. You can even make a hanging foraging toy by rolling up some Nutri-Berries on one end of a long strip of newspaper and twisting or tying the other end to the cage top so that it hangs down. Again, there’s little prep time for you, but this challenge will keep your bird in foraging mode for a good deal longer. (Play it safe by always supervising your pet bird whenever you offer an item for it to destroy.)
4. Health Monitor
Lining the bottom of your bird’s cage with newspaper (wax paper or a paper cage liner work as well) can help you keep track of your bird’s health. Changes in the appearance of your bird’s droppings can be a sign of illness. Instead of your pet bird’s poop falling onto the cage grate, you essentially capture the fecal droppings whole on the newspaper, which makes it easy to check your bird’s droppings for size, color and formation. Better yet, you can bring the newspaper with you to your bird’s vet-checkup. (Don’t worry; your avian veterinarian won’t think you are crazy for bringing along soiled newspaper. On the contrary, your vet will be thankful to have a client who is proactive when it comes to their pet bird’s health.)
A piece of newspaper placed over the cage grate also saves on cleaning time because you don’t have to scrub dried poop off of the cage grate. Just roll it up, and replace it with a new sheet of newspaper each day.
Newspapers today are toxin-free (with inks made from soy instead of lead), so you can feel good about getting extra mileage out of your daily paper before placing it in the recycle bin. Your bird will enjoy shredding your paper up as much as you enjoy reading it.