Foraging as a Means of Behavior Modification

Key Points

  • Feather destructive behavior is commonly encountered in companion parrots.
  • Feather destructive behaviors are complex and rarely “cured” with one treatment modality.
  • Stereotypies are abnormal, repetitive, functionless behaviors that most commonly develop in animals kept in barren environments.
  • Foraging may help to manage feather destructive behavior and other stereotypies in psittacines.
  • Foraging may be encouraged in parrots through the use of foraging toys and “foraging trees”.
  • Feather destructive behaviors are complex and rarely “cured” with one treatment modality.

Foraging is the act of searching for and finding food. Many wild birds spend more than 50% of their day foraging and feeding, particularly in the morning and evening. Because foraging occupies a significant portion of a bird’s daily activity, it likely has social and behavioral importance.

Bird behaviors can be divided into four categories: foraging, socialization, grooming or self-preening, and sleeping or resting. In a captive situation, normal behaviors are likely disrupted including foraging. If the ability to forage is removed, that leaves socializing, grooming, and rest . . .


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References

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Echols MS. Captive Foraging: The next best thing to being free. Zoological Education Network, Inc, Lake Worth, FL, USA, 2006.

Echols MS. Practical use of foraging as a means of behavior modification. Proc Annu Conf Assoc Avian Vet; 2005: pp: 185-194.

Echols MS. The behavior of diet. Proc Annu Conf Assoc Avian Vet; 2004: pp: 267-270.

Huber-Eicher B, Weschsler B. Feather pecking in domestic chicks: its relation to dust bathing and foraging. Anim Behav 54(4): pp: 757-678, 1997.

Ingliss IF, Ferguson NJK. Starlings search for food rather than eat freely available, identical food. Anim Behav 34: pp: 614-617, 1986.

Koustos EA, Matson KD, Klasing KC. Nutrition of birds in the order Psittaciformes: a review. J Avian Med Surg 15(4): pp: 257-275, 2001.

Meehan CL, Garner JP, Mench JA. Environmental enrichment and development of cage stereotypy in orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica). Dev Psychobiol 44(4): pp: 209-218, 2004.

Meehan CL, Millam JR, Mench JA. Foraging opportunity and increased physical complexity both prevent and reduce psychogenic feather picking by young Amazon parrots. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2003;80: pp: 71-85.

Novak MA. Self-injurious behavior in rhesus monkeys: new insights into its etiology, physiology, and treatment. Am J Primatology 59: pp: 3-19, 2003.

Orosz SE, Delaney CJ. Self-injurious behavior (SIB) of primates as a model for feather damaging behavior (FDB) in companion psittacine birds. Proc Annu Conf Assoc Avian Vet 2003; pp: 39-50.

Vasquez RA, Kacelnik A. Foraging rate versus sociality in the starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Proc R Soc Lond B 267: pp: 157-164, 2000.

To cite this page:

Echols S. Foraging as a means of behavior modification. October 31, 2010. LafeberVet Web site. Available at https://lafeber.com/vet/foraging-as-a-means-of-behavior-modification/