Does My Bird Need Exercise?

Posted on
July 15, 2019

Parrots and other caged pet birds are creatures of flight-- in the wild, they cover infinite distances, which is more than enough exercise to sustain such peak condition. When placed in confinement, their natural instincts are heavily restricted and the birds therefore, receive less exercise than they should.

It is common to believe that caged birds needn’t any exercise; however, is your bird starting to look bored or sad?  Is your bird becoming a bit more grumpy or easily agitated? If you are a bird owner and want to incorporate more exercise into your pet’s daily routine, follow these tips to help better its mood, better its health, and prolong its life!

Two large birds with yellow stomachs, blue wings, and large beaks perch on a branch in a netted in enclosure.
Although flying ideal exercise for your parrot, there are other great alternatives to flying that will keep your bird happy and in shape.

What are some ways I can provide my pet with more exercise?

Flying is singlehandedly, the most effective source of exercise for your bird. It’s what they do best! Though great pet exercise, there are a lot of problems that accompany letting your bird out of its cage-- primarily, the large chance of your bird flying away and/or refusing to return inside.

What are some alternatives, then, to flying?

Climbing

Climbing is a fantastic way to get your bird some exercise. First thing’s first, you have to make sure that you have a safe place for your bird to climb-- whether it’s an enclosed space outside or a tree, make sure it’s a spot where you can reach the top. You wouldn’t want your pet to get stuck and not be able to reach them.

If you don’t have space where your bird can climb, we recommend getting a bird ladder for inside the home-- that way your bird is able to climb freely and safely without you having to worry about them potentially getting stuck or flying away.

Toys and Games

Let your pet’s imagination and creativity shine with physically challenging and mentally engaging toys. Toys aren’t just things your bird can play with. In fact, toys act as great exercise equipment. Incorporating toys like ropes, dangly and shiny toys, and even mentally stimulating toys like this birdy basketball hoop, will promote movement of major muscle groups. Your bird will be entertained for hours, exercising its body and mind.

Another awesome way to get your pet more engaged in its playtime is to use a mirror. Birds absolutely love and are attracted to shiny objects-- a mirror, in this case, acts as a shiny sparkling object. This not only feeds its desire for shiny things, but a mirror could also aid in making your bird seem less lonely when you’re out of the house. Birds are incredibly social and may become increasingly depressed or anxious if left consistently alone.

A mirror will surely help in making your bird feel happier-- as it mimics a friend. Birds will spend loads of time looking at, chatting and playing with its reflection. This can have a positive effect on your bird’s mental health.

As for games, your pet is wildly intelligent and it’s important for you to shuffle through a wide array of games. If you only play one or two games, your pet will catch on and it will become more of a routine as opposed to play and exercise. Keep it interesting! You’ll want to keep your pet guessing so that it’s being challenged with new movements and incentives. Caged birds adore hide-and-seek, soccer (or anything that requires a ball and passing it), tag, and even dancing to music!

You heard that right! Birds love to boogie while listening to music. During playtime, play some music for you and your bird to listen to. Figure out which songs or types of music your bird responds to the most. Gather up those songs to make a playlist! Not only dancing get your pet’s blood heart pumping, but it’s also a sight to behold.

One thing to keep in mind: be sure to be around-- it’s highly encouraged that you supervise your pet during playtime. Loose strings and any other small or sharp objects can be hazardous to your bird. So just be extra careful and always keep an eye on them!

Hey Tweetie, Go Fetch!

Although challenging, teaching your bird tricks is an effective way to get your pet active and is also a great way to strengthen the bond between you two. It requires time and patience, but in the end, it is so worth it! Plus, you’ll impress visitors with such dedicated training and cool tricks!

Start with easy tricks like the “Step-Up” command, fetch, waving hello or potty training.  

As your bird starts acquiring more skills and you become more comfortable training it, you could even start to devise your own tricks, by way of clicker training! Teaching tricks is a bonding experience, so take things slow. You wouldn’t want to rush the process or overwhelm your bird! Be patient and practice as often as possible!

If possible, get some time outside

The best thing you could do for your bird is to take it outside. Again, this can be difficult, as you run the risk of it flying away, getting stuck in a tree/on top of a roof, coming in contact with other critters, etc. If you’re interested in creating more opportunities to go outside, make sure you keep watch. Birds in the wild are free to fly and walk around whenever they wish-- caged birds, unfortunately, aren’t. If you find at all that your pet isn’t engaging in other activities you’ve tried, allow your pet some time outside. Time out in nature could be a special treat, making them feel happy and satisfied.

If you want to spend more time outside with your pet, but are worried about possible dangers, consider a bird harness! Yup, they exist! As all pets require, birds need some time acclimating to the harness. Have your bird get used to wearing it before you take it outside, just so that both you and your bird get more comfortable with it. Although there are numerous out there, check out The Aviator Bird Harness. We recommend trying on a couple, just so that you find one you see as best fit.

A yellow and green parakeet perches on a branch, ready to climb for exercise.
Exercise is significantly important for birds--although a healthy diet is important, that alone won’t keep your bird healthy.

Benefits of Birdie Workouts

There are several health benefits to working out your pet. Excercise for your bird helps retain bone strength and joint function, reduce fat deposits in blood vessels, improve heart performance, and promote proper perfusion of the liver and kidney.

Not only does exercise keep birds’ weight down and their heart healthy, but it also increases their levels of endorphins-- a chemical in the brain that’s often called a “feel good” chemical because it can act as both a happiness amplifier and a stress and pain reliever. Along with this, exercise can help decrease and control excessive hormone levels.

Just like humans, exercise plays a critical role in their well-being; though hard to believe, considering our differences, birds benefit similarly to exercise as people do. There are many factors that contribute to your pet’s overall health like genetics and diet. Such factors can affect things like feather production and skin health. If you’re curious as to what a proper diet looks like for a bird, here are some tips:

  • Include a variety/ make diet well-rounded
  • Birdseed mixes are great “bases” or primary items that your bird can eat everyday
  • Everything in addition is either a snack or treat (are not base replacements)

You'll also want to make sure your birdie has plenty of healthy snacks. Snacks and/or treats can include:

  • Seeds
  • Grasses
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Insects

In the wild, birds have access to a buffet of options-- which is why they are able to maintain more of a well-varied and diverse diet. In homes, birds can only feed itself with what is available. As a bird owner, you need to make sure that your pet’s diet somewhat mimics that one of a bird in the wild-- which includes balanced, natural,  whole foods.

A bird on a bad diet is more likely to fall ill to viral or bacterial infections, due to a lack of proper nutrients. However, a bird on a good diet will have a strong immune system, which will help defend it from diseases.

A green parrot in profile
With these helpful tips in mind, your bird will be healthy as can be in no time-- and even better, your relationship with your pet will grow, leaving both of you happy and satisfied.

In short, Yes.

Your bird does need exercise.

Many people believe that their birds are perfectly content with staying in their cages all day long. Which of course, this could be true-- each bird is unique and perhaps there are a few out there who enjoy downtime. However, this is more than likely not the case.

Naturally, birds will feel an urge to take flight. When kept in a cage, this suppressed energy can cause a multitude of issues. If you start to notice changes in your pet’s mood, behavior, or eating habits, chances are your bird needs some exercise, playtime, or simply even time outside.

If this sounds a lot like your bird, follow our tips! Exercise is just as important to you as it is for your birdie. If you aren’t satisfied with the amount of exercise your bird has been receiving, adopt some of the ways listed above to ensure that your pet lives a happy, healthy and full life.

Posted on
July 15, 2019
in
Advice
category

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