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Bird Behavior, Encourage Activity and Exercise


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Is Your Bird a Perch Potato Is Your Bird a Perch Potato

ow much does your bird exercise and play? Unlike wild birds, many captive companions do not get the exercise they need to promote physical and mental health. After
Is Your Bird a Perch Potato
all, we keep our pet bird's food close and home comfortable – the two main reasons their wild cousins are always on the move. But there are simple ways to encourage your bird to be active and healthy.

Exercise With Ease A DANGEROUS LIFESTYLE
Though it may seem relaxing, a sedentary lifestyle is equally as dangerous for your bird as it is for you. In fact, inactivity often weakens muscles, decreases blood circulation and respiratory capacity, and contributes to avian foot injuries. Inactive birds also often demonstrate abnormal behaviors, including self-mutilation, screaming, and feather picking. These behaviors occur in an attempt to combat the boredom that accompanies a non-active lifestyle.

Worse, sedentary birds are also susceptible to many of the same conditions and ailments as inactive humans. These include obesity, heart disease, fatty liver disease, high cholesterol, kidney disease, arthritis, hardened arteries (that often lead to heart attacks and strokes), and other potentially deadly conditions.

EASY WAYS TO EXERCISE
A healthy, low-fat diet is essential to your bird's physical and mental health. But regular, daily exercise is also a key to keeping your bird active and fit. Unlike humans, however, your bird's exercise regimen doesn't include an expensive membership to the local gym. In fact, the simplest way to promote activity with your bird is to offer him inexpensive and hassle free toys and accessories. These include:
Swings: Whether strategically placed inside or carefully suspended outside your bird's cage, swings are an inexpensive way to keep your bird's total body exercised. They help strengthen legs, torsos, and necks, and tone muscles, in addition to helping keep your bird mentally alert as he shifts and balances his weight.
Ladders: When connected together, arranged side-by-side, or hung vertically inside or outside your bird's cage, ladders benefit a wide range of your bird's body. As he climbs, his heart rate increases, foot muscles flex, and coordination strengthens. In fact, many birds would benefit from a required climb up a ladder into their open cage each night as a final aerobic workout before bed.
Play Gyms: Available in a range of styles, play gyms create an out-of-the-cage entertainment area in any home. Many feature hooks to hang your bird's favorite toys and encourage play. Plus, most have perches of varied textures and diameters to promote fun climbing and foot health.
Toys: Whether specialized or simple, toys are the easiest way to encourage play and exercise. Problem-solving toys engage your bird's mind and muscles. Sound toys tempt vocal play and encourage your bird to sing. Chew and shred toys help satisfy your bird's instincts to forage and play.

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