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Pet Bird Exercise Tips

Pet birds are natural athletes, so giving them time daily to fly or exercise is important. Follow this weekly schedule to get your pet bird to exercise.

Diane Grindol


Here are some ideas to work exercise into daily routines, whether your pet bird has a wing-feather trim or is fully flighted.

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Get out your ladder. Place your pet bird at the bottom, and it will naturally climb up the ladder or branch to the top. Over the course of the day, ask your pet bird to do this several times. You can also play a ladder game with a shorter ladder. Hold the ladder at a slight angle, encouraging your pet bird to climb. As your pet bird reaches the top, turn the ladder so it’s at the bottom again.

Let your pet bird forage for its food. Hide special treats like seeds in packets of paper twisted at the end. Hang a broccoli floweret on the side of the cage. Twist vegetables through cage bars. Make this the day your bird gets a millet treat, so that it has to harvest the seeds. Put pellets in a shallow bowl filled with clean pebbles, beads or marbles, and place it on the bottom of the cage for your bird to forage through. String toasted oat cereal on a shoestring. Purchase foraging toys from your favorite store or website.

Put a new toy in your pet bird’s cage; one  that is interactive and encourages exercise. This doesn’t have to be a new toy, but could be one of a set of toys you keep in a toy box and rotate in regularly so that it is new and interesting to your bird.

Birds like to move small parts, ring bells, untie knots and chew on strands of rawhide, raffia or palm. Since birds see color, they’ll appreciate toys with colored beads or parts.

Let’s fly! If your pet bird’s wing feathers are trimmed, hold onto its feet securely and encourage it to flap its wings. Your flighted bird will appreciate some time out of its cage, with safe landing spots in different parts of a bird-proofed room or hallway.

Include your pet bird in your daily activities. Take it from room to room on a portable perch. Let your bird walk up and down counters, across the back of the sofa or around your bed with toys spread throughout.

More shredding fun for your bird when you offer it natural branches to tear up.  Wash off eucalyptus, willow or fruit wood branches (except cherry), or supply hedge for your bird to chew on. Tear up newspaper, get strips of rawhide, or start to uncurl an adding machine tape and lay it on top of the cage.

More walking and flying time. Call your pet bird from the end of a hallway, enticing it to you with treats or a favorite perch. Ask it to walk or fly up and down the hall a few times, giving it plenty of exercise.

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Posted: February 9, 2012, 10:45 a.m. PDT

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Pet Bird Exercise Tips

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Reader Comments
great article
n, n, TN
Posted: 1/8/2013 5:04:31 AM
good ideas for increasing exercise!
Gabby, San Diego, CA
Posted: 1/7/2013 7:59:05 PM
I have a Hahns who is a content "perch potato" by nature, enjoying watching the world. Lucky also "wines and "grumbles" I've worked with many birds and know no other that does that. However, he can be very loving and his favorite perch is my shoulder. After a bath he gets quite rowdy and exuberant, but he has to be in the mood for one.

If I speak in a sing-song silly voice Lucky will lie on his side or back and want to gently wrestle and "beak my hand. He plays quietly with toys. To get him more active, I have him to hang off the back of my shirt as I walk quickly. He'll flap his wings, seeming to enjoy this (good for me too).

It is so important to get to know and respect the personalities of our individual birds, and to provide a safe environment.

Speaking of safety, constantly monitor birds when they are out and about. Can't really take eyes of them if there are any hazards in the environment. Realize that when they are outdoors they can come in contact (on pavement, trees, even grasses and foliage) with pathogens to which their immune systems are not adapted. Make everyone wash or "gel" their hands before the touch your bird. (I carry around a bottle.)

Be careful about what paper (not glossed/coated and only colored with food-safe dyes) and cardboard (none with coating or glue or toxic coloring) that they chew on.

A healthy, loved bird is a happy bird.
Kirsi, Bellingham, WA
Posted: 2/24/2012 12:03:32 PM
My parrots enjoy most of these things. My gray, eclectus and amazon both love to perch on a hand and flap their wings....we call this "fly birdie"!
colleen, whiting, NJ
Posted: 2/21/2012 5:20:12 PM
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