A perch potato is a bird that rarely gets any physical activity and is content sitting on a perch all day long. In humans we might call these couch potatoes.
In the wild, birds are constantly active, but in captivity, with home and food so close, there is often little incentive to exercise. Pet birds rarely get the chance to fly, and even large cages are still smaller than a bird’s natural habitat. Despite bird owners’ best efforts to provide toys and opportunities for physical activity, some pet birds just aren’t interested in exercise when it’s not necessary. Amazons, for example, are notorious perch potatoes. Why bother moving around when you have delicious food and such a comfy perch so close by?
Unfortunately, perch potatoes are susceptible to more diseases and ailments than active, healthy birds. Besides obesity, inactivity can also lead to problems with blood circulation, breathing, and muscle weakness. A lot of the same issues that couch potatoes have to worry about are also problems for perch potatoes—things like high cholesterol, heart disease, and fatty liver disease. Perch potatoes also can become bored, leading to things like feather plucking, screaming, and self-mutilation.
Luckily, there are many ways to encourage your perch potato to get off his perch. If your bird doesn’t like his current toys, try new ones. Ladders and swings are easy additions that require more activity than normal perches, and foraging toys add additional activity to mealtimes. For out-of-cage time, a play gym is more fun than a T-stand, and it’s also an easy way to get more exercise into your bird’s life. Just like with couch potatoes, it’s a matter of finding what your bird enjoys and encouraging him to do more of that and less lounging around.