Cesar enjoys feeding the parrots. Here we cut up some apples for them and Cesar is giving it to them through the mesh. They can get pretty excited about food and Cesar is still busy learning how to work with them inside the aviary (they really like playing with toes and shoes…)
When we feed the parrots we give each parrot a ‘turn’ as we hand out the apple pieces to make sure they feel equally considered and don’t feel like they’re missing out. Food is a central point in most animals’ lives – and if they feel like they are ‘missing out’ in relation to other flock/herd/pack members it can shift the interpersonal relationships amongst one another. If they see a friend getting something while they don’t – it can breed jealousy where they later bully or pick on the one who got. If they’re the more introverted type, they can go into anxiety and nervousness which many animals see as a weakness, and get picked up on by others.
African Grey parrots are highly intelligent birds and are known to be the best ‘talkers’ of all parrots. In their natural environment their intelligence is an absolute must to forage in various challenging environments and finding a wide variety of food.
Unfortunately often when African Greys are kept as pets, their intelligence goes unchallenged and their food source remains simplistic. Even worse – often times the parrots are fed a diet consisting mainly out of sunflower seeds which are high in oil and fatty content – which is the ‘sugar rush’ equivalent for humans. Their dietary requirements go unmet, they are hyperactive and don’t have a medium to challenge their intelligence. While well kept African Greys can live on average for 50 years, and wild ones even to 80 (!) – many die as early as 5 to 8 years after purchase… That’s only a mere 10% of what they should be living.
This leaves many parrots with a lot of health issues and self-destructive behaviour, where they end up using their own intelligence against themselves.
At the Desteni Farm we strive to give the African Grey parrots a wide variety in food, space for exercise and play with they fellow flock members – and ways to engage their intelligence.
We started making our own parrot toys after we did a big pruning ‘spring clean’ around the farm, where we ended up with many branches from trees which are parrot safe (such as guava and mulberry). This gives Cesar and I an added activity to craft and play – and the parrots get toys to play with = win-win!
You can support the African Grey Parrots and other animals at the Desteni Farm by becoming a Patreon Here.