Backyard Foraging

It’s almost easier to provide foraging treats and toys for my inside birds. There are cardboard boxes, paper bags, and lots of fun things readily available. Stuff a few peanuts, almonds, and wooden blocks into a bag or box, and off it goes for a really good time. The outside birds don’t seem to have much interest in boxes or bags. Toys are ignored. So I like to roam around my yard to find treats for them.

Number one on my list is dandelions. We neither fertilize or spray weed killer in the back yard or flower beds in front, so all our dandelion-greens are safe to use for the birds. The flower heads are very good for finches and grass parakeets.

Next is your ordinary grass. The cockatiels and budgies love the greens as well as the seed heads. This is my favorite time of year, when the seed heads come up and bring lots of nutrition with them.

Year round, I can give the birds palm fronds. Most of what I have available are Mexican fan palms. None of the ones in my yard are as tall as the ones in the link’s photos, or I would not be able to access them. Lovebirds especially like palm fronds for nesting materials.

When I had my first cockatiel, I gave him leaves off a peach tree in our yard. He loved the leaves, and ate them regularly. He never had any ill effects from the treat, but every list of toxic plants I have seen since then includes peach. I also gave him asparagus fern, and still use that today. I have it growing in pots around the yard. Note: asparagus fern is invasive and if planted in the ground, will take over the yard. Keep it confined in pots.

Somewhere I read that budgies need the enzymes in eucalyptus leaves and branches to trigger breeding. I have never been able to find that article again. However, I do give all my Australian hookbills and finches eucalyptus leaves now and then. The outside aviary has a potted tree just outside it. I turn the pot every few weeks so that fresh branches and growth can be eaten from inside the cage.

Last year I had a long, low planter that I set outside the aviary and planted snap peas there. The vines grew up the side of the aviary, and the cockatiels had a snack on the vines and leaves. Some of the plants managed to produce pea pods, which I was able to share with many of the birds besides just the aviary group.

At one time, I had a wild bird feeder outside the window of the bird room. The inside birds loved watching and talking to the outside birds, but the outside birds mostly wanted the free lunch. Not long after that, a lovely bush of milo grew up under the spot the feeder had been. Also called grain sorghum, it put up full seed heads and kept on growing after I harvested the stalks.

These are just a few of the safe plants I have around my yard that I can collect and feed to my birds. I know they enjoy it by the excitement when I approach the aviary with an armful of greens, and the happy chatter as they head for the treat sometimes before I put it down.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.


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