Enriching Parrots AND Their Parronts

Keeping our parrots healthy not just physically, but emotionally and instinctively requires a little bit of creativity on our part. Fortunately, people like Louann have done extensive research on ways to provide Avian Enrichment. She is the human behind the popular Instagram account @Parrotsrus and she’s also one of the organizers for the Collaborating for Avian Wellness seminars. She is talented at enriching parronts too, as she shares with us a little about bonding, contrafreeloading, and auditory stimulation.


We Have a Really Big Problem!

By Louann, @parrotsrus

I got my start doing avian enrichment over 30 years ago by experimenting with ways to provide enrichment for my first bird who was a beautiful blue and yellow parakeet named “Bird” (how original, right?!). Back then, my mindset was more simplistic than it is today, as there weren’t many options, nor a lot of accessible information about enrichment overall, other than the fact that I knew I didn’t want to provide him with a mirror if I wanted to keep him focused on creating a bond with me. Keeping him from a mirror kept him focused on our training sessions, whether it was teaching him to talk, how to safely fly and land, fetch a ball or flight recall. The majority of his enrichment came from a small set of toys, the time he spent training with me and overall interactions with our entire family. I have learned so much since then, and now looking back, I really wasn’t very creative, but the enrichment opportunities I provided did seem to work rather well.


Avian enrichment is an inherently key tenet to Avian Wellness. Enrichment is essentially part of life in the wild, so the more we understand the natural behavior of each bird species in the wild, the better we can tailor the enrichment opportunities. If I were to give advice on enrichment, I’d tell parronts a couple of things:

1) It’s not just about toys—it’s multidimensional! There are many forms of enrichment, ranging from auditory stimulation, social interactions, visual and colors, training, foraging, exercise, bathing and even putting on an Avian Fashions FlightSuit and enjoying the outdoors together.

2) Contrafreeloading is a THING – a scientific thing! What’s Contrafreeloading? Glad you asked. It’s when, if given two identical food item choices, an animal prefers to work for its food rather than eat it from a bowl. Think about that a bit . . . let that sink in . . . then conduct your own scientific experiment and see for yourself!

3) Provide your flock with auditory enrichment! Besides providing a diversity of toys, foraging opportunities, training and more, I give my flock auditory enrichment by way of leaving on the radio or the PBS channel. To my surprise, one day I realized the birds actually do learn from having the TV on, when Versace, our Harlequin Macaw suddenly burst out, “We have a REALLY Big Problem!” (From Peg + Cat).

Want to learn more about enrichment and the 3 other tenets of Avian Wellness? (Nutrition; Behavior and Health)

Join the C4AW (Collaborating 4 Avian Wellness) team in Chicago:

November 15-16, Pheasant Run Resort, St Charles Illinois

Receive an All-Access Pass to the National Bird Show; TASC Vendor Hall, Avian Education Seminars and some fantastic raffles that any avian mom & dad would love!

Register HERE.

Also, on Sunday, more enrichment education — Can Parrots Learn to Read?

Reading, Math & More! All Day Workshop!! — Jennifer Cuhna

Use Code: C4AW to SAVE 10%!

Register HERE.

We look forward to meeting you there!