In my last post I talked about some simple options for foraging foods that can encourage parrots to spend more time feeding in functionally relevant ways that match how these little guys are biologically built to behave. A few years ago I published an article in Australian Birdkeeper Magazine that discussed the disparity between variability vs predictability in a parrots daily experience set in captive environments compared to natural environments. It’s what I call the `80/20 rule’. No hard and fast science here – just an anecdotal generalization of activity budget and what a parrot is likely to experience on any given day either in the wild or as a pet in someone’s home that is simple enough for everyone to get the picture that life in the wild is a heck of a lot more variable than life in the living room.
The simple equation suggests that a parrot in the wild is likely to have a high degree of variability (that’s the 80%) and low degree of predictability (that’s the 20%) in its daily experience set. Conversely, the captive parrot is likely to experience a low degree of variability (20%) and high degree of predictability (80%) in its daily experience set. This sets up the challenge to address the disparity and bridge the gap in that 80/20 ratio between predictability versus variability. It’s the key to long-term behavioural success in our birds. A simple way to start is to categorise all of the experiences your parrot has in a day – eg, feeding, bathing, social interaction, exploration, out of cage, in cage, on playstand etc. Think of alternative ways that each of those experiences can be presented and how you can reduce their predictability on a daily or even weekly schedule. In the next post I will illustrate one super simple way that you can make change the norm. Change and Choice – two great words to keep in mind when setting the environment up for your parrot to succeed and doing something proactive about that 80/20 rule.