Foraging has been a hot topic in the bird community in recent years. Many people are aware of the concept, but few employ it because it often seems like a lot of extra work.
Quite simply, foraging means “searching for food” – something all wild animals do. Captive animals, on the other hand, typically have food appear in a bowl in front of them.
Research has shown that birds benefit from foraging for their food and even prefer it!
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In its natural environment, a bird is surrounded by a multitude of unpredictable stimuli to which it is adapted to respond (Van Rooijen 1991) and therefore it is able to exert control over certain environmental stimuli. However, within a cage often there is little unpredictability.
Thus, the animal has little control over any aspects of its environment, a situation to which it is not well adapted (see Hughes & Duncan 1988).