Beekmans, M. H. C., Vinke, C. M., Maijer, A. et al. 2023. Increasing foraging times with appetitive and consummatory foraging enrichment in grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 265, 105986.

Foraging enrichment is considered one of the most effective ways to enhance expression of species-typical behaviours and prevent the development of abnormal (repetitive) behaviours in captive animals. However, foraging enrichments for parrots have thus far not been able to approximate natural foraging time budgets nor completely eliminate abnormal behaviours such as feather damaging behaviour. This might be related to the design of currently available foraging enrichments, which generally stimulate a subset of foraging activities rather than foraging behaviour in its entirity. We therefore designed a two-component foraging enrichment that addressed both the appetitive and consummatory phases of foraging. To evaluate whether foraging times would approximate those in the wild (4–8 h/day), we studied the effect of the separate and combined components on foraging behaviour in 12 healthy grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) using a balanced cross-over design. Parrots were provided food by means of the appetitive (APP), consummatory (CONS), and combined (APP+CONS) component(s) of the foraging enrichment, and in a food trough that served as a control (CTRL; no enrichment) for 30 days per test condition. The time spent on foraging was evaluated on days 2, 14 and 30 in all four test conditions using continuous focal sampling. Each of the single components (APP or CONS) increased daily foraging times from 2 to 3 h per day (CTRL: 121 ± 16 min/24 h, APP: 176 ± 31 min/24 h, CONS: 194 ± 26 min/24 h), while the combined enrichment doubled daily foraging times (APP+CONS: 234 ± 42 min/24 h), thereby approaching natural foraging time budgets. Foraging times remained steady over the 30 days, indicating no habituation or change in use of the enrichments throughout this period. These results demonstrate the importance of providing both appetitive and consummatory activities to generate effective foraging opportunities for parrots. Such a bottom-up approach could be beneficial for other (parrot) species as well.

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