In the wild, parrots fly many miles a day in search of food, mates and safe resting spots as well as in defending nesting sites and fleeing predators. In the process, they get a lot of aerobic exercise.
Exercise and play are critical to a parrot’s physical, mental and emotional well being. Exercise enhances physical conditioning (cardiovascular & muscle health), stimulates the brain and offers an outlet to alleviate boredom and stress. The risk of too little exercise is heart disease, obesity, depression, lethargy and behavioral problems such as aggressiveness, screaming or plucking.
Unfortunately, in captivity, our pet birds live a relatively sedentary existence which can lead to obesity and related long term health problems. The risks of obesity are well known: circulatory problems, heart disease, respiratory distress, fatty liver disease, fatty tumor formation, kidney disease and joint disease (arthritis). Avian obesity can be avoided by increasing exercise levels and by providing an appropriate diet that isn’t too high in calories or fat content.
For optimal health, we need to provide our birds with opportunities to move, climb, flap and fly to help keep their muscles toned, joints healthy and heart conditioned. Providing outlets for exercise will also help them reduce their stress level, improve their balance and coordination as well as enhance their mental alertness.