Easy DIY Foraging Box For Birds (Step-By-Step)

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

Keeping your bird busy and engaged is crucial to their overall well-being.

One of the best ways to achieve this is by providing a foraging box – a delightful toy that encourages your bird’s natural instincts. In this short guide, I’ll show you how to make an enriching DIY foraging box for your bird in 4 easy steps. 

Seriously, it’s so simple you could do it in 5 minutes or less.

And the best part?

It’s made using common materials you can probably find in your home right now!

Alright, let’s start.

Steps to follow:

Step By Step Guide To Making a Foraging Box For Birds

First, you need some crafting materials:

  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Cardboard

Cardboard isn’t necessary, but you can add it to the foraging box for extra foraging fun for your bird.

Once you have scissors and paper, we can start making our foraging box!

Step 1: Get a Cardboard Box

Any type of box made from cardboard will do.

Just make sure the specific box you get doesn’t have anything other than cardboard, like glue or harmful materials.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Cereal box
  • Paper or cardboard plates
  • Other cardboard food boxes
  • Your bird’s empty seed box

I’ve included an image of my previous foraging tray to show you what type of boxes you can use:

Foraging box for parrot

My cockatiel is currently grazing out of a paper plate.

That’s seriously how cheap it’ll be to make this highly effective foraging box!

Step 2: Cut It Into a Foraging Box Shape

Got those scissors nearby? Good!

Now that you’ve selected a cardboard box, you’re going to need to cut it into the shape of a foraging tray. 

For example, cereal boxes typically look like this:

Foraging box for birds

But you’re going to cut it up so it looks more like this:

Cockatiel foraging tray

Cutting the cardboard box like this gives your bird easier access to the foraging tray you’ll soon set up for them. Instead of having those “walls” blocking your bird’s way, they’ll be able to walk right into the foraging box.

Feel free to get creative with this step.

You can cut it into shapes, cut one side only, or leave it as is so your bird needs to walk into the cereal box to begin foraging.

Whatever you do, make it interesting for your bird!

Step 3: Add Delicious Food To The Foraging Box

You can’t have a foraging box without anything for your bird to forage for.

Step 3 is to add some food variety to the foraging tray that your bird likes.

Make sure the food you add is something your bird favours as this will motivate them to search, graze, and forage through the box.  

Some good food suggestions for most parrots include:

  • Seeds (especially good for cockatiels and budgies)
  • Millet spray (my cockatiel LOVES this stuff)
  • Walnuts
  • Pellets
  • Dried fruit
  • Almond slivers
  • Peanuts (good for larger parrots)

Make sure to add the food before moving onto the next step.

Step 4: Add Foraging Materials To The Box

In the wild, parrots forage through various materials in their habitat to find food.

That’s exactly what we need to replicate with our foraging box!

Once you’ve added your bird’s favourite food to the box, you can start filling it up with foraging materials.

Most bird-safe materials work well for this.

Here are a few foraging material suggestions:

  • Shredded paper (white and coloured)
  • Parts from your bird’s old toys
  • Bamboo cutlery (spoons, forks, knives, etc.)
  • Cardboard squares
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Your bird’s moulted feathers
  • Even washed foliage from outside!

As long as the material is bird-safe, you can add it to the foraging tray.

Once you’ve added delicious treats and foraging material to your box, it’s pretty much all done.

Your bird will have a blast foraging through their new toy!

Related: 23 Safe Materials You Can Use For DIY Bird Toys

Best Location For a Parrot Foraging Box

Some foraging toys can be attached to the cage via a quick link connector.

However, since we’ve created a foraging box for our birds, there are really only 2 places we can put it:

  1. On top of the cage ceiling
  2. Or on the cage floor

I usually just put it on top:

Foraging tray for birds and parrots

My cockatiel seems to prefer foraging up there, so that’s where I put it.

However, it’s also a good idea to put one on the floor of the cage, especially if your bird enjoys going down there to pick up seed bits and crumbs.

You can easily make one for both locations if you like!

Why Foraging Toys Are Great For Birds

Wild birds don’t have easy access to food from a bowl like our pets do.

Instead, they need to fly around and find grazing spots where they’ll spend time foraging through materials for food. In fact, most parrots, like cockatiels and budgies, spend up to 50% – 70% of their waking hours foraging for food[1]

This is why foraging toys are awesome!

Because they simulate how our birds would behave in the wild.

Foraging trays encourage natural behaviours and provide mental stimulation, which parrots thrive on.

What Other Toys Are Good For Parrots?

Besides foraging toys, your bird will benefit from having these 2 types of toys in the cage:

  1. Chew toys
  2. Puzzle toys

Chew toys include things like soft wooden objects, popsicle sticks, and cuttlefish bones.

Pretty much anything tough enough to exercise your bird’s beak can be used as a shredding toy.

My cockatiel’s favourites are popsicle sticks and bamboo cutlery!

As for puzzle toys, there are many different types. 

Puzzle toys require your bird to discover how it works so they can get treats, which is good for mental stimulation.

Here’s one I got for Arthur, my cockatiel:

Foraging box for pet birds DIY

He has to pull down the egg shaped container for food to fall out. 

This is a good one, but there are plenty of other great puzzle toys you can get for your bird.

Thanks for reading!

Read next: Top 10 Best Foraging Toys For Small Parrots


  1. https://www.thevetshed.com.au/blog/enriching-the-life-of-your-pet-bird/4427


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