A BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF EATING ETIQUETTE
by Carol and Ken Highfill
Birds have methods of eating which are all their own and are designed to
befuddle their owners. Somehow they must have a way of communicating them to
each other, since many birds use these techniques with their humans. Here
are some common eating and drinking rules of etiquette, strictly from a
birds point of view.
Food Bowl Etiquette
The Foot Strainer
Place one foot on the side of the food
bowl, using the other foot as a utensil. Grab a foot full of food and lift.
Smaller seeds and pieces of food will fall to the floor, making a funny
noise. Eat the one or two pieces which remain in the foot. Repeat until the
bowl is empty.
The Dainty Selector
Approach the fresh dish of food.
Daintily select pieces of food and gently drop to the floor of the cage
until only a few desired pieces of food remain in the bowl. Proceed to eat.
When done, call for more food.
One at a time, hold each piece of fruit,
veggie or pasta in the foot. Take one bite and drop the remainder on the
floor. This ensures that there will be room for treats and other delicacies
The Dried Fruit Gourmet
Choose pieces of dried fruit.
Carefully place them in the water bowl. Return later, after they have
plumped up. Then remove from the bowl, taste and drop on the floor.
Approach a full dish of food. Bury the beak
in the bowl and with a quick snap of the neck, sweep the food sideways out
of the dish. Use short quick strokes to cover most of the cage bottom with
pretty patterns of food. If feeling energetic, shovel harder to decorate the
walls and floor outside of the cage. This method helps convince the pet
owner that a different kind of food is preferred.
The 20 foot Fling
Dip the foot in a food dish and grab a
large foot full of goodies. Close the foot into a ball around the items,
raise the foot and throw as far as possible. This technique not only gets to
the walls and floors, but reaches much of the furniture as well.
The Grate Houdini
From time to time drop morsels of
favorite foods on the cage floor. Let them remain there while they age to
the proper potency. When ready, climb down to the cage floor and sample the
delicacies. Many pet owners have placed grates in the bottom of the cage. To
thwart this maneuver, just stretch a leg through the grate to get at the
prize. Most birds have legs long enough to reach the tray below the grate.
If the owner changes the cage papers daily, begin dropping pieces of food
just after the change so that the food has at least a few hours to ripen.
The Butter or Sauce Scraper
This maneuver is to foil the
human who coats a piece of undesirable food with butter, sauce or something
else that birds really love. Just hold the piece of food in the foot and use
the beak to skim off the good tasting part, leaving the unwanted portion
Pack a Lunch
Tuck seeds, pellets or other choice items
among the feathers and under the wings. It messes up the human's
measurements of how much is eaten and puzzles them when they give you a
For birds with an artistic flair and a good
sense of color. Break off a piece of dyed wood from a favorite toy and place
in the water dish. From time to time, return to the dish and mix. When the
water has turned a satisfactory color, call for the pet owner to admire the
creation and replace the water. Begin a new artistic work.
Carefully select a choice piece of food from
the food dish. Items like pellets, cheerios or birdie bread are best. Dip in
the water bowl until thoroughly soaked. Sample the moist delicacy and decide
that it doesn't taste as good as expected. Leave the item in the water bowl
and start complaining about the messy water.
The Water Bottle Trick
For those birds lucky enough to
have a water bottle. Select the proper size seed and wedge it into the water
bottle tip. This keeps the water bottle mechanism open and creates a nice
waterfall effect. Experienced birds can also use the beak or a toe to
achieve the same effect.
Eating at the Dinner Table
The Plate Stomp
Explore the various foods available on
the table, before making a selection. Just approach each bowl or plate and
walk through it, making sure to pass through each item on the plate. Foods
with sauces and dressings are especially great. They stick to the feet and
allow the flavors to mix with other food items. The messy feet also
discourage the pet owner from picking a bird up from the table.
The Shoulder Trick
Select a piece of food which has a
sauce (such as pasta) or a juicy item (such as a piece of tomato). Holding
the food in the beak, as fast as possible climb up the arm of a human to the
shoulder. Proceed to eat the messy food, dropping sauce or juice on the
human's clothes. When done, drop the remainder and wipe the beak on a still
clean portion of the item of clothing. A true expert bird can perfect the
'Squeegie Trick'. Hold a piece of pasta with sauce in the foot and bite off
the end. Pull the pasta through the foot to get another bit, while at the
same time forcing the sauce to come off on the foot. Place this foot on the
human's shoulder when it has become sufficiently covered with sauce. Climb
down the arm to get another piece of food.
The Floor Caper
After selecting items from a dinner
plate, take a few bites and fling the remainder to the floor. To throw the
food further, fling the food from a human's shoulder. If the human becomes
annoyed, placate it by offering it a bit of the food or saying something
cute and looking innocent.
Eat to Get a Hug
Grab all the garlic you can find -
garlic bread, salad dressing, etc. Then give the human a kiss. The human
will give you hugs and scratches - anything to avoid getting another
odorous, garlic breathe kiss. Also effective is the 'Pepper Kiss'. A kiss
after eating hot red peppers or jalapenos will definitely get a human's