I found some pine cones scattered around a local park and collected a whole garbage bag full. Pine cones will not go rotten and will keep virtually forever as long as they are kept in a dark, dry place. A garage is perfect.
It's now the time to collect them here in QLD as nice sized ones are dropping from trees.
Wash thoroughly and allow your pine cones to dry in the sun. Alternatively you can wash and then bake them in a conventional oven until dry.
I use a mild dish washing detergent and then rinse the pine cones under running water until I'm 100% sure all of the soap is washed off.
Once dry they are ready to be used!
To make these foraging pine cones you will need some fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and some string.
Today I decided to focus on making a fruit and nut pine cone for Clopin (Plum-headed Parakeet) and a fruit-only pine cone for Dende (Scaly-breasted Lorikeet). I also made a seed and veggie pine cone for the budgies.
From left to right I have; Mango, Kiwi, Strawberries, Blueberries, Mixed Nuts and Mixed Seeds.
Chop the veggies, fruits and nuts into smaller chunks so that they will be able to fit snuggly between the pine cone spikes.
Cut a piece of string that will be long enough to tie around the pine cone while still leaving enough rope to tie to the cage.
Tie one end of the string around the top of the pine cone.
It's a good idea to tie a double-knot.
Once tied to the string it should look like this:
Now you can start adding the treats!
Simply squeeze the treats between the pine cone spikes. Larger pieces of fruit and veggies can be place towards the top of the cone where the spikes are further apart. Smaller treats such as seeds and nuts can be placed towards the bottom of the pine cone where the gaps between the spikes are closer together.
Keep filling the gaps in the pine cone spikes with treats until most of the pine cone is covered. Don't be shy to stuff some of the mushier foods (like mangoes) right in there.
The pine cone is now ready for your fids! Hang it in the cage and make sure you cut off any excess string.
Let your fids enjoy their pine cone treat!
Please remember to always supervise your fids while using these pine cones. Like all toys with string, these pine cones could be a strangling hazard if left unattended in your fid's cage.
Here are a few snaps of Clopin and Dende enjoying their foraging pine cones.
"Is it safe...?"
"Strawberry! My favourite."
"Gotta get right in there!"