March 1998 Magazine
Most birds will eagerly enjoy a shower or bath. In colder climates it is best to bathe or shower your bird early in the day to allow the feathers to completely dry before the cooler evening hours. Birds with wet feathers should be kept away from drafts.
During colder seasons, the water temperature should be warm and it should feel comfortable to you. During warmer weather, cooler water temperatures may be more refreshing for your bird.
There are several different methods of bathing that include; showers, misting, and bathing. Some birds may have a specific preference while other birds may enjoy any or all types of bathing.
Always use plain water to bathe your bird. There are several shampoos marketed for parrots, but I recommend that you check with your vet as to the safety of these products before use. The majority of stains on feathers will disappear within a week. If your bird accidently gets into something that can't be removed with plain water, then call your vet to get recommendations as to which products will safely remove the substance.
Larger birds and dust producing species of birds will benefit from bathing in the shower. Several companies market parrot perches designed to be used in the shower. Make sure the shower perch is grooved to allow a sure footing. Wet PVC can be slippery causing difficulty in perching. When bathing your bird in the shower, make sure the spray is aimed at your bird's body area and away from his/her head. Allow your bird to get completely soaked down to his/her skin. Some birds prefer standing on your shoulder for their shower. They can then walk down your arm and assume various positions under the spray. Wearing a tee shirt in the shower will give the bird a better footing and also save your skin. Sharing your morning shower with your pet can be fun and save time, and don't be surprised if your bird becomes a closet shower singer.
You can also bathe your birds in your sink. Use a cloth diaper, rubber mat, or other item to line the sink. This will reduce the slickness of the wet sink and give your bird a good grip. Then, set the faucet to a comfortable warm temperature and let a light stream of water flow. You can also place a heavy dish directly under the stream of water. Make sure you remove any delicate objects away from your sink to prevent them from getting water damage.
Misting bottles work well for smaller birds but can be hard on the hands, especially if you have several pet birds. For multiple bird owners, you can use a new 5 gallon insecticide spray can. Use a NEW spray bottle or insecticide spray can filled with plain warm water. (Previously used bottles & cans may contain trace amounts of residual residues that could be toxic to your bird). Aim the spray directly over your birds head making sure the spray is not aimed at your bird's face. This will reduce the chance of water getting into their nares. Most birds will spread their wings trying to catch as much of the mist as possible. Some birds may not enjoy their first shower or bath, but keep it up, and eventually they will look forward to it.
Many birds will enjoy bathing in a large dish. A large ceramic dog dish works well. The weight of the ceramic dish will lessen the chance of your bird flipping the dish over. To prevent accidental drowning, make sure the water level is not higher than the top of your bird's leg. Fill the dish to the desired water level with plain warm water and set the dish inside of your birds cage, or on the kitchen counter, or in the sink, etc. NEVER allow your bird to bathe unsupervised.
One of the newest bathing products on the market is the "Shower Bird". It has a hose that attaches to most faucets. It puts out a nice even spray and it is easy to use.
One of the most frequently asked questions about bathing is "How often should I bathe my bird?" Many species of birds will bathe daily in their native habitats. If your schedule allows for a daily morning bath or shower, then make it part of your daily routine. For bird owners with busy schedules, a good soaking down to the skin once a week will prove beneficial.
After your bird has finished bathing, place him/her in a warm area of the house that is free from drafts. Blow drying your bird is unnecessary, and it defeats the purpose of adding moisture to your bird's feathers and skin. Blow dryers may contain Teflon or other toxic substances that can harm your bird. Blow dryers can also burn your bird's skin if too hot or held in one spot too long. If your bird becomes chilled after bathing, dry the feathers with towels.
During molting, increase the frequency of bathing. This will help alleviate the itchiness that can occur when the new feathers emerge. In addition, it will aid in keeping the feather sheaths soft, making them easy to remove. Birds who are having episodes of feather plucking will also benefit from frequent bathing. In warmer climates, frequent bathing can help reduce the risk of heat stress. Over-heated birds are in serious distress and in need of immediate medical attention.
Breeding pairs will benefit from daily bathing, too. Keep a water dish in their cage all day and change the water frequently. This will allow the nesting pair to regulate the humidity inside of the nestbox.
Bathing is not only essential too good health, it is a means to form stronger bonds between the flock. After bathing, pairs, siblings, etc. will mutually preen each other. So, save energy and build a stronger bond with your pet by sharing your next shower.
Winged Wisdom Note:Anne Johnson has been a companion bird owner for 12 years and has been breeding birds for the past 6 years. Anne is the owner and creator of Avian Antics Bird Toys, a well known manufacturer of bird toys.
A pet bird ezine, pet bird e-zine, for pet parrots & exotic birds. Cockatoo Parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises
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Bathing is natural for parrots & exotic birds. Learn the ABC's of baths and showers for pet birds.
Cockatoo Parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises