Bathing Parrots: Shower Perches & Misters
In the wild, parrots must have excellent feather condition to fly well. They meticulously care for their feathers with regular baths and appropriate preening. Wild birds teach their young how to properly care for their feathers.
Feathers provide several functions for birds.They insulate the body and assist in controlling body temperature. Water-proof, feathers protect the bird from the elements. Feathers are used to blend in with the environment and 'flirting' with a potential mate.
Our pet birds are subject to "unnatural dirt" on their feathers in the form of oil from human hands, cleaning chemicals, newsprint, dirt and bacteria transferred from our hands, lipstick, household cleaners and a multitude of other substances. Imagine being wired to meticulously care for your feathers but having to consume unnatural oils and chemicals when you choose to preen. While it is a natural behavior for our pet birds to want to keep their feathers in top notch condition, they often must consume unnatural substances to get the job done.
Wild parrots bathe in the rain, near splashing or running water, and in streams. While feather grooming or preening is an important and time consuming part of their day, so is hunting and foraging for food and interacting with flockmates.
How does your pet bird spend its day?
Our pet birds, then, are subject to unnatural substances on their feathers, boredom because food is alway readily available, and lonliness without a lifelong mate nor flockmates. These are exactly the reasons why pet birds have a tendency to become obsessed with their feathers.
Help your bird keep its instinctual need for grooming in check by bathing your bird several times a week. You'll want to bathe it more if you have allergies or if you wish to keep your house spic and span. In addition, deter compulsive feather plucking by offering food foraging opportunities, bird toys and plenty of socialization.
How to Bathe Your Pet Bird
Remember, wild birds shower daily and parent birds teach their young about feather care. While we can't demonstrate proper feather care like a Momma and Papa bird can, but we can acclimate our birds to showering in our household. You can help your bird rinse dirt and debris off feathers daily while even making bathing your bird a social ritual.
SMALL BIRDS: Provide your pet bird with daily bathing opportunties. If you have a small bird like a parakeet, lovebird or cockatiel, offer an interior bird bath. Make sure to change the water daily. Small birds also love bathing in large leafy vegetables. A large sopping wet leafy green such as collard, turnip, mustard or kale provides a pleasurable and natural bathing experience while providing good vitamin A nutrition. Small wild parakeets have been spotted rolling around on wet, fallen leaves. Small birds also enjoy a shower as long as they are in the droplets vs. the spray right out of the shower head.
MEDIUM TO LARGE BIRDS: Many parrot species, including African Grey Parrots and Caique's, enjoy a thorough saturation. You'll find a bird shower perch to be indespensible.
A shower perch is important for your birds physical and mental health. Your bird has an instinctual need for clean feathers and socialization, even if the shower or water may be scary. Most pet birds haven't had a parrot parent teach them how to bathe. But the consequences of dirty feathers far outweigh the ease of teaching your pet bird how to properly clean its feathers in a domestic environment.
Use Positive Behavior Reinforcement methods like those taught in Clicker Training for Birds to teach your bird to enjoy bird baths and showers. The process seems time consuming, but the effort is painless to your bird and it pays off big time in terms of preventing health and behavioral problems.
Most parrots love to bathe.Some parrots like to take baths in their water bowl! Unfortunately, this leaves a big mess and gets food particles in their plumage. Our Lixit Bath offers a nice alternative. This shallow, wide dish is fun to splash in. Place it away from the food bowl, though!
If your parrot is afraid to bathe, slowly model how getting wet in the shower can be fun. We like to place new parrots on the shower door or shower rod in a place away from the water jets. And, in a demonstrative display, we show our birds how fun a shower is several times.
Make sure that the water that sprays on your bird is not too overwhelming for it's small body. If the shower perch is placed on the same wall as the shower nozzle, the water lands on your parrot is less intense.
We reassure our fearful birds or liven up time the shower with fun antics as if it were playtime for our more assured birds. And, of course offering them a favorite treat during the process speeds up training.
Once your parrot is comfortable with a good bird bath, you will want to use parrot shampoo approximately once a month or less to remove excess dander, dust, oils and debris from the plummage. Parrot shampoo is specially formulated to protect and enhance sensitive parrot skin and rinse easily, as you don't want your parrot ingesting remaining parrot shampoo.
Some parrots like a mist. As your bird becomes more accustomed to showers, place your bird where it can be drenched for top-notch feather health. Misting your parrot is also important for quickly rinsing feathers and encouraging healthy preening.
The law of the jungle is to 'preen until your clean' and a very dirty bird may pluck to try to get his feathers clean. We like to mist our parrots when they are on their bird stand. Spray your parrots torso thoroughly being careful not to get water in his eyes, ears or nostrils. Most daily bathing and misting should be done with plain water. Dry your bird with a towel and place him in a warm area making sure he does not get chilled, especially in the winter. Peachy enjoys the blow dryer during chilly winter months.
Most parrots love taking a shower with their owners so it is a great time for bonding and interacting with your bird. A shower perch will be one of the best investments that you make for your bird. You can place the bird shower perch in various places in your shower to monitor the intensity of the water stream. Like bathing is essential for a child, it is also essential for your bird.