Bathing Your Bird


During those hot summer months it is very important to keep your birds (and yourself) cool. There are a lot of birds out there, however, who don't seem to like baths. Each species usually has its own particular preference when it comes to bathing. Matching the right technique with the right bird can be essential.

There are four basic ways to bathe your bird:

Spray Misting
Some birds will run away from the spray in terror while others will flip upsidedown and spread their wings in joy. Cockatiels are mist bathers, even if some of them don't know it. During the hot summer months I mist my flight tiels and most of them enjoy it. One of the ways to get a bird interested in spray baths is not to directly hit them with the spray. Try aiming off to the side, perhaps at another bird. Many tiels get into bathing mode when just a little bit of the mist from the spray next to them floats over. Amazons and other South American species also enjoy this type of bathing.

When misting try not to hit the bird in the face or directly unless they are really getting into the pleasure of the bath. Instead spray just above them so that the mist falls down on their back.

Tiels enjoying spray misting. Click to enlarge. Jet Spraying
This is NOT recommended for most birds. A few of the hardcore water lovers seem to enjoy being jet spray smack in the face with a hose or other powerful stream of water. My old pair of white-winged parakeets (Brotogeris) used to love this.

Tub Bathing
Tub bathing is what most other birds like. Many tub bathers will try to squeeze into their water dish. This is one of the reasons why I hate water bottles (always provide a bowl of water in addition to a bottle). If your bird is already trying to bath in its water dish it's just one easy step for you to provide a larger bathing bowl. Some birds are hesitant about bathing in a bowl. I found that playing in the water with your hand or letting a constant stream of water from the sink trickle in helps. I got my greencheek conur to bath in a bowl I'd hold over the sink or in the sink itself. She always wanted the water running though.

One thing you'll notice is that tub bathers tend to be a bit more nervous about their baths. In the wild this type of bathing is dangerous because pools are great for predators to catch their prey off-guard. Wet birds also can't fly as well. Cages are considered by most birds to be "safe" areas so this nervousness usually only occurs when a bird is asked to bath somewhere away from the cage. Reassure your bird by talking to it, playing some soft music in the background or playing in the water yourself. Never leave a tub bather alone during a bath- you are their lookout for predators. Leaving can give them a fright and shatter their willingness to take baths in the future.

Leaf Bathing
This type of bathing is unique to some Australian parakeets, like budgies. Budgies will actually take wet leaves and roll around on them and wrap themselves up in them. You can sometimes mist them while they are doing this or get them to leaf bath by misting first. Provide large, wet lettuce leaves.

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