Why is it so important to groom your bird on a regular basis? Birds benefit from baths, nail trims, and wing trims. Nails, if not properly cut, can catch and snag on toys or materials, and the bird risks injury. Wings properly trimmed not only keep a tame bird from flying away, but it helps to keep it more in control. Bathing helps to remove the dirt and debris from the bird, keeping its feathers healthier and attractive.
Ways to Bathe
There is no one single method of bathing a bird. Some birds prefer showers, others baths. However, under no circumstances should you ever take the bird into the bath tub with you! A bird may go into the shower with you provided it is not too hot or on full force.
A shower using a mine mist from a squirt bottle is a wonderful method to bathe your bird. Using warm water (though some prefer a cold to room temperature mist), gently mist your bird. If your bird is not too fond of this you may need to proceed slowly. There are some misting bottles that deliver such a fine mist that the bird may not object to it.
There are now many companies that manufacture shower perches designed to take your parrot into the shower with you. If you go this route, remember to make sure that the water is not too hot. Water that is too hot can scald your bird. Water that is on full force can injure your bird. Remember to use warm water, light force, and to keep the water below the bird’s face level. You don’t want water getting into its nares.
Sink or Tub Method
Another method is using a bath tub made just for birds or using the kitchen sink. Bird baths are usually sold for smaller birds such as budgies or cockatiels. However, you can use a foot bath tub for larger birds. Using warm water, fill just enough for the bird to bathe. Too deep and you risk drowning the bird. When the bird is done bathing, remove the tub.
The sink method is usually best for larger birds. Blocking off the drain, lay down a towel. This will prevent slipping. (Remember to make sure that the sink is clean first!) You can also allow a slow trickle of water to flow. Only add a small amount of water to the sink, for the same reason as you would the bird bath tub. (Some birds enjoy “bath toys”. Like floating hard plastic balls.
The Washcloth Method
Before some birds enjoy their baths, try using a warm, wet washcloth to bathe them. Gently rubbing the cloth on them, they will get wet and not even know it.
No, this is not a misprint, but another way to bathe your bird. Some birds who are totally resistant to bathing in the normal method can be tricked into bathing. By hanging wet lettuce or other greens in their cages, birds may decide to rub up against them. In the wild many birds will flutter against wet leaves to bathe.
Drying the Bird
Never let the bird go to bed wet. Some birds may enjoy you gently rubbing them dry with a towel. Our cockatoo loves getting soaked to the skin just so we will wrap her up in a towel and cuddle with her, just rub gently to dry. Other birds love the hair dryer. When using a hair dryer make sure that you set it on a cool, not a hot setting. Birds will also dry on their own if given enough time to do so before bed.
When to Bathe
Afternoon or early evening is the best time to bathe a bird. During the summer you may want to mist more often, especially if you don’t have air conditioning. In the winter, both in the early morning and late evening the temperatures are colder. Your bird may become to cold if bathed too early or too late. You can bathe your bird in the winter, but you may want to limit the baths to a few times a week instead of daily. Make sure they dry off in a warm room. In the summer you may want to bathe your bird daily.
Remember that you never add chemicals to your bird’s bath water unless instructed to do so by an avian veterinarian. Bathing too often may also dry out your bird’s skin. If this occurs, but down on the number of baths. Also talk to you avian veterinarian about this.