Helping Your Bird Keep Clean
An important aspect of avian health is keeping your bird's feathers and skin healthy. Birds need water and humidity to keep their feathers looking good and to prevent their skin from getting too dry. Those that don't get enough baths are more likely to chew or pluck their feathers. A good habit to form is bathing your bird at least once a week. Misting in between baths adds humidity and provides additional conditioning. Misting your bird is also a good way to introduce bathing to birds ... especially those that might balk when it comes time to get their bath. And those birds that love bathing will enjoy the extra moisture from regular misting.
How Do I Bathe My Bird?
- Spritz your bird with water in a spray bottle (setting the nozzle to a misting spray). You can add very warm water to the spray bottle and it will drop to a comfortable temperature when it reaches the bird. Caution: Always test the water to be sure it will be comfortable for your bird. If you are bathing your bird outside in hot weather then use cool water.
- Bathe your bird indoors if the weather outside is cold.
- Do not spray directly at bird's face or eyes. To wet the head spray above the bird and let the water fall on him.
- Cockatoos, Cockatiels and African Greys have powder-down feathers and should only be bathed with water. Don't use birdbath sprays on these species. However, for those birds with powder-down that are very dirty you can use a Cockatoo or Parrot Shampoo on the dirty areas. Whenever using a shampoo product be sure to thoroughly rinse the bird, making sure all the shampoo is gone.
- Bathe our bird early enough in the day so it is thoroughly dry before nightfall. It needs to be completely dry before it is time to sleep.
- You can take your bird into the shower with you. First, take the time to acclimate the bird to the room and the noise and spray from the shower. When your bird is calm and not fearful or stressed and ready to go into the water, hold it at the edge of the spray and only for a few seconds. Work up to longer periods of time under the water. Most birds learn to love a shower and readily try to soak themselves. There are shower perches available that can be installed on the shower wall for the comfort of your bird.
- The kitchen sink or bathtub can be filled with an 1" or so of water (depending on the size of the bird) and let your bird splash around in it. Hold his tail under running water if it needs extra cleaning. Use a small container to pour water over your bird being careful of his eyes and ears.
- After he is finished bathing drape a bath towel over your arm and let him step onto it. Then drape the towel around him to soak up the extra water. This will help him dry faster. If you are bathing him outside and it is a warm day allow him to sit in the sun to dry. Be cautious if the weather is hot and set him where he has access to shade so he can get out of the direct sun, if needed.
- If you've bathed him inside and the room air temperature is too cool after his bath you can dry him with a blow dryer. Again, let him get comfortable by showing him the dryer, turn it on, and point it away from him so he can get used to the noise. Once he is accepting of the dryer point it toward him ... once he feels the warm air he'll enjoy it. Caution: Set the blower to warm and hold it about 12-15 inches away from your bird. Keep one hand between the blow dryer and your bird to monitor the temperature of the warm air.
- When bathing your bird or blowing him dry talk to him in a reassuring voice and make it fun. Then next bath time he'll be looking forward to it. There isn't anything more fun that watching a bird who loves his bath.
What Is the Best Way to Mist a Bird?
Frequent misting is a good way to keep a bird's feathers in great condition and offer them a higher degree of humidity, if necessary. Often the household spray bottle doesn't provide a very fine spray. A finer spray will often be accepted better and may be the best choice for birds that are fearful. There are commercial misters available designed specifically to use with birds. I find these products ideal and use them exclusively for misting year-round. As in bathing, take appropriate steps to protect your bird from cold temperatures when misting and be sure they are dry before its time for them to sleep at night.