Showering has to be one of the most beneficial activities for our parrots (and its hilarious to watch), my own kids would literally spend all day playing under the warm water if I would let them. I love watching them flapping and singing away at the top of their lungs as they enjoy their daily shower !
The Benefits of Showering your Parrot
Many species of parrots kept as pets originated from rainforest regions eg South America or in our Eccy’s cases PNG, Solomon Islands etc and their love of water and bathing seems almost innately part of their genetic makeup. Parrots are fastidious about their hygiene and cleanliness, not borne from vainness but out of necessity. If their plumage is not kept in top shape their feathers become tattered and broken and without the required preening they loose their ‘water proof’ coating that either comes from their oil gland or feather dust (eg cockatoos). In the wild this would be devastating for the parrot as it would impact their ability to fly there fore prevent them foraging properly to gain adequate sustenance and when wet, birds are unable to fly so it is instinctual for out kids to preen and bathe regularly.
Showering also helps your kids psychologically, its the same as you or I, you always feel better after a shower, smell a tonne better (well you’d hope so) and we enjoy taking the time to make ourselves look presentable afterwards . . our parrots are just the same 🙂
All of my own babies are bathed a minimum of 3 – 4 times a week from the age of one month onwards. I make bath time lots of fun, something to look forward to so when leaving Parrot Haven they already feel confident in having a shower and actually look forward to it . . . but what if your kids have not been raised this way?
There is nothing worse than being forced into doing something we don’t want to do and our feathered kids are just the same so shower time must be introduced slowly and respectfully, putting yourself in your parrots position, understanding what they are trying to tell you via body language and letting them set the pace.
Some parrots love being misted down with a squirt bottle (sprayed gently and only on the mist setting) and this is a great way to introduce them to the concept of showering. Start by having your parrot in an area they feel comfortable with and for many this is in their cage (but with the door open so they don’t feel trapped). Show them the water bottle so they don’t see it as scary and once they are comfortable with that gently mist next to their cage and gradually move your way in encouraging and making it sound extremely fun the whole time. If your parrot freaks out, stop immediately but if they seem interested then praise them repeatedly and they will soon learn that this ‘spray bottle thing’ is fun and will get to the stage they will puff up and get excited every time you bring it out.
Misting your parrot daily is a great habit to get into and your kids will absolutely love it !
Introducing them to the shower
My own kids actually join me in the shower and all of them absolutely love this with some even asking ‘I wanna come in for a shower’. Your parrot must trust you fully and you will need to have a very good relationship with them but again, it must not be rushed. If your parrot is included in the ‘every day activities’ of the home and is used to being out of their cage (which all parrots should) then its rather simple. Have the water already running then go and get your parrot and quietly bring them into the bathroom, praising them and encouraging them constantly. Don’t take them under the water as this will scare them, just place them up on top of the shower so that they can look down on you and see what this ‘showering’ thing is all about. Sometimes it will take weeks for them to gain their confidence, others will be fluffing up their feathers before you can even get under the water. Again let them set the pace and guide you and never push them out of their comfort zone.
Nobody really likes cold showers, never an appealing thing (unless its stinking hot), I always shower my kids in nice warm water. Too hot will dry your kids skin out (same as it will for us) so keep it nice and warm.
Shower time !
When your parrot feels confident enough to step up and join you in the shower you must again take it slowly. Some people like to use a showering perch others like to have their parrot perch on their arm but most importantly they will need to have a firm grip and feel comfortable that they will not slip at any stage. Gently sprinkle a little water over them by letting it spray off your body and see how they react. Take it slowly and again let them guide you. Many people are surprised as to just how quickly their kids take to showering and more often than not cant actually turn on the tap without having their feathered kids turn up ready for their fun.
Our parrots always like to be up high so don’t place the showering perch down too low. Some of my Eclectus actually love to play on the ground at my feet, splashing and rolling on their sides having an absolute blast . . but again, let them be the guide. Be aware of shower curtains blowing in as this may scare them and if your parrot is not keen on confined spaces try showing with the curtain/screen open – yeah, it will make a heck of a mess but its worth it in the end 🙂
Every parrot is different
Many of my clients will comment that their parrot will bathe differently to those of their siblings. Every one of my kids acts differently in the shower too. Usually when younger 3-6 months, my kids like to just snuggle up to mum and sit there enjoying the water and looking like drowned rats. Its usually not until after the 6 month mark that they really start to play silly buggers in there, wings out, flapping like crazy and chortling so loud you can barely hear yourself think. I also find that Eccy hens tend to be more vigourous shower’ers (based on the 23 mature Eccy’s I have) and the boys more so like to do the drowned rat thing playing and flapping a little less frequently than my hens.
Red for example talks up a storm and takes up the whole shower flapping and carrying on like a crazy thing. Sprout (her boyfriend) on the other hand is more subdued, just happy to let the water run over him watching Red with an expression as if to say ‘show some dignity girl’ 🙂
Stay away from soaps
Soaps and body washes are all well and good for us but should be kept well away when bathing your parrots. This will strip their feathers of their natural oils, very much a no no so avoid that at all costs.
Sunshine is a must
Just like us, our parrots need sunshine ! Showering in the cold winter months can be tricky and its often hard to simply put your kids outside in their outdoor cage to dry off. I live in an area where it can get rather cold during winter so my kids are always blow dried after their shower, they grow up with this as part of their routine and absolutely love it (see http://eclectusparrotbreeders.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=77) but after their blow dry they are then placed in a nice warm area of the house next to a window where they can enjoy the sun.
During summer though we take full advantage of the sunlight. I personally don’t like to place my unweaned kids outside so I find a nice safe window (in a nice quiet position where people aren’t continually walking past outside) and place their cage next to the fly screen so they are getting both direct sunlight and have a shaded area they can move into if the are too hot.
If your bird is unable to be outside then filtered sunlight is a must. Try to allow them to sit next to the screen part of the window as opposed to the glass section, here they will still be getting the benefits required by sunlight:
– Aids in the synthesis of vitamin D3
– Assists in calcium absorption
– Helps with heavy moults aiding in feather development
– Assists digestion
– Plus the many psychological benefits of getting some nice sun
But again, make sure your bird is safe and secure and will not be frightened something moving past and consider the positioning of their cage as they must always have a ‘shaded’ are for them to move into if too hot as well.
So, if your bird is not a ‘shower-a-holic’ its time to introduce them to the joys of a daily bath, I guarantee you will have just as much fun watching them as they do playing in the water 🙂
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