Birds in captivity need healthy foods,
uvb lighting & natural sunlight,
cage enrichment (toys), human
interaction, regular grooming and
yes, SHOWERS, just like
they get in nature!
Pikes Peak Parrot Rescue
is located in a dry climate
and moisture is essential for
your feathered loved ones.
There are two varieties of parrots - Oil-Based & Dander-Based (also known as "powder-based"). African-Greys, Cockatoos & Cockatiels are the most common "Dander-Based" birds and yes, humans have allergic reactions to these species. Most other parrot species are oil-based and include Conures, Eclectus, Amazons & Macaws (among many others). Parrots have a preening gland near the base of the tail where they pull either powder or oil from to preen their feathers. The result of this is a waterproofing of their feathers that aids in flight and also has thermal benefits.
Pikes Peak Parrot Rescue periodically receives birds that no longer preen - Capri (pictured) was one such bird. Usually, this is a result of the environment they were living in. Nicotine is the most common cause of this and it appears the birds are aware that nicotine is a poison to their respiratory system as they will simply stop preening. 3PR has had to use Dawn dish soap to assist in breaking down the nicotine oils deep in the bird's down feathers. Once we are able to remove the nicotine oils, these amazing creatures begin to preen again, YAY!
Let's get specific:
How often should I shower my bird?
Answer: 5-7 days a week
How do I shower my bird?
Answer: There are MANY ways this can be done. A spray bottle is one way of showering your bird. However, a spray bottle typically does not put out enough water to soak your bird to its skin. Using your sink or shower is probably the BEST way to shower your bird, but there are some cautions to be aware of. You do not want to drown your bird. A solid stream of water directed toward a bird's nares (nostrils) can be dangerous. Find the lightest "mist" type setting in your shower head and with a luke-warm temperature, mist this over your bird (preferably on a shower perch) for 5-20 minutes - set a timer on your phone so that you do not forget. We will oftentimes take the shower head down and spray our bird's chest and under the wings, as well.
When do I shower my bird?
Answer: The safest time to shower your bird is in the morning or afternoon or when your home is the warmest. It does rain in the forest when temperatures dip to around 50 degrees, however, it takes more energy (shivering) for your bird to stay warm while he/she dries.
What if I do not shower my bird?
Answer: PLUCKING is one potential side effect of a bird that is not showered. Birds need to be showered long enough for the oil or powder on their outer feathers to be washed away. You will know this has been accomplished once the water no longer "beads" up like a freshly waxed car. The primary flight feathers and tail feathers have a much more dense adhesion to each other and will always "bead" up, but the rest of the feathers will not. Showering is something that occurs often in the wild and is a gift we can give our birds to replicate nature.
What if I am scared to shower my bird?
Answer: You are not alone! Many of us were there before we started. Step 1 - Take your bird into the shower WITH you. Place the bird on a perch or on the shower rod/glass wall in the shower while you take a shower. Do not spray the bird at all for the first week or two, but let the bird begin to trust you and see that the shower is a safe place. The humid air that the bird breaths in is very good for his/her respiratory system. Step 2 - Step the bird up onto your finger and facing the bird away from the water coming out of your shower head, slowly back the bird into the stream of water. Once your bird experiences this, he/she will begin to really enjoy this happening every day. Step - 3 Place the bird on a perch in the direct spray of the water and close the curtain/door. Allow the bird to enjoy the water and humid air for longer periods of time.
What if my bird throws up after a shower?
Answer: Many birds that have not been showered before will tend to drink way too much water in their first few showers and this causes them to throw up the excess water in their crop. Parrots are smart, though! In short order, your bird will figure this out and no longer drink so much, causing it to throw up water after a shower. Do not be concerned about watery poop after a shower either, this is normal and happens in the wild as well.
What if I cannot afford the water to do this regularly?
Answer: This is a real issue in Colorado where water is at a premium. Let's get something straight though! Birds need water and to deprive them of water is not kind. The cost of water is something to be considered when adding 1 or more parrots into your life. Birds need water and a lot of it.
The benefits of showering your bird are probably more than any human is even aware of. We know that moist skin is less painful for new feathers to penetrate. We know that preening after a shower keeps your bird's mind busy, it gives them a job to do. We know that our bird's colors are more vibrant after regular showering. We know that bird's feet do not flake when showered regularly. We know that trust is built when we shower our bird regularly. These reasons alone are enough to justify showering your bird.
Before any plan is implemented, you have to determine if this is something you can do on your own. If not, COME SEE US at Pikes Peak Parrot Rescue and bring your bird along. We will be happy to show you how easy it is to shower your bird and you will build confidence by observing how it is done. The best part - THIS IS FREE! We do not charge for advice as we want to see your bird be its happiest and healthiest self!