In many cases Parrots love to bathe….as my Yellow Naped Amazon Delbert is happy to demonstrate.
Jeez! Even my dog loves a bath. Honestly he would jump in the shower with me everyday if he could. But that is another story. Back to Parrots.
We are often told how important it is for a Parrot to bathe. And yes I do agree. Many times a bird that has not bathed in awhile will have feathers that look tattered and unkempt. Some individuals may even engage in feather destructive behaviour when bathing is lacking from their lives.
And of course as Delbert has demonstrated, for some birds…it is just plain fun! Which is reason enough to want to make sure your Parrot is getting regular bathing.
Unfortunately some birds do not respond with such enthusiasm to a bath. This can be quite the dilemma. Do you bathe your Parrot against his wishes? Or do you never give him a bath? Or do you do my favourite….train it! Yes that is right. You can actually train a Parrot to take a bath.
Rather than force a bath upon your bird and possibly reduce his trust in you, you can break it down into baby steps and train it.
Tex Hankey wrote a great story about this very process with one of her Cockatoos. It is in Good Bird Magazine Volume 3 Issue 4. I recently saw Tex at a conference and she said her Parrot has continued to progress and actually now enjoys taking a bath. Prior to training he showed a fear response to the spray bottle and the mist it produced.
Other ways to introduce bathing to your Parrot include hanging wet lettuce leaves near a perch. This can be enriching and get your bird accustomed to water on his feathers on his own terms.
Other ideas are to present water in different ways. You may try a flat shallow pan, a fine mist, big droplets, or if you have an outdoor aviary, you may try a combination. For many years I presented free flight bird shows at Disney World.
When Parrots were done with shows, they often had the chance to hang out in the “bath cage.” This 8 x 8 enclosure had a mister, a sprinkler and a shallow bath pan available for birds wanting a bath. But it also had dry areas so that birds could avoid the water if they chose to.
If you are looking to add a Parrot to your home, you can avoid this problem by finding a breeder who exposes his or her baby Parrots to misting and bathing while the bird is still young.
This practice goes a long way in helping create a Parrot who eagerly anticipates a bath…just like Delbert. He likes his bath so much I sometimes find it hard to coax him to leave the bath perch. I actually have to hide the spray bottle to send the message that bath time is over. Now that is a Parrot who loves a bath.
Barbara Heidenreich has been a professional animal trainer since 1990. Her company Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training (www.BarbarasFFAT.com) provide animal training DVDs, books, webinars and workshops. She has been a featured speaker in over twenty countries and has been published in nine languages. Barbara works with the companion animal community and also consults on animal training in zoos.