Bathing is an important part of a parrot’s weekly routine. The water loosens any dirt in the feathers and also encourages the bird to preen. It’s also something that most parrots find highly enjoyable.
A permanent bath in your cage is a good idea but will need cleaning daily, as the parrots will soon mess it up, and will also use it as a drinking trough.
You can arouse your parrot’s interest in the idea of getting wet by spraying him from a water mister bottle (from above, ideally, to simulate rain). Most birds will welcome the soaking, spreading their wings, putting their head down and holding their wings out a little, and fluffing up and shaking their feathers.
As long as the weather (or room temperature) is warm, you can allow your parrot a mister shower or birdbath at least once a week – more, if he seems to like it a lot. Getting completely soaked is fine – the parrot will shake the water off. In hot weather this is a great way for the birds to cool down.
In colder weather, bathing can be kept to a minimum; and ideally you need a safe heater in the cage (e.g. a bird lamp) to speed up the drying process.
If the bird is outside, bathing should be restricted to mornings in the winter, to prevent the parrot from going to bed wet and possibly catching a chill.
Larger parrots can be bathed in your own shower. You can buy suction perches to attach to shower or bathroom walls for this purpose. Some birds can get quite attached to taps, and will happily bathe under them. The water must never be hot, and if your bird doesn’t like the procedure, abandon it.
Some birds don’t take to the idea of showers and soakings at all. These will need to feel their own way into the world of personal parrot hygiene. Provide water in a custom-made parrot bath or bowl, and leave them to it. Eventually, the itchy skin and dry feathers will encourage these reluctant birds to take a dip.
Don’t force a reluctant bird to bathe. This will only make them even more frightened. Encourage the relationship with water by putting kale, spinach or other greens in the bath/bowl and let him play around and eat.
You can use a towel to partly dry a wet bird if the parrot seems happy with this arrangement. Never use a hair-dryer, though, unless you know for an absolute fact that there is no non-stick coating in the device – fumes from such things can be fatal for birds.
Don’t use soap in the water, unless you need to wash something oily from the parrot’s feathers. Even then you should only use a mild detergent such as glycerine soap.
After getting wet, the parrot’s muscles begin to move rapidly, making it look as if the bird is shivering. This is normal and is simply the bird’s way of warming up after a cool bath.
Bath Water Temperature
Parrots should always be given cool or lukewarm water in their baths or showers. Don’t use water that has been refrigerated, and if your tap water is very cold, let it stand for 20 minutes or so before offering it as a bath. At the other end of the acceptable heat scale, room temperature is good. The bathwater must never be hot, though. If you stick with a ‘cool to tepid’ scale, you’ll be fine.
If your birds live outside with a permanent water feature, they will work out for themselves when to take a dip. On really cold days you can add some hot water to bring the temperature up a little.