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392 Kings Highway
Woolwich Township
New Jersey 08085
856.467.0050 Main
856.467.8668 Veterinarians

Spotlight Birds: Bathing Birds

Bathing Birds

Does my bird need a bath?bathing_birds-1

Bathing is very important to the proper preening or maintenance of feathers. All birds do it and most really enjoy the experience. In the wild, a bird may bathe during a rain shower, may find a puddle, lake or stream to splash in or may nuzzle playfully in wet grasses and vegetation. Bathing encourages healthy preening or grooming of the feathers. It keeps feathers free of dirt and will help preserve their wonderful, natural luster. Central heating and air conditioning tend to create a dry environment. Many of our pet birds come from moist rainforest environments so bathing or dampening your bird gently with a misting bottle is very natural.

Who can help me?

  • You should inquire with your veterinarian first to see if they handle exotics. If they do, it is recommended you make an appointment with them as they will have thorough knowledge of you as well as the patient.
  • Our Department of Avian & Exotic Medicine is available to see your pet by appointment, Dr. Magazu and Dr. Newkirk would be glad to help!

How often should my bird be bathed?

Birds should be offered a bath regularly. The frequency will depend on the bird. Many birds enjoy bathing every day, while others only bathe occasionally. Start by offering a bath to your bird once or twice weekly. You will quickly learn the bird’s preferences. We have to respect there will be times the bird does NOT feel like a bath. Your bird may have preferences such as the time of day it likes to bathe.

How should I bathe my bird?bathing_birds-2

The bird will actually do most of the work. You will simply supply the lukewarm water. Some birds enjoy using a dish of water. There are special bathing chambers that attach to the side of a small bird’s cage and keep water from splashing about the room. A shallow sink of water is often convenient and many birds will frolic under a gentle trickle of water from the tap while dipping their head and fluttering their wings in the water. You can use a clean spray bottle such as that used to mist plants to simulate rain. Your bird may dance about excitedly with its wings in the air, tail fanned out and turning frequently to catch as much of this light rain as possible. Often you will tire of spraying before the bird tires of being sprayed. Your pet may enjoy showering with you, being bathed in the water that splashes off you. Care should be taken as direct water pressure in the shower may frighten or even hurt the bird. Some smaller birds such as finches and canaries will wet themselves on the moisture dripping from freshly washed vegetation such as carrot tops or other greens.

Commercial bathing solutions may not offer any specific benefits over regular, natural, fresh water. You can discuss these products with your veterinarian. Do not use soap on your bird.Consult your veterinarian for specific directions if you should need to remove something specific off your bird’s feathers.

When should I bathe my bird?

Bathing in the morning may provide more opportunity to dry. A sunny, warm room, free of drafts provides a comfortable setting to dry out and preen while ensuring the bird does not get a chill and become sick. The bird should be completely dry before going to bed since most homes are cooler at night. Some birds seem to enjoy a gentle warm hair dryer but great care must be taken not to overheat the bird or use it forcibly against its wishes.

Done properly, bathing can be as much fun for you as it is for your bird.

Rick Axelson, DVM
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