do birds like being sprayed with water

Q: My neighbor gave me a 4 year old cockatiel a couple of weeks ago. She couldn’t keep him and knew that I have a cockatiel that I adore. Before I took Luca home with me, I asked a lot of questions about his favorite foods and toys and tried to get as much information about him as I could. I found out that he has never had a bath because he is afraid of water. I didn’t believe her when she told me this because my bird loves his baths, but when I tried to bathe Luca, he seemed terrified. I guess she was right. What should I do? He really needs a bath.

A: It makes me cringe to think how itchy Luca must be from years of built up dirt and dander on his skin and feathers. Some birds have been known to pluck out their feathers under conditions like these. You are right – this bird needs a bath!

It is not normal for a bird to avoid water. Aside from it being a life-giving substance that all living creatures covet, bathing is a much anticipated activity for a bird and it is a social event among flock members.

Given that bathing is as natural to a bird as preening, a bird would not be born with an aversion to water – it is a large part of the parrot environment. The very fact that Luca is alive will tell you that he is drinking water daily and, therefore, does not fear it.

It is far more likely that your new cockatiel has, over the years, developed a fear of the combination of water and humans – perhaps because his former owner was forceful and inconsiderate in introducing the process of bathing. He may like humans just fine, and he may like water as he should, but put the two together, and bad things might happen from his point of view.

What I would recommend to you is that you take the human element out of Luca’s bathing experiences. Give Luca the means to bath without being any part of it yourself.

Fill a small, shallow dish of water and place it in the bottom of his cage. Don’t feel inclined to show him what it is for. Just place there and walk away and allow him do with it what he wants. He will use it for bathing on his own, eventually, when he feels ready.

Once Luca has become comfortable in your company, you can place a larger shallow dish of water on the kitchen counter a distance away from you while he is out of his cage. He probably won’t use it for a while (hopefully he will be using the small dish in his cage) – its purpose is more to show him that you will not do wrong by him, or exert force, when water is around.

You might try adding some pony beads to the bowl or perhaps some spinach leaves or even ice cubes just to make it interesting and alluring. When he finally does make it over to the bowl, be sure to keep away and let him do what he will without interference.

These steps may seem small and inconsequential to you but they leave a big impact on a bird that is struggling with trust. Repeated good experiences will eventually overshadow the bad experiences of the past and he will come to associate only good things with you when water is in the environment.

This worked very well for my water-hating quaker when I first got her. It took some time, but the results were worth the wait. The other day she jumped into the stream of running water in the kitchen sink while I was washing tomatoes. She decided it was bath-time.

Information & advice on parrots and birds

Recently, I was asked a question that I get asked a lot: how often should I spray my parrot, and should I use water or something else?

Although I wouldn’t suggest this at all, it appears that parrot owners are aware of its benefits on the internet. Following his travels as an avian consultant around the globe, he visited many of the largest collections of perfectly healthy parrots, many of which never sprayed their birds at all. Additionally, some parrots—particularly frightened species like African Greys—become extremely afraid if they suddenly get sprayed. Feathers may become damaged if African Greys and certain Cockatoo species are abruptly startled by water spray. We frequently saw African Greys and other parrots at Bird World, and the reason for their feather issues was that they were afraid of someone spraying them two or three times a week, even though they had heard that it was beneficial for their bird.

There’s no reason to stop spraying your parrot if it seems to be enjoying and loving it right now. However, your parrots don’t need to be sprayed with water, so don’t start doing it all of a sudden and frightening them. Instead of improving their plumage—which may have been your goal—you risk stressing them out to the point where they begin to lose some of their feathers.

Place a large bowl of water in the parrot’s cage if you think it would enjoy a bath. If the bird needs to preen or soak, it’s likely that it will make a huge mess that it will love. That won’t hurt them at all, if you can handle that.

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After Luca feels at ease with you, you can leave a bigger shallow dish of water on the kitchen counter, far from you, while he isn’t in his cage. Hopefully, he will be using the little dish in his cage instead of this one for a while. Its main function is to reassure him that you won’t mistreat him or use force when there is water nearby.

These actions might not seem like much to you, but they have a significant effect on a bird that struggles with trust. If you have consistent positive experiences, they will eventually eclipse any negative ones from the past, and he will only think positively of you in the presence of water.

A: The thought of how itchy Luca must be from years of accumulated dust and dander on his skin and feathers makes me cringe. In situations such as these, certain birds have been known to pluck out their feathers. You are right – this bird needs a bath!.

Put some water in a little shallow dish and set it in the bottom of his cage. Don’t feel inclined to show him what it is for. Simply leave it there, go, and let him do with it as he pleases. Eventually, when he’s ready, he’ll use it to take independent baths.

Oftentimes, spray bottles are to blame for bathing issues with birds. Some birds are afraid of them because their owners have sprayed them furiously as a form of discipline. It’s easy to see why that bird would associate bathing with punishment and would not view a spray bottle favorably.


Is it okay to spray water on birds?

But, your parrots don’t need to be sprayed with water, so don’t start suddenly doing it and scaring them, because rather than making their plumage better (which is maybe what you were hoping to do), you can stress them so much that they start losing some of their feathers.

Do birds like water mist?

Attaching a dripper or mister to your bird bath provides a source of moving water which backyard birds find irresistible! Many birds such as chickadees, finches and titmice will land on the dripper spout and creep down to the end and lean over to take a drink!

Do birds like getting wet?

Many birds like to frolic under a gentle trickle of water from the tap while dipping their head and fluttering their wings in the water. Your bird may enjoy showering with you, sitting on a special perch that sticks to the tile with suction cups at the back of the shower.

How do you know if your bird likes being sprayed?

Often people ask me “how do I know if my bird likes baths or being sprayed?” If you spray your bird and they fluff up their feathers and start putting their wings out like this they’re enjoying it!