Thursday, January 6, 2011

Training a Parrot to Bathe

Blu Lu the Blue Throated Macaw from the Bird Endowment took her first bath at my house today! I had just finished eating lunch and was running the water to wash my dishes when guess who launched herself to the sink. In her first few weeks with me I did make a few attempts to spray her, offer a pan of water, etc. However she did not show any interest. To me when a parrot wants to bathe I see some very specific body language, such as some flicking of the head side to side, dunking their head in the water, the wings stretching out, maybe some eye pinning and small vocalizations and most importantly an effort to interact with the water.

Blu Lu had not shown this body language in my earlier attempts. In fact she decidedly moved away from the water. Maybe people advise you must bathe a parrot no matter what. I personally can’t force a bath on a parrot who does not want one. I also think doing so makes it less likely a parrot will voluntarily participate in a bath in the future. Therefore I wait for moment just like the one that happened today. And while I have a bird actively engaging in the water I start to introduce some of props that might be involved with bathing such as a spray bottle.

I gently sprayed Blu Lu from quite a distance, and only a little at a time. This helps introduce the spray bottle at her pace and keeps it paired with the fun she is already having under the water stream. I also used my fingertips to trickle a little water over her back. I tried introducing a pan of water too. The best part is that anytime she wanted she could fly away. This piece of empowerment kept her coming back for more. Remember giving your parrot the choice to not participate is a big part of building trust and confidence. And it is an important part of a positive reinforcement approach to training your parrot.

I anticipate as more of these type of bathing experiences happen Blu Lu will be more inclined to bathe more frequently and bath time will continue to be viewed as fun time. Needless to say after so much fun, a nap was order. Her photo shows her resting on one of the parrot perches she has been trained to fly to.
Barbara Heidenreich
Copyright Good Bird Inc 2010

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the pic ... love your explanation ... love your waiting for her rather than ambushing her with the spray bottle :))) gail