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Help with bathing

Highway11

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Hi all!

We have a 1 year old cockatiel who refuses to bathe. We have had him approximately three weeks now, and he was rescued from a home that we have no knowledge about. Does anyone have any advice regarding starting to get him bathing himself? He seems afraid of water, and will do pretty much anything to NOT wash. We keep multiple bowls out that have varying depths of water (of course nothing too deep for him), but will not budge. He is even afraid of water mists from the spray bottle.

Any help is appreciated!
 

Mizzely

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First question - is he dirty? ;)

Sometimes they are weirdly particular. My Quaker needed a shallow but wide bowl so his tail didn't touch, and it had to be cold water.

My Hahns only wanted to bathe in bowls she had to bend her body in half to fit in.

Vacuuming sometimes helps them get in the mood!

Regardless, as long as there's not a pressing need, and opportunities are being provided, I wouldn't worry too much :) They have evolved powder down feathers (all that dust!) to help keep their feathers clean.
 

T. gillii

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If your tiel is extra dusty, maybe attempt bathing every week, but if it is upsetting, you could try slow desensitization to the spray bottle with positive reinforcement (treats, etc). All in all, not every bird enjoys bathing! Also, three weeks is a super short amount of time, so take it slow and work on building up a good level of trust :)

PS: he's only one! he may not even know that he likes bathing. my green cheek HATES being misted, doesn't use the shallow bathing dishes, but loves the shower and the sink!
 

Highway11

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Thanks Mizzely!

He's not super dirty and preens himself regularly, but I have noticed that he's particularly dirty around his butt. It looks like he's smeared himself in his poo . This is obviously very worrying to me but I'm just not sure how to go about cleaning him without breaking any sort of trust thats been built so far. He's very happy to be on shoulders but is always nippy when a hand goes anywhere near him.
 
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Highway11

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Thank you T. gillii!

I'll try your advice with the spray bottle! A quick question - how should I introduce the shower or sink to him? I feel like just popping him into the shower without ever seeing one may scare him too much. Is just having him near the shower when it's running a good approach?
 

T. gillii

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Thank you T. gillii!

I'll try your advice with the spray bottle! A quick question - how should I introduce the shower or sink to him? I feel like just popping him into the shower without ever seeing one may scare him too much. Is just having him near the shower when it's running a good approach?
I wouldn't recommend the shower or sink for atleast a month or so, when he is comfortable being held and feels safe with you. There are shower perches you can buy or you can have your bird on the window sill, on the shower hose, etc. For the sink, I would put a plug in and set your bird in a shallow amount of warm water or with warm water flowing.

However, his vent should **not** be dirty and I would honestly recommend a visit with an avian vet
 

Emma&pico

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My lovebirds loved bathing in a bowl but I had to wiggle my fingers in it splashing or they liked draining board with tap running on it

my gcc pip will bath anywhere once a day either in his water bowl a bowl on floor which I normally get him when he goes back in cage to his bowl as he normally does it when I’ve just cleaned cage haha
Remi as to bath in my hands in sink with tap running into my hands remi once a week bath or whenever he fancies normally tells me when I am filling water bowls up will just crawl down my arm and jump in

what I’ve found is that sound of water either splashing running or spraying works to get their attention

@Xoetix ducky wouldn’t bath maybe she can give you some tips how she got him use to it
 

Xoetix

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I feel your pain I have two dusty-butt tiels and they both hate, HATE bathing. Is he your only bird?

I’ve had luck with two things:
1) A bowl of chopped lettuce and water (probably 80/20 water/lettuce ratio). For some reason, this is prime bath time for my female cockatiel, Kimchi. No idea why, but it works for her.

2) My male, Tteok, is stubborn as heck when it comes to water. All I’ve been able to do is 3 or 4 times a week spray a misting (from a squirt bottle) over his head so it rains down on him, and maaaaaaaybe one out of ten times he’ll bathe. I just let him decide when he’s good for it.
 

Highway11

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I wouldn't recommend the shower or sink for atleast a month or so, when he is comfortable being held and feels safe with you. There are shower perches you can buy or you can have your bird on the window sill, on the shower hose, etc. For the sink, I would put a plug in and set your bird in a shallow amount of warm water or with warm water flowing.

However, his vent should **not** be dirty and I would honestly recommend a visit with an avian vet
Thanks for the advice! I'll see try some of the other options and if all else fails I will definitely take him to our bird vet :)
 

Highway11

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My lovebirds loved bathing in a bowl but I had to wiggle my fingers in it splashing or they liked draining board with tap running on it

my gcc pip will bath anywhere once a day either in his water bowl a bowl on floor which I normally get him when he goes back in cage to his bowl as he normally does it when I’ve just cleaned cage haha
Remi as to bath in my hands in sink with tap running into my hands remi once a week bath or whenever he fancies normally tells me when I am filling water bowls up will just crawl down my arm and jump in

what I’ve found is that sound of water either splashing running or spraying works to get their attention

@Xoetix ducky wouldn’t bath maybe she can give you some tips how she got him use to it
Thank you!!! I will try the sound of water trick for him. Our pumpkin isn't interested in water mists from the spray bottle so hopefully something like that works :p
 

Emma&pico

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Thank you!!! I will try the sound of water trick for him. Our pumpkin isn't interested in water mists from the spray bottle so hopefully something like that works :p
Hopefully fingers crossed
 

Highway11

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I feel your pain I have two dusty-butt tiels and they both hate, HATE bathing. Is he your only bird?

I’ve had luck with two things:
1) A bowl of chopped lettuce and water (probably 80/20 water/lettuce ratio). For some reason, this is prime bath time for my female cockatiel, Kimchi. No idea why, but it works for her.

2) My male, Tteok, is stubborn as heck when it comes to water. All I’ve been able to do is 3 or 4 times a week spray a misting (from a squirt bottle) over his head so it rains down on him, and maaaaaaaybe one out of ten times he’ll bathe. I just let him decide when he’s good for it.
Hey xoetix thanks for the great advice!

We have a younger IRN who doesn't mind jumping into any bowl of water around him when he's dirty :laugh:

I like the lettuce idea! Will definitely give that a shot.
 

Emma&pico

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Oh and don’t forget to share bath/wet bird pictures we love wet bird pics
 

Zilga

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Mine loves baths but is picky - I got one of those continuous spray misters and she HATED it, but she'll sit in a shallow metal plate under the kitchen sink faucet (set to spray, barely on) for ages, and she likes to get into the shower with me, which I do not love. Three weeks isn't long, so it may just take time - mine didn't have an interest in bathing until she was comfortable going all around the house and seeing everything. Her first bath was in a small bathroom sink, I think because it was pretty shallow and less intimidating.

Obligatory wet chicken:

PXL_20240407_175922864.jpg
 

LiveLolBrd

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Here, try watching this-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYG74yhZU2g
I had Princeton for 6 months and he wouldn't take a bath no matter what I tried.
One day I gave him a new water dish and I came back in the room and there he is, taking a bath! And I thought he didn't KNOW how to bathe!
 

Shezbug

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I would honestly be quite surprised if any bird was comfortable enough to take a wash at a new home they had only been in for 3 weeks. Give your little one some time to settle in then try offering bathing opportunities in as many varying ways as you can think of- many birds like to bathe in wet leaves/foliage, some like the misting bottles, some like a bowl, some like to only bathe when it is raining or when the vac is running- you will take some time to find what your little one prefers.
 

Shannan

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My Walter hated baths as well. Two things I would do is to steam up the bathroom and then bring him in. The moisture in the air was enough to get him preening himself and didn't involve direct water. (We would play in the bathroom until it cooled down. The other thing I would do is wet my hands and then give him skritches (yours may not yet trust you enough for that but maybe in time). And sometimes he would allow me to gently dribble a little water over him from my wet hands. Walter was also a dusty bird (African gray) and his feathers always looked nice so some birds just don't need baths as often. The conure on the other hand bathes almost daily.
 
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