Bathing keeps your birds healthy and their feathers in good condition. Our birds get their baths every day. During molting, it’s especially important because the water will help soften the hard brittle shafts of newly developing feathers (called pinfeathers) so they can open and fall off the feather.
Almost all canaries and especially finches, enjoy bathing. There is nothing more fun than to watch a group of finches getting ready to bathe. First one will hop in and then out as if to test the water. Back in he hops and makes a little splash, the signal for all of them to hop in and join the fun, fluttering their wings and diving their heads underwater, while everything nearby is getting soaked along with the birds.
We use plastic plant saucers for our finches to bathe in because they are community bathers. Our canaries get large parakeet bird baths that hang on the outside of the cage, since they like to bathe by themselves and can really throw out the water in their enthusiasm.
Good, clean, filtered water with no chlorine is best – whether for drinking or bathing. If the area you live in chlorinates the water, allow it to sit for 24 hours in order to dissipate. Chlorine in the water can harm sensitive tissues and membranes on the inside and cause deterioration of skin and feathers on the outside. Well water is fine if it has been tested as okay, but sometimes what is okay for human consumption, can cause bacteria to grow in the gut of your birds and cause them to become sick or even die. If you are uncertain about your well water, boil it for 15 minutes and allow it to return to room temperature. It can then be stored in a gallon plastic jug that has been previously used to hold water. Never store water in old milk or juice cartons as residual bacteria can quickly build and contaminate the water.
Offer your bird a bath early in the day to allow him to dry out before bedtime. Going to bed with wet feathers is not a good idea. Room temperature water is preferred so that the oils in your bird’s feathers will not be stripped. Once the oils are gone, the feathers no longer protect the bird’s body against temperature changes and he can become chilled easily.
If your bird is healthy and in good condition, but doesn’t seem to want to bathe, a light mist with a spray bottle once in awhile will help keep your bird’s feathers in good condition. Spray up and over your bird’s head so it falls like a soft rain – never point the bottle directly at your bird and spray. Your bird will let you know whether or not he is enjoying his shower by ruffling and fluffing his feathers. Some will even spread their wings so you can get them better. A couple of showers for a bird who is shy about bathing in a tub of water is sometimes all that’s needed to help him understand that water is not only for drinking.
About the author:
Christine hails from East Tennessee and and has many years experience breeding both Finches as well as Canaries.