Spraying cockatiels with water is one of the ways in which you can help your pet bird go through its cleansing routine. But do all cockatiels like to be sprayed with water? After going through the experiences of numerous people who have a pet cockatiel at home, this is what I found.
Most cockatiels enjoy being sprayed with water (gentle misting, not powerful jets of water). But while some cockatiels can’t get enough of the water mist, some will barely let you get them wet. So, if your pet shies away from the spray, don’t worry and don’t force it.
It is important that your cockatiel gets enough opportunities to clean itself with water. Apart from maintaining hygiene, water also aids in keeping the plumage healthy and shining. Spraying is one of the ways to let your pet clean itself as it enjoys mists of water falling on itself.
However, there are other ways too in which you can help it get the required moisture on its body. Let us find out all about cockatiel spraying and how you can facilitate it.
Cockatiels and spraying
Cockatiels in the wild look for puddles or ponds to take a bath. And when it rains, they spread their wings and enjoy the showers on their bodies. Or they play in wet vegetation to collect moisture and spread it on their wings. Birds in captivity rely on us to provide them with water for cleaning.
If your cockatiel loves being sprayed, look for signs when it wants to be sprayed. The sound of rain or the sound of water as you turn on the faucet in the sink can trigger the instinct to bathe in birds.
So, if you find that your pet gets excited every time it hears the sound of running water, you might want to oblige and spray it a little.
If it is tame, you can let it perch on your finger while you spray it and enjoy talking to it.
But what if the cockatiel does not like being sprayed?
As mentioned earlier, some cockatiels might not be comfortable with the idea of spraying or bathing right away. If yours is one of them, have patience. Getting sprayed for the first time can be frightening for some birds.
Spray it with some water and if it tries to back off or turn away, stop spraying.
Repeat again after some time. Encourage your pet to get sprayed by talking to it while you use the spray bottle. You could even spray yourself with water in front of your pet to help it get comfortable with the idea of spraying.
If it is still reluctant, you can offer it treats after every 2-3 spritzes to help it associate spraying with something good. If it lets you spray without turning away, encourage it by praising or offering treats. There are very good chances that it will soon start to enjoy being sprayed.
Here are some other ways you can encourage your cockatiel to get wet.
- Place some water in a shallow water dish large enough for them to sit in and bathe.
- Invest in a shower perch and take them for a shower in your bathroom. Remember to keep the stream gentle.
- Hang some wet parsley or lettuce in the cage. Cockatiels can play with it and use the moisture in the leaves to spread on their feathers.
How to spray your cockatiel?
Spraying your pet bird correctly is very important to ensure that its experience is pleasant. Here are some tips to help you spray the right way.
Use a spray bottle
You can use a spray bottle available in pet stores that produces water mists. You can even use bottles used for misting plants since these create very gentle mists that even smaller birds can withstand.
Make sure the water temperature is right
Don’t use water that is too hot or too cold. Hot water can cause scalding while cold water can lead to the bird catching a chill. Instead, use warm water and check the temperature by spraying some water on your hand first.
Ideally, the temperature of the water should be lukewarm or at room temperature.
Avoid soap or other cleansers
Avoid harsh cleansers. Soaps can strip your bird of essential oils and can dry out its delicate skin and plumage. Using clean, fresh water should be enough. If the bird gets too dirty and you are not able to get a particular substance or stain off with just plain water, take the help of a vet.
Some bird-friendly cleansers are available in pet shops. These cleansers contain ingredients that soften and moisturize the plumage and skin. However, it is best to consult an avian vet before you try something new.
Keep the spraying gentle
Don’t use sprayers that have high pressure. Spray bottles that create a gentle mist are ideal. Direct the spray at a point above the cockatiel so that the mist falls down like gentle rain on them.
Most cockatiels love a mist that falls on their bodies. Powerful jets of water can be too strong for the delicate birds and might scare them. Also, never spray directly on the bird’s face.
Spray earlier during the day
It is important to make sure that your cockatiel does not catch a chill when wet. Hence, it is best to avoid spraying it in the evening or at night. Ideally, spray it in the morning so that it has enough time during the day to dry naturally. Avoid spraying frequently during cold weather.
Preparation before spraying
Close the doors and windows to prevent any cold draft when the bird is still wet. Also, if you have an air conditioner or fan running in the room, it is advisable to switch it off or at least make sure the bird is not in the line of a direct cold draft.
Help a thoroughly wet bird dry itself
When the bird’s feathers are wet, it will start preening. Let it preen and dry itself naturally. Ideally, it’s best to let the bird air-dry itself. But if it is soaking wet, you can help it dry. Gently wrap it in a soft towel and pat it in the direction of its feathers to get rid of excess water.
Once done, allow it to preen. Also, it might help to keep the cage in a warm place such as in sunlight to speed up drying.
Avoid blow dryers
Although it might seem convenient, don’t use a blow dryer to dry the feathers. It could be extremely drying for the bird’s skin or could even cause burns. Also, toxic fumes from an electric dryer can harm your pet.
Why is spraying required?
If you think spraying is only to let your pet have some fun, think again. Spraying offers other benefits, too. Below are some of the reasons why your cockatiel needs spraying or any other form of rinsing.
- Cockatiels have feathers that have a keratin coating and need moisture to keep them soft and shiny.
- The coating also disintegrates and forms a powdery residue known as ‘feather dust’. Cockatiels produce a huge amount of feather dust. This dust, if not washed away, dulls the color of the feathers and can also be inhaled by the birds. Spraying or bathing can help to get rid of this dust. (Especially if your Cockatiel is sneezing all the time, you might want to start spraying – read more on that here)
- The feathers can also gather environmental dust, dander, excess oils, or lose feathers which can be washed off by spraying.
- In temperature-controlled environments, the air could have very less water vapor causing the birds’ skin to become dry. A little spraying can moisten the skin.
- Spraying during hot weathers can be refreshing for your feathered companions.
- During the molting period, a little water on the feathers can help new feathers to come through easily. Also, it reduces the itch.
- Spraying promotes grooming and keeps the birds free from any germs.
- Cockatiels who are nesting also need more moisture which spraying can provide. Is your Cockatiel sitting at the bottom of the cage? Your bird might be nesting – read our article on that here!
When cockatiels wet their feathers regularly and preen, feathers look bright. Bathing is a part of the cockatiel’s grooming routine and spraying is a very convenient way to facilitate it.
How often should I spray my cockatiel? It is recommended that you spray your cockatiel or provide an alternate method for cleaning it about once or twice every week. However, if your bird enjoys it immensely, then you can indulge it by spraying it a little every day!
Is my cockatiel shivering after a bath? If you see your bird’s chest muscles moving when it is wet, it is not necessarily due to cold. The cockatiel is probably contracting and expanding its muscles to increase its body heat. The body heat helps it dry faster.
Do cockatiels talk? Cockatiels are capable of vocalizing and mimicking sounds and whistling. The more you talk to your pet, the more it can be encouraged to talk. Do note that some birds just don’t talk no matter how much you try even though there’s nothing wrong with them.