How To Get Your Macaw To Take A Shower (Or What Worked For Me)

Macaws are water loving creatures.  Showering them is beneficial for their health and bonding with them.  It keeps their skin moist, feathers clean, and can help if they develop respiratory problems because they can be placed in a room with hot water producing steam without being fearful.  I talk to a lot of bird owners that seem to have problems getting their birds to take a shower with them and resort to spraying them or bathing them in the sink.  If this works for you then it's great but it removes the bonding and a large part of the play aspect. We realized how much Merlin loved water when he would flip out when we did dishes and we quickly realized that he wanted to get under the running water.

Here is what worked for me with both of my birds, your results may vary.  I purchased a shower perch (Avalon sells them) and installed it around shoulder height.  I then would put the bird on the perch while I showered and made absolutely no attempt for the first week to engage the bird in any fashion.  After the first week I would take to talking to the bird and made a point to exagerate how much fun the shower was.  I would step close to the bird and offer it my arm or shoulder.  When the bird finally stepped onto me I would extend my other arm out and into the water.  Within a week or so the bird would begin running across my arms into the water.  By the end of a month they would dive on me from the perch and play ecstatically in the water.  Many times we have to take them out of the shower long before they are done so that we can get one ourselves.

Now they know the word shower and will fly to me when I say it.  The key to the whole process is patience, the time it takes will be different for everyone and, like everything with birds, patience and positive reinforcement is the key.  I truly believe that a bird that showers with you is a more closely bonded bird.

In the meantime don't forgo letting them try to play in the sink or misting them.  From my own personally experience they make no connection between a spray bottle and the shower.  My birds hate the spray bottle but love the shower.  I also don't have any clue how this process would work with non-macaws, I just know macaws love to play in water.

Here are a few quick pointers

*Don't make the bird take a shower once they start enjoying them.  They will do it when they feel like it.  On some weeks the birds bathe once, others they bathe four or five times.  Leave it up to them.

*Keep the water lukewarm, not too cool and not too hot.

*Birds who accept showers can be given a quick soak during hot days (just remember to praise them as you do this) and it will keep them cool without making them afraid of you.

*Have fun with it. Merlin dives down my chest into my arms and splashes around into a puddle I make there.  He gets a kick out of talking to me and pinching when he does this.  It's a good bonding experience.

*If they start to respond to you in a sexual fashion reduce the number of showers and limit the playing around to the end of your arm.