I thought talking about this would make a good post, as it’s been on my mind for a long time now. Blow-drying is not good for your bird in two ways: First, it can dry out a parrot’s skin. This is most relevant because many will begin to pluck when their skin feels itchy and gross. It’s kind of like how people will dig at their itchy flesh because the feeling just won’t go away. Not fun. You’ve noticed also how human hair can get too dry, and need special shampoos/treatment after heat damage? It’s much the same with feathers.
Second, blow-drying puts your bird at risk for burns. Even if you’re careful and do it on the low setting, it can be like with little kids – too long and you’ll scorch the skin. And it’s too easy to do.
The best way to bathe a bird is to let it air-dry afterwards. Don’t worry, it won’t catch cold – they’re evolved to do this. If you’re concerned about a chill, though, you should be placing your bird somewhere warm and draft-free. A little bit of shivering is actually okay, and you shouldn’t worry about this – unless your bird is, say, majorly shaking.
Letting a bird air-dry after a bath or shower promotes healthy preening habits. This is the real purpose of bath-time: The preen-session afterwards. The drying process is the important part! It’s not so much about that romp in the water, although that has its benefits, too. It’s about the time spent afterwards literally zipping feathers back into place, and removing dirt and debris that may have remained. Towel drying also discourages good preening behaviour, and doing so can really ruffle things up and make a bird upset.
Also note that a bird should never be shampooed, soaped, or otherwise treated with product (human, or ‘avian safe’). Contrary to what some companies will assure their buyers, a bird’s health is best promoted by letting nature do as nature intended – where possible, at least. Stay away from shampoos and soaps of any kind. These can leave a residue on feathers, which will again discourage preening and encourage bad habits like plucking.
There is one more huge disadvantage to hair dryers, which is that many have a non-stick coating. Do you know if your brand uses this? Such a coating is also included on many products, including cookers (ovens), hair straighteners, curling irons, and more. Just like the non-stick coatings on many household pots and pans, this can heat up and release toxic fumes that will instantly kill your bird.
Three big benefits of showering and bathing for birds:
Benefit #1: Birds who shower multiple times a week in the summer (and at least once a week in the winter) – and by this, I mean getting really soaked to the skin – are less likely to pluck or feather-barber. But remember, even letting your bird bask in the steam from the shower has its benefits, if it doesn’t want to get in yet.
Benefit #2: Feathers tend to look healthier with a bird preening them gently after a bath. Showering also encourages a healthy respiratory system in your bird (and it can help you by suppressing dust on those dusty Old World birds).
Benefit #3: It’s an enrichment thing. Don’t be afraid to look at shower time as fun time! Many birds enjoy bathing, and you can turn this to your advantage. Make it a group activity for added benefit.
Need help getting your parrot to bathe? Check here for some easy tips to make bath-time for your parrot an enjoyable experience.