Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hello - My Bird Won't Bathe !

I am guessing most of us with companion birds have experienced a time or two when our birds just didn't seem as keen on bathing as we might like to think they should be. In fact, I have seen this question come up on more than one bird forum lately. Perhaps because it is summer!

Coco has been going through this stage. For about a week or so, she has not wanted to get in the bathtub. It is usually something she enjoys, and her baths tend to last 15 to 20 minutes. She has not had any bad experiences in the bathroom or the tub; she is practicing her 'just say no' policy (yeah, like she needs practice...).

Let me tell you a story:

When I was about 2 or 3, I went through a stage where I wasn't eating much. (Let me allay any of your concerns; I have totally gotten over it!)

My parents questioned the doctor... what should they do about this alarming problem? No one wants to see their child pretty much stop eating.

He responded, "leave her alone; as long as you don't give her junk food, she will eat when she's hungry."

Easy advice for a confident doctor to give; difficult advice for a nervous parent to follow. The doctor's point was clear. I was going through a stage (did I mention, I got over it?), and when provided with quality food, and no opportunity to snack, I would eat. I had eaten before, and I would most likely eat again.

And, I did... get over that. (As I believe I mentioned.) My parents continued to provide the opportunity to eat good food at each meal, and sure enough I got through that stage - quite successfully, thank you!

Now, back to the birds and bathing! A bird that has a history of enjoying bathing will still experience times of disinterest. I continue to make shower opportunities available to Coco each day. At some point, she will say yes.

Coco does not have a problem with her choice not to shower. Now, I could make this my problem if I wanted to get my nervous Nellie knickers in a snicker, and perform some mental gymnastics:

What is wrong with her?
Should I be concerned?
Is she sick?
Should I take her to the vet?
Won't she become unhappy or depressed?
As hot as it is, I really think she needs a bath, don't you?
She recently started a molt; I really think a bath would do her good!
What if she never, ever wants to ever take a bath again?
Won't her skin get itchy?
What if I just put her in the bathtub and turn the shower on... then she can see what she has been missing?

Naturally, I dramatize. Although, most of these questions I have not simply made up; perhaps you've heard one or two of them.

Now, if I really want to make the situation worse, then forcing or tricking Coco into the tub would do it. She would have a bad experience with both me and the tub. Another ploy is to convince myself that after 13 years of bathing she simply forgot what it was like or how to do it. But as soon as I dump her in there and turn on the water, it will all come 'flooding' back (pardon the pun), and she'll thank me for it later! (Thankfully, I jest!)

What is true, I believe, is that everyone, no matter how few or how many years living with birds, can be subject to moments of nervousness, worry, and fret! Our birds are a big, important part of our life. We want only the best, and the best all the time, for each one of them. Sometimes when we are fretting, our birds may simply be experiencing the natural cycle of waxing and waning interests.

Let's face it... they do not want the same vegetables everyday. Last week she wanted squash; this week she is into green beans.

Coco used to love almonds, and now she spits them back at me as if I just won the Idiot of the Year award.

Last week she wanted to shower; this week she is posing for a Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" poster...

It is all part of the dance; part of the relationship. That one pound bird is comprised of more than feathers... she's got a personality, preferences and choices!

Go figure...

There is a time to be concerned, and a time to relax and experience the various stages and changes of preferences.

If I get too nervous, I can expend that energy journaling their every move; it keeps me enriched... sort of like a shredder toy or foraging. Using pencils to write is even better, as they must be frequently sharpened; added enrichment!

Oh, and if journaling doesn't work, I can always take a bath to relax!



LunarLass said...

I juuuuust posted a topic like this on TalkBudgies, as Luna hasn't had a bath in almost two months---and she's looking a tiny bit ratty. As a former infection control nurse, I look at her slightly crusty butt and have a total fit. However my hubby pointed out that Luna may not be as "obsessively concerned about her arse" as I am, and that I should "just back-the-heck-off with the spray bottle before I drive her to Luna-CY." Seems that advice is consistent with this post, though Robin says it a tad more...tactfully. Alas, I shall no longer worry about my birdie's butt...and will enjoy an hot bath myself instead. ;) Thanks Robin!

Robin said...

Luna-CY... I love it! That is so cute! I would just provide her with plenty of opportunities. Several times a day. Even bring her into the bathroom with you during showers to see if you cannot spur on those instincts! If she enjoys being misted, and spreads her wings and gets excited about the process, than that is wonderful! You may have not stumbled on to her favorite bathing technique yet, so keep trying! When Coco was a baby, she loved to bathe in the sink and I used the little sink hose. Now she's a little too big for that, though!

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