Other Animals
sun conures, conures
Image by JOMON JOSEPH from Pixabay

With the abundance of hydro flask choices flooding the store aisles and various types of filtered water pitchers to fill them, there’s no excuse for us humans not to drink our daily dose of clean, chilled-to-our-liking water. But, for our feathered friends, getting enough clean water takes more effort behind the scenes. Unlike dogs lapping up bowls of water, birds tend to sip water subtly throughout the day. Their intake is quiet and easily overlooked. Just because their water dish is full, don’t assume it’s fine to leave as-is. With food bits and droppings contaminating dishes, freshness declines quickly. Here’s why offering our birds water requires extra care and attention:

Birds Drink Water Every Day

Just because you don’t see your bird gulping down water from the bowl, doesn’t mean they don’t drink it. We are used to seeing dogs eagerly lap up water from the bowl to quench their thirst, especially after a long walk on a sunny day. Birds, on the other hand, can be quick sip-and-goers, or slow, methodical drinkers, as if savoring each droplet. Unlike that thirsty dog who might lick up an entire bowl of water at one sitting, a pet bird likely won’t drink up an entire dish of water. The water volume offered in a dish vs. the bird’s size is a much bigger differential.

Unfortunately, some people might mistake seeing a full water dish in the cage as not needing to replace it until they see the water level go down. When it comes to pet birds, you’re not refilling an empty water dish throughout the day as you would a dog. Rather you’re likely throwing out the fresh water you had to start the day with new rounds of fresh water.

Bird’s Water Can Get Dirty Fast

Water can be a breeding ground for bacteria if left too long in the cage. A lot of birds dunk their food in their water dishes, which can increase bacteria counts as the water becomes more muddled with food debris, which can include fallout from seed hulls and millet drifting into the water dish. Multiple water changes throughout the day are in order if your bird is a frequent food dunker or they have a tendency to poop in their water dish (see Dish Placement Matters below). If you ever dare to look into a sippy cup after a toddler with a mouth full of food drinks from it, you’ll probably see “food floaties” in it. You wouldn’t dare hand the kid the same sippy cup the next day to finish it off; the same goes for our feathered friends.

Dish Placement Matters

When it comes to pet birds and positioning their food and water bowls, “Look out below!” is an important phrase to keep in mind. While you can’t move the food and water cup receptacles in your bird’s cage design, you can relocate and place perches and swings around the cage to lessen the likelihood that your bird’s droppings will fall into its dishes. You can also use bowls designed to bolt on or to hang in other parts of the cage. The goal is to keep your bird from perching in areas that are directly over its food and water sources. That being said, don’t be surprised if your bird still manages to poop in dishes. If your bird’s droppings fall in the water dish, don’t wait until the day’s end to change it—the same goes for its food dish.

Having a Drink While Bathing

two red, yellow, green, and blue colored parrots sitting in the water of a creek
Two rosella parrots cool off in the water in their native Australia. Photo by Geoffrey Moore on Unsplash

A lot of birds take sips of water while bathing or showering, and their bathing preferences can be much more varied than ours. Some birds prefer a light misting from a water bottle, or a splash in a shallow dish of water set out for them, under a gentle stream of water from the faucet, rolling around on a wet piece of lettuce, and, of course, many birds bathe in their water dish inside the cage or on a playgym. Bathing helps maintain feather health, and there’s nothing more relaxing than watching a bird meticulously preen its feathers after a bath or shower! Bath time should not be the only time your bird has access to water to drink; a designated water bowl is always a must.

Clean The Dishes!

If your bird’s water/food bowls are ceramic, stainless steel, or made of thick plastic, there’s a high likelihood that they are dishwasher safe. (Check the manufacturer’s care instructions to be certain). You can also soak them in warm soapy water and scrub them down. Cleaning and scrubbing down your bird’s food and water dishes should be a part of your daily do; resist the shortcut of merely dumping the old water into the sink and refilling it day after day!

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