Leaf bathing is a bathing technique involving the use of wet leaves rather than pools of water. Leaf bathing is most often seen in small birds, but occasionally medium-sized parrots like African greys will use this technique as well. The behavior involves a bird rolling and/or rubbing its body in wet greens in an effort to clean its feathers. In the wild, leaf bathing is done on dew-covered leaves or after rainfall.
It was originally theorized that leaf bathing was used by desert species like budgerigars and cockatiels that had limited access to rainfall or standing pools of water for bathing. However, several of the smaller rain-forest species also leaf bathe, so that theory hardly holds water.
Enjoy! This is a charming behavior to watch. The use of wet greens in a shallow bowl can encourage some reluctant bathers to indulge. Parrot species like caiques are quite famous for “bathing” in people’s hair, if allowed. Be forewarned, though. Most caiques adore leaf bathing and are quite capable of aggression toward anyone who dares to interrupt them before they are done.
Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.