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Thursday, February 25, 2010
Waterproof Birds

By Caitlyn
Follow in the adventures of Flip, Rabbit and Caitlyn in the Fledgling Blog.

congo african grey 
Coutesy Sue Kimball, Massachusetts
A good way to get your pet bird to bathe is to bathe is to spray it lightly with water.

“Like water off a duck’s back” is an expression that fits this blog. Think about this: When you hear people talking about waterproof birds, what do you picture? You think about birds that live in the water, right? Penguins, geese, ducks, and flamingos. Now, think about where parrots live. They live in the rain forest! And why do they call it the rain forest? It’s called the rain forest for a reason – because it rains a lot. So maybe we need to think about parrots being waterproof, too.

Do you know how birds make themselves waterproof? If you have ever seen your pet bird pick up the top of its tail, close to its body, and then drag its beak down the tail to the tip, you already know. There is a little gland at the top of a parrot’s tail that looks like a little white feather. It’s called a preen gland. The preen gland has an oil that makes the bird’s feathers waterproof. Every parrot has a preen gland except for the Amazons, and I don’t know why that is.

Now have you ever wondered where a cockatoo’s dust comes from? Remember we talked last time about all the different kinds of feathers are on a bird’s body. The bottom layer of a cockatoo’s feathers deteriorates as it gets old, and as these feathers fall apart they create dust. This dust helps cockatoos (and cockatiels, too) to be waterproof. The same sort of thing happens on African grey’s bodies. Parrots sometimes give themselves dust baths to clean themselves (unless your bird is Flip who loves to take baths in the water dish!).

Some birds like to be sprayed, some like to take a shower with their owners and some like to take their baths in a water bowl, but it is important to help all birds stay clean. Next time you spray or give your pet bird a bath, watch how the water beads on its feathers. Your pet bird is waterproof, too!

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Reader Comments
This article was educational. I own conures and amazons and had noticed the difference in their wet feathers but did not know why.
Carrie, Norton, KS
Posted: 5/21/2010 6:58:47 PM
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