Managing Cockatoo Dust and Dander
This third insight as to why Peachy is an exceptional pet (contrary to the reputation of male Moluccan Cockatoos), has to do with managing cockatoo dust.
Peachy is fed an organic avian vet recommended diet (Harrison's Bird Food). And, on top of that, he gets PSST or "personalized parrot spa treatment" regularly. No Worries!!! It's not that difficult or time consuming to combine bonding time with feather care. It is much easier to keep parrot dust and dander in control than to spend the time to clean up all household surfaces.
When I signed my adoption papers for Peachy, I agreed to provide a parrot-worthy home for him. Nancy at Bird's Of Paradise in Wichita, KS , looked me in the eye and clearly told me that Peachy needed a bath every day. Looking back, this advice was really important. People are captivated by birds not only because they can learn to talk, but they have such astoundingly beautiful feathering. Moluccan Cockatoo's sport a beautiful peach flavor in their white background feathering. I've so often enjoyed and showed off Peachy's astounding colorful feathers.
Powder-Down Birds Need Daily Bird Baths
Nancy knew that the cockatoo dust and dander (or any powder-down parrot for that matter) is difficult to live with. First, dusty feathers appear dull and when you pet a dusty bird, it looks like you've erased a chalk board with your hand. A dull looking parrot isn't pretty, nor is it comfortable for the bird. All that dust dries out your birds skin, makes the feathers appear unhealthy, causes unnatural preening and makes your parrot feel yucky. The bird knows it is not in superior condition.
In the wild, feather condition significantly affects a wild parrots ability to feel healthy and attract a mate. Our captive parrots have these same psychological and physical needs regarding feather care and they suffer when not bathed several times a week. We do too.
Worse, I once had a furnace guy ask me if I'd done some recent dry wall work when he saw Peachy's dust embedded in my furnace. Feather dust is a sign of a healthy cockatoo but if you run a heating and cooling system, that oily feather dust is really hard on your heating and cooling units. Bathing your parrot several times a week not only relieves skin discomfort and cleans feathers, it also saves your furnace system. The fine powder dust gets in your carpet fibers too. And, settles on everything. When you show a powder down bird, you're washing all that mess right down the drain. Wild parrots splash about in ponds and streams every day to clean their feathers off.
Giving A Frequent Bird Bath Helps Stop Feather Plucking
A parrot with dusty dirty feathers is driven to preen them. They need clean feathers for flight and beautiful, healthy feathers to attract a mate. That's why most species of wild birds bathe daily. Your pet bird has the same wiring to have clean, healthy feathers. But, over preening is a different blog. Peachy gets a lot of baths. I can't handle having that greasy based feather dust all over the house. But, more importantly, Peachy's skin gets cleaned and the excessive dust that has gotten dirty goes right down the drain. He doesn't need have to get all obsessive about his feathers because the frequent bird baths take care of that.
Lots of Cockatoo's have the reputation of being feather pluckers, but Peachy has only engaged in feather plucking for a short time when he suffered a bout of avian megabacteria. I think it is because he has a foundation of feeling physically healthy with a great parrot diet, lots of socialization, enrichment opportunities and gets lots of showers every week. Lots of days I have to bribe him to get on his shower perch with peanuts, but it is good for both of us that his feathers are clean.
How'd you help your pet bird to enjoy bird baths? Comment on how you encourage your parrot to take a bath.
- Diane Burroughs, LCSW