The Importance of Water

The Importance of Water


As we know, a lack of water for a substantial time can cause dehydration.  How long a bird can go without water and suffer no lasting ill effects can vary greatly among the different species.  In some species such as finches and canaries it may be as short as only a few hours before it begins to affect their kidneys.  Birds such as Budgies and Cockatiels are native to dryer regions and may be okay for a few hours without water before any lasting health issue arise.   

As we know dehydration in all of us can be serious, and in birds it can cause long term health issues that may affect your bird permanently.  Female birds in general often drink more water than males, and breeding females require even more water to help with egg laying and even more if they are feeding babies.  Also older birds or birds with health issues may require more access to water.  Birds who eat mostly or only pelleted diets will routinely drink more water than birds that are only eating a seed diet.  Birds who eat fresh fruits and vegetables may drink less water from a dish or bottle as they are getting additional moisture from their food.

Open Water Bowls:
Using open water bowls have both pros and cons.  Many birds just love to splash around in their dishes and all that splashing and bathing can add needed moisture to their feathers, especially during molts, which is a good thing.  Birds are also notorious for soaking their foods, especially pellets, in their water dishes preferring a softer food or creating that interesting "birdie soup" as I like to call it.   Unfortunately, the above fun activities also keep their humans busy trying hard to keep clean water in the dish.

Using Water Bottles:
Water bottles provide clean drinking water for our birds daily, but using a water bottle can also take away the fun baths and soup mixtures (which may or may not be a good thing).  If you prefer to use a water bottle instead of an open water dish, always always be sure your bird is in fact drinking from the bottle before removing the open dish.  Placing the bottle over the regular water dish may help your bird discover the bottle tube easier and your bird may give it a try quicker this way.  You can monitor to see if the bird drinks from the bottle before taking away the dish.  
However, even using a water bottle for cleaner water can also present issues to watch for.  Some birds learn how fun it is to shower under the water bottle tube.  I have a Sun Conure named Bobbie who will completely empty her water bottle in the process of taking her shower.  Some birds also discover how much fun it is to push seeds and other foods (and even a small toy part or two) up the tube blocking the water completely.  Unfortunately, all these fun activities can result in an empty water bottle, or a tube that has been stopped up and unable to release water to your bird in just a day's time.

That's why I feel it is very important when using water bottles to check at a minimum of once daily that the bottle is not stopped up, and contains plenty of water.  Twice a day is even better.  Never assume just because a bottle looks full, it is working properly.

Water Twice as Nice:
Bacteria can begin to grow within 24 hours even in a water bottle, so remember to change the bottle regularly for freshness.  Sometimes using both an open water dish, and a water bottle will provide both fun, and clean water for your bird.  Maybe offering an open dish along with the water bottle during the day, and removing the open dish and leaving the bottle for night time will be a good solution to provide clean water for all the needs of your bird  

Refreshing Bird Baths:
Don't forget about those refreshing spray baths and showers and how important water is for your bird's feather health.  It does not matter if your bird enjoys bathing in a dish, sink, shower, or a fun spray bath with a pump water sprayer.  Water helps soften new feather shafts, refreshes feathers, helps control dander, adds moisture to the skin, and just plain makes those feathers gorgeous.  Not to mention the sheer joy of a bathing bird.

Bird who over-preen tend to do less damage to wet feathers.  Regular bathing allows them to satisfy the preening action without causing as much damage to they might to dry feathers.  Over-preening also often occurs less in birds who bathe on a regular basis.  Bathing makes feathers healthier and stronger allowing them to help withstand a bird who is a little more aggressive in preening.  Birds can get dry skin too and it can be quite itchy which bathing helps as well.

I would love to hear how your bird prefers his or her bath, or how you manage to provide fresh clean water for your bird, so please feel free to comment below.


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