The Bath

The Parrot Bath is not just a bath.

It is an event.

An occasion that requires planning, organization and orchestration.


Rita takes her bath seriously.

She knows as well as I do that cold water is unacceptable.

And, it could give her a fatal chill.

So, she waits until the temperature is just right.


While she waits, she studies a (fortunately, waterproof) canvas print of Botero’s fat family.

Perhaps, with a BMI of fifty grams too chubby, she identifies with this strange flock.

I always appreciate her patience with the preparations for her bath.

If  I asked her to sit on this perch for any other reason, she would complain to high heaven!


Her bath is a shower falling like a gentle rain from the Hudson sprayer that I hold over her head.

(Never blast a parrot in the face with cold water for any reason!)

She fluffs her feathers to catch the drops.

And stretches her wings to expose the flight feathers.

It always amuses me that she opens her wings wide and turns this way and that in a comical fashion

To be sprayed underneath each wing and on her sides.


It always delights me to watch her enjoying her bath.

When her back and wings are soaked to her satisfaction,

She spreads her wings and acts really silly for such an aloof lady!

All the while, declaring herself a “Pretty Girl!” in a perfect rendering of  my best mock-heroic tone.


When her bath is finished

She likes to walk around the tub to investigate.

This is a good time to examine her feet.

Ah, her nails are far too long.

The tips of her toes should lie flat on the walking surface.

Careful foot care is extremely important to

prevent foot sores, arthritis and a host of other ailments.


After her tour of the tub surround,

She’s back to the shower perch to stretch and shake and

Bob and weave and chat and generally enjoy herself.


In summer, Rita dries herself on her Java tree on the porch.

In winter, she has to settle for drying on her play stand next to my desk.

It is important never to place a wet parrot in a draught even at room temperature.

They are as cold as we would be if we stepped out of the shower and ran around without our clothes.

When their feathers are wet, they have no ability to regulate body temperature.


Rita expends considerable energy during her bath.

Drying and rearranging her feathers requires more stretching.

In much the same way that we require a snack after vigorous exercise,

Rita appreciates a refueling snack following the Bath Event.


Aaaah…  She settles into a resting position with one foot drawn up, her body relaxed.

Talking softly to herself.

Soon, she will be dozing to the sound of music from my computer.

And so goes the quiet finale.



Rita will spend many hours oiling her feathers following her bath.

Feather by feather with oil from the preening gland at the base of her tail feathers.

Yep, we girls do require meticulous attention to our coiffures following a shampoo, you know.

64 Comments on “The Bath

  1. Life with a parrot appears to be quite fascinating, George! You’ve got me in the mood for a bath (but I’m not walking around the edge of the tub 🙂


  2. Totally, totally missed these pics of Rita – and I’m afraid quite a bit more – on She Kept a Parrot. Fortunately, my Naval service ended 31 years ago as I fear this could be a keel hauling event for me. :-O


    • Yes, Rita thinks she’s a “pretty girl”. She says she is constantly while she takes her bath. I managed to snap her and shower her at the same time which is something of a feat for me as shaky as I am. But, she cooperates. 🙂 Don’t keel over trying to read this stuff!


  3. I am glad Rita does not mind you taking pictures of her 🙂 These are wonderful George. I was very interested in hearing about Rita, and her habits 🙂 .. had no idea about the oiling part…


    • Hi, Paula! Rita is accustomed to my rude habits since we’ve been together for so long. For thirteen years, I thought she had the preening gland. Most birds have it, but parrots do not. Can you imagine how I’d make that kind of assumption! Chuckle. Their feathers disintegrate into powder down which serves the same purpose as preen oil. They groom several times a day to keep their feathers clean and in the right position. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of her bath! Thanks, Paula!


      • I wish I had that much time for grooming 😀 😉 Thank you, George 🙂 I wish I could find time to be more regular on your posts. ( I am trying hard )


        • I know! I am scattered everywhere myself! I am happy to see you whenever you visit, Paula. I try hard too, but I’m like a kid in a candy store. I wander everywhere peeking into every wonderful blog I find and end up having failed “Follow 101”! Hey, when I bump into you out there in WP-Land, I’ll follow you home! That’s a deal you and I can both manage! 🙂 Chuckle…


    • Thank you, Patti. Rita and I have been together for such a long time that she pays little attention to the camera. Sometimes, when she’s in a bad mood, she turns her back to the camera though! Chuckle… She loves her bath so she doesn’t mind at all if I snap her. Thanks for stopping by to visit with us!


  4. The first photograph is divine, George. Such a sassy Rita pose! Look at her! I love the photo tour of her bath ritual…something I wish I had more time to do for myself!


    • Thanks, Elisa. I’m glad you like it. Rita enjoys her bath as much as anybody. 🙂 She’s funny and entertaining while she’s at it too. I’m glad you’re back! 🙂


  5. George, the photos just POP with color! You just have such a sweet way with everything in your life….


    • Thank you, WL. Life is good to me as they say. Now, I have time to linger wherever I want. To appreciate what I do and what I see. To have fun with the simplest things like Rita’s bath. These are the wonderful things about being old. Otherwise, I don’t know how to be old. Does anybody? Chuckle… Thank you for being my second biggest contributor of comments last year. You’re a sweetheart to follow along so closely. 🙂


      • I’m glad life is good to you! You’ll always be one of my favorites!


    • Oh, Celestine! You are such a generous person! Thank you so much. You always remember even when I forget.

      Happy New Year to you and your family too! Write lots, review lots and be happy and healthy in the new year! 🙂


  6. Oh dear George, this is one of your great posts, again. I didn’t know the details of a bath. Beautiful photographs you captured and also beautifully expressed. Fascinated me. Blessing and happiness to you both and yes, HAPPY NEW YEAR too. Thank you, love, nia


  7. You really are so good at combining sharp, interesting photos with amiable, descriptive prose and just enough information. I think that’s hard to do but you make it look effortless. The 4th shot is fun to see after thinking about what anticipatory pleasure Rita enjoys – and hey, I can totally relate!


    • Thanks, Lynn. If only I had your creative instinct and your talent, I would be in seventh heaven with my camera! I am lucky to get half-focused snapshots. But I enjoy it tremendously and I guess that’s what it’s all about in the end, huh? When Rita does her “folding” number (in #4) it tickles me too. Her flight feathers have been cut so that her wings are not full and pretty. She does love having her bath. And I think I enjoy watching her as much as she enjoys the water! Thank you for stopping in to chat, Lynn. I appreciate that. 🙂


    • Hi, Richard! I suppose a parrot bath could be a mundane affair, but not for Madame Rita. She absolutely loves her bath. She enjoys herself so much that it delights me too. Such antics and animated conversation! Some parrots bathe in dishes of water, but Rita likes a shower. Cheeky dunks himself almost daily in his bath dish. It’s fun to watch him plop right in whenever the idea strikes him. Thanks for stopping by to chat, Richard. Enjoy your sabbatical! 🙂


  8. Wonderful stuff, George, the sort of stuff that you excel in producing – you’ve taken a simple and quite unsensational (is that a word???) thing, Rita’s bath, and you’ve made it into pure delight, both to look at and to read about. As always, I can just hear you speaking the words. Adrian 🙂


    • Thanks, Adrian. Rita’s bath is a delight for me always. She’s so funny and so appreciates her bath. You should be in the audience for one of these events. You would be amused to hear the conversation. She and I carry on something ridiculous. Parrots talk to us, you know. She calls to me and I answer all day. If I’m out of sight, she wants to know where I am as any flock member in the wild would want to know. Any long time parrot keeper will tell you that a companion parrot communicates on a level that domestic animals do not. She keeps me cheerful whether I like it or not! I’m always happy to share our stories with you, Adrian! 🙂


  9. You are so lucky that bath times goes so well. And your pictures are divine! My dearly departed cockatoo, Reggie was rarely as cooperative. He had to have special music and be in the right mood. I was lucky if he would cooperate twice a week, which was way to infrequent, but I took what I could get! 🙂


    • Hi, Lorna! Well, Reggie knew when he wanted a bath! And when he did NOT. There really is no requirement for bathing often. Some parrots never bathe, but that seems unnatural to me. I’d set the resisting parrot out in the rain if he refused his bath. Cheeky bathes a lot, sometimes every day, in his bath dish inside his cage. Rita actually gets dirty and oily from dust, food, oil from my hands, etc., so I can’t imagine not bathing her. I usually bathe her every week and sometimes more often in the summer when she is spending a lot of time on her Java tree on the porch. You know, I always thought she had a uropygial gland and only just discovered (from my parrot consultant friend) that Amazons do not! So, I’m posting erroneous information here! Chuckle… Ah, can’t believe everything you read! Thanks, Lorna. Ze book? Ze book? 🙂


  10. How in the world do you manage to take such splendid photos of this process in which you are also part of the dance? Spectacular. How often does Rita enjoy a bath? Do you clip her toenails or does that require a trip to the vet or groomer? I really enjoyed this post.


    • Hi, Linda! Rita and I are old buddies. She’s been with me for 13 years. I don’t recall when I gave her the first bath, but I’d bet it was a fright! She was an adult when she came to me and was not socialized! Over the years, we’ve come to respect each other. She loves her baths and I enjoy providing the shower! She is easy since she is very comfortable with the routine. She knows that I won’t do anything abruptly to alarm her. I just paused the “shower” and snapped the photos. I’m glad you enjoyed the story! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to visit with us!

      OH, I forgot the nails. The vet trims her nails and shapes her beak about every six months. She is a little foot-shy so I never tried to trim them myself. She has to be toweled for the foot and nail work that he uses a Dremel tool to grind off the excess. She absolutely HATES it and would bite hunks out of the vet and the assistant who hold her if she could! I hate having to do that to her too.


  11. These are wonderful photos of Rita! Such rich and vibrant captures of Miss Rita’s finely orchestrated ablutions. I love the shot of her with her wings drenched and spread. She’s clearly enjoying herself! I was interested to learn about the care required for her nails. Is there anything that she does herself to tend to them?


    • Thanks, Lemony! In the wing-drenched photo, you can see that her flight feathers have been clipped and the first ones have grown back in. Soon, I will have to have them clipped again. I wish she could be flighted, but she began to chew up the wall above the curtain rod near her cage the last time I let the flight feathers stay. I hate having to clip her wings. But, there are trade-offs. She can go into the trees outside, enjoy her Java tree on the porch, and stay outside her cage all day when her feathers are clipped.

      No, She cannot trim her own nails. In the wild, she would wear them down on rough surfaces. In captivity, the nails have to be trimmed. She has a pronounced curvature of one nail that is a problem. I should towel her and keep it trimmed more often, but I don’t. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed The Bath. 🙂


  12. Ah! A treat for us all – as baths should be, don’t you think? Loved this tike with you and Rita, George – and good to catch a little news of Mr. Cutie. New Years greetings to you all 🙂


    • Hi, Meredith! Thanks for stopping by to visit Rita and me. I’m glad you enjoyed “our” bath production. Yes, baths should be enjoyable for every creature! I’m afraid some people spray their parrots in the face as a punishment. That’s so very sad. Mr. Cheeky is just as cheeky as ever and the sweetest little guy. I suppose I’ll give him his share of the limelight soon. 😉

      Have a great 2014 with lots of new adventures!


    • HI, Debra! Thanks for stopping by to visit. Rita thinks she’s a “pretty girl” and is not shy about saying so. 🙂

      I am very fortunate to have Rita with me. Seeing her in that crate at the feed store that day was serendipitous, for sure. I didn’t know about parrots, but I saw something in her eyes that compelled me to bring her home with me. And, it’s been a truly wonderful 13 years with her!


  13. As per usual your post is both educational and really tender. Also VERY well photographed which is my expectation at this point. Rita is beautiful, and what a lucky girl she is to have you as her caregiver.


    • Hi, Sync! I find the lorikeets to be really interesting parrots. They require specialized diets though. They’re beautiful birds. Glad you liked Rita’s bath! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to chat!


    • Thanks, Sam! She’s something of a character. I do enjoy having her here with me. And, bath time is fun for both of us. I’ll be over to check out your Christmas photos. I liked the end-of-the-year collection a lot. That’s a really good idea that I keep forgetting to do. Maybe next time. Or, heck, anytime since I’m too old to put off anything at all! 😉


  14. You take care of Rita in such a patient and loving way! As we girls get older we need to have more grooming time. She looks lovely! I like the Botero family!


    • Hi, Jo Nell. Thank you. I am lucky to have Miss Rita for a companion. We’ve been together for such a long time that we are comfortable with each other. What was a chore for me when I had little understanding of parrots, is a joy for me now. She makes me laugh. One of the real pleasures of my life. She is shameless in her own description of herself as a “pretty girl”. The funny thing is that she uses the phrase appropriately. Of course, she provides her own wolf whistle if I don’t oblige her! 🙂 Do a Spring Dance for us. I’m ready!


  15. Enjoyed this post so very much, George. Not only did we get an opportunity to share in the delight of Rita, but also to understand the difficulty of taking care of this lovable living creature. In particular, I was able to identify with your care. Thank you.


    • I know you’ve been under the weather so I’m glad to post something to cheer you a bit! I’m happy, too, to see you here. You must be feeling better. Rita has been with me for almost thirteen years. We’re comfortable in our routines that seem simple now after so long. It was a struggle for both of us at first. That is, until she taught me how to behave! When you hear parrot keepers say that, it is not an exaggeration. These wild creatures are fascinating. I know you understand the limits that Rita sets since they are much like Nechama’s! I think that’s why you and I like cats and parrots! 🙂


  16. Both Joanna and I have, for quite some time now, been looking forward with eager anticipation to the next installment of the Parrot how-to digest. This one was wonderful. Joanna notes that the details reveal, without a doubt, that you love your birds. Is it appropriate to say that ‘Rita is a lucky duck’? She is a real beauty and your wonderful images do her justice. Thanks … and looking forward to the next chapter. I hope Mr. Cheeky is doing well. Does he have the bath routine down as well? D (+J)


    • Hi, Farmer! I’m glad you and Joanna enjoyed Miss Rita’s bath. I’ll remind Her Majesty that she’s a lucky duck! 🙂
      Rita has been with me for almost thirteen years now so we understand each other. That makes life very easy for us.
      Mr. Cheeky is doing really well. He took flight last week circling around my chair and landing in my hand when I instinctively held it out to him. He’s a real character. His flight feathers are really pretty, but I will have to trim them for his safety… As much as I hate to do it. Thank you for stopping by to visit with us! As I keep saying, you guys need your birds back!


  17. Apparently there’s no way to correct mistakes…I meant “feel”, of course. -:(


  18. I loved this; I can just see Rita doing all that stuff. She’s such a funny girl (?)! Apparently you escaped the bug since you fell well enough to do all this. Susie and Cate weren’t as lucky!


    • Hi, Linda! I know you enjoy seeing Miss Rita too. Yes, I escaped. And, I’m glad to hear that you and AH didn’t share Susie’s flu! 🙂



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