I've read that African Greys spend a lot of time foraging on the ground in the wild. Since being soaked from a bath would make it very difficult to fly away from predators if they're on the ground, they may not generally get as wet during a bath as some other birds that spend most of their time foraging in trees. Many people who own captive African Greys report that they don't like to get very wet. So when Harley's former Mom told me he likes to take baths, I was pretty excited. Remember, I'm used to Peanut, who splashed water on his face a couple of times a month, but that's it. My expectations were very high.
Reality has turned out to be a little less wet, although part of that is probably the fact we're all still adjusting to each other, and the space is still new to him.
Most days (it should be every day, since Harley is a Walking Giant Dust Mite) I set him on the edge of the kitchen sink and spritz him gently with a water mister. Some days (well, many days), he's just not in the mood. I can tell because he'll either start climbing up my arm if I haven't quite gotten him to step off my hand, or he'll start climbing up the tea kettle that sits right next to the sink. I'm getting really good at reading his subtle cues, aren't I? But when he's in the mood, he'll sidle back and forth along the edge of the sink, walking into and out of the steady misting I aim across his bow. He bites at the mist, scratches his ears, almost raises his wings, and generally has a pretty good time.
I've tried different bathing methods, as well. The oval baking dish in the picture fits nicely in the bathtub. But the edge is apparently a little thin for perching, and — well — the bathtub is pink. So despite the extra water I pour into the dish from the very tasty measuring cup, and the additional misting, Harley spends most of his time drinking the drops of water from the bottom of the bathtub, as if to lick the pink coloring right off. Well, who could blame him?
The brown square dish is an eight-inch baking dish, perfect for making brownies if you didn't have a six-foot Finsterium taking up one-third of your kitchen. Its two handles make very nice perches, and it also fits in the kitchen sink. Unfortunately, despite our playful splashing, words of encouragement, and lovely renditions of the "Rubber Duckie" song, Harley doesn't do much more in this dish than drink from it, no matter where it sits.
We've also tried the shower — we even got a new shower head with a gentle, drippy setting that should be just perfect for a bird bath. As we've all gotten to know each other better, Harley has seemed more interested in bathing in the shower. (No, there will be no pictures of this.) But so far, we've had the best luck with the misting at the sink's edge.
That is, unless Harley gets into one of his moods to take a bath in his water dish in his cage. That's the small, round white bowl in the picture. Which has even less bathing space available when it's in the cage, because of the wire frame that's designed to keep big birds from tipping their dishes over. Which they would do every day
if only they could.
Mind you, when Harley splashes in his water dish, he's already getting wetter of his own volition than Peanut ever did. But I always feel badly that he's this big bird, trying to take a bath in this little dish, so I quickly clean the bathtub (since I just know he's going to lick
it), grab one of the baking dishes, an extra cup of water, the mister, get Harley, and try to encourage him to just jump in and get all wet.
No such luck. After a little drinking, splashing, and licking, he starts looking at me funny, so I put him back home, where he immediately starts ducking his head in his little water dish again. This has happened several times.
Yesterday he started bathing in his water dish, so I got him, put him on the edge of the kitchen sink, and gave him the biggest misting yet! Good times! And when I put him back in his cage, he started bathing in his water dish again. So I picked him up again, and gave him another Biggest Misting Yet! Awesome! And when I put him back in his cage, he started bathing in his water dish again. So I picked him up again, put the brown baking dish in the kitchen sink, and splashed around in the water with him. He drank a little water, almost splashed water on his head from the dish, and started looking at me funny, so I put him back home.
Where he immediately started splashing his head in the water dish again.