Parrot near sink full of water

Can Parrots Swim? (Are Feathers Waterproof?)

Some birds have developed adaptions that give them the ability to swim on water, but the same is not true for parrots. Parrots in the wild rarely go near water bodies. They are mostly seen foraging on trees and sometimes on land. 

Parrots are not good swimmers. While their feathers offer some water resistance, they are not hydrophobic. If the feathers become wet, they can get saturated with water quickly, making it difficult for the parrot to stay afloat. 

However, parrots do enjoy water, especially on a hot summer day. They like dipping their feathers in shallow waters as it helps them stay clean and keep their skin moisturized. 

Can Parrots Float

Parrots can technically float on water, but not for very long. Just like other birds, parrot feathers are not fully waterproof. When a parrot’s feathers get wet, they soak water and become heavier, which causes them to lose buoyancy. 

Are Parrot Feathers Water-Proof?

Parrot feathers are not entirely waterproof, but they do have some degree of water resistance. The structural integrity of parrot feathers helps repel water to some extent. According to Science Direct, feathers are water-proof due to their intrinsic structure.  

A parrot’s feathers consist of barbs which comprise numerous barbules with micro-hooklets called barbicles. These hooks connect the overlapping barbs forming an insulated layer that repels water. 

However, the barbicels can be disrupted by external factors such as shaking or strutting. This seal is re-established by the bird preening their feathers. Parrots run their beaks down the length of the feather to bring them back together. 

While doing so, they also apply a natural oil, which waterproofs their feathers. Like most birds, parrots have a uropygial gland located at the base of their tail, which secretes an oily substance. 

Parrots apply this oil all over their feathers, which gives them water-repellent properties. It prevents the feathers from immediately soaking in water and helps the parrot stay afloat for a short while.

However, parrot feathers are not hydrophobic like the feathers of some aquatic birds like ducks and mallards. If a parrot’s feathers become soaked with water, it will not be able to float.

Ringneck parrot bathing in water

Can Parrots Drown In Water?

A parrot will drown if its feathers are submerged in water. Water can remove the oil from the feathers and break the seal created by hooked barbules.

If you let your parrot submerge in water, it will float on for a while before its feathers start to absorb water. Once the feathers become soggy, it will be difficult for the parrot to move and it can potentially drown.

How Long Can Parrots Float On Water? 

A healthy adult parrot can float on water for a short period, typically just a few minutes. However, the rate at which their feathers absorb water can depend on the parrot’s movement in water.

If a parrot panics and thrashes in the water, its feathers will soak more quickly. However, if the parrot’s wings are not clipped and they have enough strength, they may still be able to take flight even with slightly damp feathers, which can help them escape from the water.

What Happens If A Parrot Falls In A Pool Of Water?

Parrots should not be left near a pool unattended. If they fall into the water, they will not be able to get out of it on their own. If you have a pool or bathtub in your house, it is advised not to let your parrot go near it in your absence. Although a parrot will not intentionally go into the pool of water, accidents can happen.

Can Baby Parrots Swim?

Baby parrots cannot swim and will drown quickly in water. They are at high risk of drowning due to their downy feathers, which do not resist water. Baby parrots have down feathers which can become waterlogged easily.

In general, baby parrots should be prevented from getting wet. The down feathers can get wet easily which can lead to health problems like Hypothermia. When the down feathers become wet, it can cause baby parrots to lose heat and lead to hypothermia, which can be life-threatening for them.

Do Parrots Like Water?

Most parrots do enjoy water. In their natural habitats, parrots are used to frequent rainfalls and often use this as an opportunity to bathe. Many pet parrots also like being sprayed with water, especially when the outside temperatures are too hot. They also enjoy splashing water when you let them bathe on their own inside a big enough bowl. 

Can You Bathe Your Parrot?

Regular bathing is important for parrots. You should bathe your parrot at least 2-3 times a week. You can either spray your parrot with water or let them bathe themselves in a bowl with shallow water. 

Both methods are suitable and equally enjoyed by parrots. But be careful when letting your parrot dip in water. You should not fill their bath with too much water that they sink in. They should be able to move around freely. 

If you see your parrot thrashing and flapping its wings, it means the water levels are high for them. Water levels should only be sufficient for dipping your parrot’s wings. They will soak the feathers and shake off the excess water to clean themselves. 

Spraying can also be a good way to bathe your parrot. It is especially helpful when you live in regions with low humidity. Parrots come from areas that have high humidity which keeps their feathers and skin moisturized. 

Low humidity can cause parrot feathers to become dry and itchy so you have to mist them more often. Misting can also be useful in cold weather where you do not want to completely wet your parrot. You can mist them lightly to help them clean their feathers. 

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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