It’s been windy and chilly here in Northern Arizona lately, but today reached a sunny 78ºF. My pigeons were restless; as they tried to cram themselves into their water bowl for a refreshing dip, I agreed that it was good day to offer a water bath. I previously purchased a plastic cat litter box at my local 99¢ Store that looked large enough for multiple pigeons to bathe in! I have used smaller containers in the past, such as metal circular pet dishes; however, one pigeon typically hogs the entire water bath and fights off all others interested. I’m hoping a larger container will solve this problem.
Pigeons love water! While some birds enjoy a good dust bath, pigeons like to bathe in the water. If you have pigeons, I recommend offering them a lukewarm water bath at least weekly (if weather permits) and more frequently during warmer weather. This not only helps to keep their feathers and skin healthy by cleaning them and removing external parasites, it also serves as a source of behavioral enrichment and a stress reliever for the pigeons- it makes them feel great! Afterwards, they like to lay in the sunshine to dry off so it is also important for them to have access to natural, unfiltered sunlight where they can sunbathe. This is great for much needed vitamin D synthesis, too! Healthy feathers protect birds from the elements (provide insulation and are water proof) and aid in the production of flight. Preening helps to ensure that each feather is maintained and in its place!
Make sure your water bath is in a container separate from their drinking water and that it is not too deep- pigeons should be able to comfortably stand in the bath and be able to quickly escape, if needed. Ideally, it should be large enough to accommodate multiple pigeons and to give them enough room to splash around. Beware- they make quite the mess, although it is enjoyable to watch!
Here’s a recent example of my pigeons using a water bath: