While many bird owners stick with an open water bowl, others prefer using a water bottle since it greatly reduces risk of contamination associated with food, droppings, and various types of cage debris. Compared to the more traditional open water bowl, a water bottle looks nicer and in many cases, actually prevents unwanted behaviors connected with stress such as feather plucking.
If choosing to use a water bottle or when switching from an open bowl to a bottle there are a few key factors to consider. For example, the type and quality of the bottle is crucial but in addition, chances are good the bird will need some level of training.
Choosing the Right Water Bottle
There are many different types of water bottles available to include those made from plastic, glass, and resin. Typically, the nozzle or tube is made from stainless steel, which contains a small ball inside that helps regulate water flow. Many experts believe that birds are attracted to and show more interest in color, which is why some water bottles are designed with red flow balls. Depending on the manufacturer, a water bottle may also have a metal guard that sits between the cage and the bottle itself to prevent breakage caused from hard beaks.
Because bird water bottles are relatively cheap, we recommend buying at least two. That way, the bird is provided with fresh water while the dirty bottle is being cleaned and sanitized. Something else to consider is the size of the bottle, which will vary according to bar spacing and cage height.
Proper Bottle Mounting
Most importantly, the water bottle needs to be placed inside the cage and at a height that makes it easy to reach. The bottle will also need to be positioned just slightly to the side of a perch, allowing the bird to extend its neck when drinking.
Helpful Bird Training
As mentioned, in order to accept a water bottle, a bird might require a little bit of training. One of the easiest and most successful tricks is to tap the metal ball a few times while the bird watches. Usually, the bird will quickly make the connection between movement of the ball and the release of water. Remember, birds are curious by nature so if not immediately, a pet bird will eventually go to investigate.
If there seems to be no interest, the bird can be picked up and using its beak, the metal ball tapped. While most birds learn to drink from a water bottle within a few minutes, it can take some several hours to a full day.
Unfortunately, the tube can leak, especially in poorly constructed bottles. For this reason, a pet owner should never use the water line to determine the amount of water being drank. To ensure the bird is getting enough water, we suggest leaving a water bowl on the cage floor or an open bowl attached to the cage bars for the first few days.
Water flow needs to be checked after first attaching the bottle but also with every cage cleaning. Then daily, the ball should be tapped to make sure water flows freely. After all, the ball itself can become stuck but birds are also known for shoving substrate and food into the nozzle, thereby blocking the flow of water. The amount of water in the bottle also needs to be checked since there are certain species of birds that love using the water to bathe, which is fine but it also depletes water for drinking.
A common misconception is that a water bottle eliminates risk of bacterial overgrowth, but in truth, it can still be problematic just like an open bowl. However, when properly maintained and cleaned, overgrowth of Pseudomonas and other harmful bacteria is significantly reduced. Even though most water bottles sold today are dishwasher safe, the interior should be scrubbed out once a month using a brush designated solely for the bird. The nozzle can also be run through the dishwasher although periodic cleaning with a pipe cleaner is necessary.