Why Does Running the Vacuum Trigger My Birds Need to Bathe?

Why Does Running the Vacuum Trigger My Birds Need to Bathe?

Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing

Karen C wonders about vacuuming and birds,

Just a funny question for you which you’ll probably get a chuckle out of. Why is it that birds, at least mine, just love it when I run the vacuum cleaner? My conure immediately heads for his water dish to take a bath and my parakeets start chirping up a storm and going bananas. Maybe the conure wants to be nice and clean too?

Also, I look forward every Sunday to your thought for the day. They are very inspirational and I have written quite a few of them down to refer to later.

Dear Karen

Thank you very much for your kind words about the blog.

Yes, it is always funny when while vacuuming to see our birds suddenly decide to take a bath.

There are theories as to why they do that. One is that it sounds like running water to them and it causes them to also want to bathe.

Well, that is a possibility but I think it is a result of the noise making them feel safe.

In the wild, the rainforest, wherever there are birds, there are also predators.

The jungle is not quiet with all the wildlife going on until a predator strolls through. Then things get quiet as the prey animals hush up so they are not noticed by something that can eat them.

When the predator has passed through, the birds and other prey animals pipe back up.

Birds are most vulnerable when they are bathing. They can’t fly away from danger quickly with wet feathers and they depend on listening to the sounds of birds singing and calling out without fear of any danger while they take their bath. If things get quiet, they know they may be in danger.

In our homes, the birds also feel more comfortable and safe when there are regular sounds and noises going on. They will be quieter when the TV and radio are off and no one is talking because they instinctually feel that they need to be quiet as well so they don’t get the wrong kind of attention.

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We have two small parrots (Keto, an African Ringneck and Chili, a Quaker) that spend the work week in smaller cages on the counter in our store close to my desk. I have the radio on as I work and it is not very loud, but they are obviously more comfortable when the volume is up, vs when the volume is very low. 

If my husband, Mitch, comes to the counter or a customer is standing there and we are talking, they both will crank it up and start talking and calling out. They want to be part of the conversation and feel very comfortable. If I turn off the radio and sit without any sounds, they will sit quietly.

It is basically self-preservation.

Thanks for answering, Catherine.

You mention having the radio on or something in the background for noise really hit home. 

Many years ago we had a parakeet. 

Over the 3 day weekend that our kids had off for school we decided to take a trip to Niagara Falls that weekend and see the sights up there. 

Well at that time I didn’t even consider leaving the radio on for our little fellow so he would have some voices to keep him company.  When we got back home 2 days later, we came home to a completely naked little guy who had plucked out every feather he could reach while we were gone.  

What a shock.  We all felt absolutely terrible about it. 

That was before learning about leaving some background noise for him.  I can say it was a lesson well learned for me.  He did eventually feather out again but it took some time.  They say you learn something new every day and I can tell you it’s something I will never forget, ever.  


Dear Karen

Thank you for your reply. Yes, our birds need noise to feel safe.

One other issue that sounds helps with is for cockatiels. They are known for experiencing Night Frights. If while sleeping, they are startled by a sound, they may start to fly wildly around their cage, smashing and banging themselves terribly, this can cause broken wings, bruised shoulders and other damage. Other birds can experience this as well, but it appears to be a major issue for cockatiels.

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Cockatiels that are prone to this are helped by setting up a noise machine nearby with some low sound, and also a night light. Something dim, but that will allow the bird to not be in total darkness.

This also brings up another issue. Cage covers. They are often not understood as to why they are needed and their actual function. 

They are not meant to plunge a bird into total darkness. It is a fallacy that a bird will fall asleep when covered. The cover is to give them some privacy that simulates the leaf cover on a tree they would be sleeping in. They naturally feel safer if they can’t see movement and can relax for the night. It does not have to fully cover the cage, light can enter from the bottom, etc. We cover our 4 bird cages at night and they can hear us, but can’t see us. They feel safe and can relax.

Thank you

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