Pigeons are engaging birds known for their plumage, racing and homing abilities. Pigeons are bred in a variety of shapes and colors, and many fanciers and pet keepers show their birds. Before showing, birds are conditioned with a proper diet and offered a place to bathe. Pigeons aren't bathed like a dog or cat, as bathing will strip their oils and damage feathers -- conditions not desired for the "show ring look." Pigeons do, though, need regular access to bathing resources, because they will engage in a sort of bathing behavior" to maintain good feather condition.
Find or purchase a clean tray that will fit several birds trying to bathe. Choose a tray that isn't more than seven inches deep and less than twelve inches across. Fill the tray with three or four inches of clean water. Use the shallower depth for smaller pigeon breeds. Change the water daily or after it is soiled with debris or droppings. Note that water temperature doesn't matter, but overly hot or cold water shouldn't be used.
Offer the bathing water to the pigeons before showing. Use the same technique as described in step one. Remove the bathing water tray five days before the show date. Don't allow the pigeons to have access to bathing for the five days before the show, as the water removes feather oils. Allow the birds this bath-free time to groom and develop a shine to their plumage.
Spot-clean pigeons to remove staining (especially on white feathers). Use a mild shampoo (a non-medicated pet shampoo works well). Dampen a paper towel or soft cloth with warm water and a small amount of shampoo. Hold the pigeon and dab at the stained feather(s). Rinse the cleaned area with a spray of water or a wet clean cloth, avoiding the bird's face. Let the bird dry naturally. Use a livestock-formulated, waterless cleaning spray for last-minute spot-cleaning.
Scrub and clean the bathing tray daily or several times a day. The water must be clean and free of debris and droppings; pigeons drink from the tray as they bathe. Add bird feather conditioners, available from avian catalogs, to their bath. Follow manufacturer's directions for these products.
Never use deep, steep or overly large trays. Pigeons can't swim, and they will drown in a deep bucket of water. Never leave buckets of water near the pigeons or near baby pigeons. Finally, never use detergents or cleaning soap of any kind in the bathing water, because pigeons will drink it.
- "Texas Pigeon Association"; Preparing for a Show - Pigeon Show Preparations; Doratha Connally
- "Pigeons"; Matthew Vriends, et al; 2005
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