Ask Lafeber


September 22, 2021

Teaching parrot to swim?

This might be a silly question, and it’s not something I’m planning to do – but I was curious after seeing a youtube video a few months ago (can’t find it again now) in which someone had taught their macaw to swim in a pool. The bird was using its wings like oars – doing the butterfly stroke while kicking with its feet.

Is this a bad idea, in general? I’m looking over at the goffin right now and thinking that she really wouldn’t like that…


Hi Phil,

Yes, this is a really, really bad idea under any circumstance. With the exception of water fowl, bodies of water are deadly for birds that fall in. Even birds of prey have drowned when miscalculating a strike on a fish. Once the feathers are saturated, the bird will sink, period. What you describe is the natural reaction for any non-water bird that finds itself in water. The bird will stretch its wings out as far as possible and use them to push across the water, hoping to reach safety before their wing feathers get too soaked to keep it buoyant. I can assure you the poor macaw was not enjoying this or gaining any benefit from it – it was just trying to survive. Hopefully this video was reported as animal cruelty and taken down. I can assure you this was not a case of training, this was a bird following its natural survival instincts. I can only guess the bird fell in by accident the first time, and for some reason the owner thought it was funny and worth putting the bird through it again to record it. And again you are correct – your Goffin’s would not appreciate being in a pool! Pools are a big hazard for pet birds. In warmer climates, some people keep parrots in cages near the pool, but sadly there are a lot of cases where the parrot gets out of the cage and is found dead in the pool. It is unfortunate that videos like this are online, because they set a bad example and then someone who wasn’t smart enough to ask ends up with a dead bird. Sadly there are countless videos with bad advice on diet, training, breeding and more. I wish everyone had the common sense that you have. Thank you for bringing this up because it can serve as a warning for others with pools.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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