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How to Dye a Bird's Feathers

Updated July 20, 2017

Festive holiday colours punctuate the special gift of a baby chick or duck, and white budgies can be coloured to represent a child's favourite colour. Bird feathers can also be coloured just for fun. Birds must have light or white feathers to receive colour properly. Some bird feathers that can easily be coloured include white budgies, white doves, lutino cockatiels, yellow baby chickens and yellow ducks. The food grade colour should be temporary and nontoxic. Laws pertaining to artificially colouring birds vary, so check your region's laws before proceeding.

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  1. Select a colour of food-grade colouring. Sets usually come in red, yellow, green and blue. You may have to search around to find other colours; stores that carry cake-decorating supplies should carry more colour choices.

  2. Fill a spray bottle with 118ml. of warm water, and add 4 teaspoonfuls of food colouring. Swirl the contents of the spray bottle gently to combine the food colouring with the water.

  3. Mist the bird until its feathers are saturated. This is a common way to give a bird a bath, so, although the bird may not love the process, it is completely harmless.

  4. Pat the bird dry with a paper towel. You can also leave the bird wet, but the feathers will dry faster if you soak up some of the excess liquid.

  5. Place the bird in a warm, draft-free room until completely dried. This is a good practice any time your bird is wet from bathing. Do not put newly coloured birds with other birds until dry, as the colour will rub off on other birds.

  6. Tip

    Wear a pair of latex gloves to prevent the colour from transferring to your hands. Gloves can be purchased at most chemists. Birds shake after a bath and will fling the colour. Choose an area that cannot be stained, such as a newspaper-lined table, tub or sink. The colour will not be permanent, but traces may remain until your bird undergoes a complete moult.

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Things You'll Need

  • Clean spray bottle
  • Food colouring
  • Paper towel

About the Author

Heather Thomas

Heather Thomas has written professionally since 2010. Her articles draw from a lifetime of experience in home education, business management and health and nutrition. Thomas is a member of Writer’s Village University and a moderator for their nonfiction study group.

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