How to Bathe Your Bird

Bathing your bird at least once a week is crucial for good health.

Nearly all birds love water and, unlike other pets, actually enjoy taking baths. Bathing not only removes debris but also helps to maintain skin moisture. Your bird’s species and size will help determine her preferred method of bathing, but it also might take some trial and error.

Bath time for small birds.

For smaller birds such as canaries, finches, parakeets, and lovebirds, in-cage bathing methods can be used, including the following:

  • Bird bath. Fill a shallow, heavy bowl with water 1-2 inches deep — no deeper than the height of your bird. Your bird will bathe herself. Be sure to remove the bath when she is done and clean up any splashed water or wet bedding to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Cage-mounted bath. These specially designed baths are attached to the side of the cage. One benefit is that the floor for this cage type does not get as wet as the bowl bath. This depends, of course, on the energy level of your bathing bird.

Bath time for large birds

Larger birds tend to bathe out-of-cage. Some common methods to try include:

  • Misting. Some birds take pleasure in a daily shower with a water-bottle mister. Use lukewarm water and never spray your bird directly in the face.
  • Shower perch. You can buy a bathing perch for your bird that will fit into your own shower. As mentioned above, most birds prefer a gentle, lukewarm spray of water.
  • Kitchen sink. Your sink or bathtub will serve as a make-shift bird bath. Fill it with lukewarm water, no higher than your bird, to entice her to splash and bathe herself as she would in more natural surroundings.

Other bathing tips

  • Do not use soap — it can strip your bird's feathers of essential oils.
  • Clean and rinse sinks well before using them to bathe your bird. Residual fumes and germs could harm your pet.
  • Conversely, to protect you and your family, clean the bath area after your bird is finished.
  • Lastly, during bath time, always make certain your pet is kept out of drafts and is comfortable while drying. Those feathers are helpful, but even birds like a little extra warmth when they're done with their bath.