I often see wild birds bathing in small pools. I don't recall ever seeing a bird cage with a bath in it.

Do pet birds need (or want) to have a water bath?

Question inspired by How to help (wild) birds with water?

3 Answers 3


That does totally depend on the bird!
"pet bird" covers basically everything from macaw over pigeons to zebra finches, all of which have vastly different needs.
So, always check the needs of your kind of bird.

PS: For birds that do like to water-bath: Some may like water bowl, some may like to shower. If you have a bird, you should take that preference into consideration, too. And I found this great example of a birdbath...

Beutiful birdbath

  • Is it possible to generalize an answer? (I have no Idea) Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 12:29
  • 2
    Not really... you could just as well ask "What to feed my pet reptilian" There is no general answer except "feed it what the species eats". If the bird needs water for bathing, it should have a water-bath. If it is a sand-bather, you provide clean bathing-sand.
    – Layna
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 12:48
  • Do some birds not need baths (sand or water)? Should I expect that what ever kind of bird it should need either a sand or water bath. Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 14:41
  • @JamesJenkins You're trying really hard to get a one-size-fits-all answer and there isn't one. As the other posts have said, some birds do not need baths, some birds need sand baths, some birds need water baths, and heck, some birds like both.
    – rlb.usa
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 19:01
  • @rlb.usa Just trying to understand, With mammals you can make some pretty generally statements about bathing, animals that are self grooming like cats and rabbits can go their whole life without a bath. Pasture herbivores like horses and cattle like to have a sand bath, Out side influences may impact the need for a bath, but generally statements about categories of mammals can be made. Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 23:51

A good question, and a good reminder to those who have pet birds. All birds need to bathe in order to maintain their feathers in good order and to discourage parasites. All passerine (often called 'songbirds', but it includes, among others, ravens) birds will bathe in water and some also bathe in dust. All psittacines (parrots, etc.) bathe in water. Columbiformes (doves, etc.) and galliformes (game birds) bathe in water and bathe in dust.

Methods of water bathing vary. Hummingbirds and cockatiels, for example, like to bathe in a mist or spray of water. At the other extreme, Estrildid finches (such as Java rice finches) practically need snorkels because they love to get completely submerged in water. (My cockatiels hang from my Java finch cages when the Javas are bathing, so that they can get the spray from the Java baths.) Many rain-forest psittacines rub themselves on wet leaves. (Hence, my green-cheeked conure will do a bee-like waggle dance in a water dish and then rub himself all over my shirt.) For folks who have pete birds (or rescued birds) it's good to consult a reference work for the species involved to find out their preferred bathing methods in the wild.

Many people who keep birds put a bath dish into their cage once a day to let them bath. For those who have forgotten, or who didn't know that this is important to the birds, your question is a good reminder. Keep up the good work.


It depends on the bird's species, some species prefer water, other prefer to use sand/dirt/dust to keep their skin/feathers clean. The answer is that there's no general answer. You must research for the specific species you own.

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