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Home > Birds > How to Bathe a Cockatiel in 3 Simple Steps

How to Bathe a Cockatiel in 3 Simple Steps

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Dr. Tabitha Henson

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In the wild, parrots of all kinds, including cockatiels, bathe themselves naturally. Some take baths in puddles of water, while others enjoy taking showers when it rains.

Bathing is an instinctive desire felt by cockatiels and other parrots. It helps loosen dirt on their feathers while making preening easier. Bathing also helps keep birds’ feathers in tip-top condition to help them avoid predators and fly with ease. Bathing also cuts down on feather dust1 that naturally builds up on bird feathers and ultimately makes a mess of their cage and other surrounding areas.

If you’re a cockatiel owner and wonder how to bathe your pet parrot, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk you through the simple steps it takes to give your cockatiel a proper bath.


Preparation Before Bath Time

An important thing to know is that all cockatiels aren’t alike when it comes to bathing. Some cockatiels like bathing directly in water, while others prefer misting or showering. Therefore, we’ll cover the three main ways to give cockatiels baths, so you’ll learn how to do each method.

Before bathing a cockatiel, you should ensure your bird’s wings are well-trimmed. This will prevent them from flying away from you if water scares them. You should also close all the windows of your home so your cockatiel can’t escape if they decide they don’t want to take a bath.

Different Ways to Bathe a Cockatiel

There are three different ways to bathe a cockatiel. One way to wash a cockatiel is to provide the bird with a water dish so they can clean themselves. Another way is to mist your bird using a spray bottle filled with water. The third way to bathe a cockatiel is to invite your bird in the shower when you’re taking your morning shower.

How to Know What Bathing Method to Use

Your bird’s personality and habits will tell you which bathing method suits your cockatiel, so pay close attention. For example, if your cockatiel tries getting in the shower with you, they would probably prefer to do it this way every time.

If your bird tends to follow you around while you’re misting your houseplants with water, they would probably prefer being misted instead of put in the shower. Or, your cockatiel may simply want to splash around in a container of water. Try to figure out which method your bird would prefer.

Now, let’s dive a little deeper and cover the steps involved with each of the three methods of bathing a cockatiel. This way, you’ll know how to do each method properly.


How to Bathe a Cockatiel (3 Simple Steps)

1. Bathing a Cockatiel Using a Dish of Water or Indoor Birdbat

If you see your bird trying to bathe in their water dish, they probably prefer taking a bath in a water dish or an indoor birdbath. If this is the case, the bathing process is simple.

You can either place an ordinary dish of plain tap water into your bird’s cage and let them wash up in the water, or you can buy a special cage-mounted birdbath that attaches to the exterior of your cage’s open door.

The cage-mounted birdbath option is the best method to use if you don’t want to clean up a wet and messy cage. This type of birdbath is fully enclosed and keeps the water inside the bath and out of your bird’s cage.

If you use the water dish or birdbath method, don’t leave the water in the cage after your bird has finished. Instead, remove the dish or birdbath, dump the water out, and clean the dish/bath so it’s ready for next time.

If you’re new to the wonderful world of cockatiels, you’ll need a great resource to help your birds thrive. We highly recommend taking a closer look at The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels, available on Amazon.

The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels

This excellent book covers everything from the history, color mutations, and anatomy of cockatiels to expert housing, feeding, breeding, and health care tips.

2. Bathing a Cockatiel With a Spray Bottle

Another easy way to bathe a cockatiel is to spray the bird with water.

First, remove your bird from their cage and take them to the bathroom or another place in your house where you don’t mind if water spills. Once you’ve moved your bird to the right place, mist your bird’s entire body with plain, lukewarm tap water.

Take your time when misting your bird. Continue spraying a light mist on your bird until they stop flapping their wings and preening themselves. They’ll often remove themselves from the immediate area when they’re done bathing. This is a sign that you can stop spraying.

3. Bathing a Cockatiel in the Shower

If you’ve noticed your pet cockatiel wants to follow you in the shower, they’re probably interested in cleaning themselves with the shower water. You can allow your cockatiel in the shower with you if you pick up a special shower bird perch. This product will instantly turn your shower into a safe, bird-approved rain shower similar to what your cockatiel would enjoy in the wild.

Place the shower perch on a shower wall that’s not too close to the stream of water. Your bird will still get wet from the mist and water that splashes as it hits the shower walls.

If your bird has never been in the shower, it may take time for them to get used to being on the perch. Be patient and encourage your bird to come in before you actually start your shower.

You can entice your bird to the shower perch using their favorite treat or sweet-talking them. Try not to make any loud noises or abrupt movements while showering. Also, keep your bird away from soaps, body washes, and shampoos because they may contain harmful ingredients that aren’t bird-friendly.


How Often to Bathe Your Cockatiel

Like other pet birds, Cockatiels should be offered a bath every day. However, many cockatiels will avoid the bath if they feel they don’t need one, while others will always want to bathe.

Leave the frequency of the bathing sessions up to your bird. If they want to bathe every day or several times a week, go ahead and accommodate them. If they only want to shower once a week, that’s fine too! Your bird will instinctively know when it’s time to bathe, so let them decide.

How to Dry Your Cockatiel After a Bath

Once your cockatiel has had a bath, place them back in its cage to sit on a perch and dry. They’ll most likely spend several minutes preening and fluffing their feathers. Just make sure the cage is placed in a warm room away from drafts.

It’s a wise idea to place the cage near a sunny window so your cockatiel can dry in the sun. It won’t take long for your cockatiel to dry after a bath, especially if sitting in the sun. Don’t forget to move the cage back to its original place out of direct sunlight so they don’t get too hot.



Cockatiels tend to love bathing, so it’s likely that your pet bird will enjoy taking several baths a week. Get to know your bird well to help figure out which bathing method they prefer.

Once you get into the habit, bathing will become second nature for you and your bird. Keep in mind that bath time should be enjoyable, so make it as stress-free and fun as possible.

Featured Image Credit: jlkramer, Pixabay

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