Add a Bird Bath
to Your Wildlife Gardens

I want a bird bath, but I'm not sure what to look for or where to place it.

(A Bird Bath or some source of water is key to attracting many birds.)

When we owned and operated our wild bird specialty store, we heard this comment all the time.

There isn't a concrete answer, but there are some things you must look for when shopping for baths or water sources.

We have several water sources in our suburban yard.

They are stationed at various locations and fit various needs.

Your water source could be a plant saucer or an old pie pan.

We have a shallow basin sitting on the ground in a wide open space.

We also have several baths 2 to 3 feet off the ground positioned on their various pedestals or stands.

They all have one thing in common.

All of them are in the open and within 10 to 12 feet from protection.

Your bird bath and other water sources need to be placed in the open, yet near protection.

There shouldn't be any foliage under or near your bath where cats and snakes can hide.

Your water source should be within 10 feet of protection as well.

Wet birds are slow birds and feel a tad bit safer when they can bathe and preen in the safety of a tree branch or nearby shrub.

All but one of the bird baths are 2 inches deep or less. A true bird bath will be no deeper then 2 inches (songbirds can't swim).


So smaller birds that jump in or may slip, wont drown.

It happens all to often my friend, especially to juveniles that are not aware of their surroundings just yet.

short concrete bath Still, there is a small brick in the middle just in case.

All of our baths are made of concrete. They are heavy and less apt to get knocked over or break.

All of them have a coarse surface for the birds to hang onto with out slipping.

A shinny glaze is the cause of several bird accidents. (Think of stepping on wet ice when you aren't aware of it.)

Whatever your choice, be sure it is something you can keep clean and maintain fresh water.

Here are some basics to look for in your new bird bath.

Your new bath should be no deeper then 2 inches.

Look for a birdbath that has a coarse surface Stay away from shinny glazes,

deck mount bath

Your new bath should be of a neutral or earthy tone. Bright colors can keep birds from enjoying your offerings and attract predators.

Stay away from fancy designs, A bird bath is no place for cute.

Cute is difficult to keep clean and requires deeper cleaning more often as debris and algae settles in the cracks and crevasses.

Manufacturers and marketers are good. They want you to think and believe you need their products.

Doctor up a picture with all sorts of birds hanging around their product.

You might see a picture of a pretty bath and pedestal.

That nice sunflower shaped birdbath.

What about that pretty one with the designs etched on the inside of the bowl.

Pretty, but not nice.

Designs on the pedestal and outside of the bowl is great.

Keeping your bath clean shouldn't be a difficult task.

Maintaining your birdbath and how often you clean it will of course, depend on the time of year and how much use it gets.

I know in the spring and summer, there are days that keeping water in them can be a full time task.

Then others days there is little use.

It is so important to keep your water source clean.

Birds do their thing on land or at sea and that includes your birdbath.

This needs to be washed out daily and a bit of chlorine bleach doesn't hurt.

Mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant water.

By keeping your water fresh, this will never be an issue for you to be concerned with.

Water wigglers help with water movement. Not only does this keep skeeters from being a problem in your birdbath, it is a known fact that moving water attracts more birds.

On those hot summer days, algae can spring up over night.

The best thing to do here is put a couple caps full of chlorine bleach in the water at dusk.

By the next morning, the chlorine has oxidized and no harm is done.

"Works for me".

Before the Roman Empire, civilizations knew that copper helped keep water clean so it isn't a knew idea.

Copper will aid in slowing algae growth in your water sources.

By no means is this a substitute for cleaning, but it does aid in those sudden algae spurts.

I have found that 10 or more copper pennies dated pre 1982 (when pennies were all copper), does work in keeping algae down.

Pennies can also be lost or sprayed out of the bath.

Simply pick it up when cleaning and replace it.

No picking up pennies and no worries about pennies and lawn mowers.

I haven't tried Lavender sprigs, but I understand that is supposed to work.

Who has Lavender ready all the time and I would think that birds splashing and water damage to the plant material would make a mess.

I will have to try it some time.

Remember, there is no substitute for a good cleaning.

Birds and wildlife need water in the cold of winter as well.

Often, survival is a day to day proposition.

Offering water can help them to survive.

Eating snow drops the body temperature and more energy is used to bring it back up.

Energy needed to survive a cold night.

During the cold winter months, a heater is often needed to keep your water open for the birds.

Nelson's heater

Look for a heater that is thermostatically controlled so it only runs when needed.

A well designed heater will come with a 3 or 4 year guarantee, keep your bath open in subzero temps. and turn off when temperatures are above 40 degrees.

The Nelson heater (pictured)and other well manufactured heaters come with thermostat and guarantee.

I like that!

Solar Sippers are great if your temperatures remain above 20 degrees and you get enough sunshine for solar energy.

If not, stick with a good reliable heater.

If you don't use a heater, then make sure you empty your bath and store it or place it upside down outside.

Ceramics, clays and even your concrete bird bath will crack and often split from the ice expanding.

Now I know you don't want to buy a new one every spring.

By maintaining and taking care of your bird bath, you can have many years of good use from it.

Painting your bird bath

You may have purchased a bird bath a few years ago and now it looks a bit worse for wear.

Paint has faded and peeled away.

Weather extremes have that effect, but there is help.

Manufacturers use oil based paint (I've talked to a few companies) when they paint their products and you can too.

Oils and other things evaporate as the paint dries so there shouldn't be any worries for your feathered bathers.

If you are worried, use pool paint or a quality "Acrylic Latex based paint."

If you just purchased a plain concrete bath, you can paint it with any of these products.

To help keep your bath healthy, you may want to place it on a cement slab or patio bricks.

This aids in leveling your bath and also keep water from wicking up the base which in time may do harm and freezing can crack it when enough moisture soaks in.

Attract more birds with the sight and sound of moving water.

By adding a dripper to your birdbath, you can be sure of more action.

To find out more about water and water features, Bird baths and more, return to water main page.

The Right Feeders

Water Misters

Build Your Own Water Gardens

Choose the Right Bird Seed

Native Trees Attract Birds

Native Shrubs Provide Food, Shelter and Nesting

Bird houses and Nest Boxes

Share Your Passion, build a site like this one.

Birds, Butterflies, Gardens and more.

Sign up for your weekly "Gardening For Wildlife" newsletter today.

Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Gardening For Wildlife.
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.