Not all birdbaths are safe for birds. These tips show how to choose the right depth and style so the birds can bathe and drink safely in your garden.
If your bird bath is cracked or broken, see these ideas for turning it into a planter!
Good Reasons To Have A Bird Bath
- Birds need to drink water. Fresh, cool, clean water is best.
- Birds use water to clean their feathers and remove parasites.
- Bird baths are a decorative way to attract birds to our gardens.
- Some birds totally love a good bath.
Tips For A Safe Bird Bath
1Choose the Right Depth
Choose a bird bath that is sturdy, washable, and just 1-2″ deep.
- If you watch carefully you’ll notice that many birds don’t really bathe but instead find a secure place to stand and splash themselves with water.
- If a bird bath is too deep, the birds can drown. Ensure the bird bath has a gradual slope and secure places to stand without being submerged in the water. If your water is too deep, add bricks or rough stones to achieve a safe depth. Any surface the bird can stand on should be slightly rough so they can grip and not slip.
- Make sure there is also a place for birds to perch and drink without getting wet.
- Select a material that is easy to clean. Traditional concrete bird baths are often too deep, the porous surface encourges algae growth, and they tend to crack from temperature changes. I prefer a shallow dish with a lip the birds can grab with their feet.
2Choose a Safe Location
Locate the bird bath in shade, away from shrubs and bird feeders.
- The ideal bird bath mimics a shallow puddle but has clean, fresh water. Birds prefer to bathe at ground level but you can also have a bird bath on a stand up to 3 feet off the ground.
- Placing the bird bath in shade slows down evaporation and algae growth.
- Keep bird baths away from shrubs or dense flower beds where predators like cats may hide.
- Birds are territorial so it’s always smart to allow some distance between bird feeders as well as bird baths.
3Add Fresh Water Daily
Provide fresh water daily and keep the bowl clean and mold-free.
- Regular water changes and cleaning helps prevent the spread of disease between birds.
- Algae and other growth can be removed with diluted bleach (4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water for at least one minute) and repeated rinsing. Tough stains may be removed with a Magic Eraser (Amazon.com).
4Keep Water Moving
Running water is ideal.
- Gently moving water not only attracts bird, but helps prevent contamination in warm weather and freezing in the colder seasons.
- There are many options for immersion water pumps, drippers, and heaters using electricity, batteries, or solar power.
- I can’t recommend a specific one because the only thing I use is a floating heater in my pond (to keep if from freezing over).
Bird Bath Resources
- Many commercial bird baths are too deep to be safe. As mentioned, you can adapt them by adding bricks or stones so the water does not get more than 1-2″ deep. Also make sure you keep the base secure so it cannot tip over.
- Other options include making your own bird bath with a shallow serving dish or pot lid.
- I have a small garden pond and I built a sloping walkway into the pond (using bricks) for the birds and wildlife to access the water at whatever depth they like.
Attracting Wild Birds to Your Garden
- Avoid the use of any products toxic to birds and their food sources including caterpillars.
- Grow plants, trees and shrubs for habitat and be messy: dead and decaying things nourish life.
- Keep pets out of your garden.
- Choose plants that provide food, nectar, or habitat for other living things.
- Birdhouses: Use as decoration only.
- Nesting Boxes: Choose species-specific designs.
- Bird Feed: Provide nutritious food.
- Bird Feeders: Clean frequently. Remove feeders immediately if you notice any sign of disease or problems like salmonella, trichomoniasis, aspergillosis, or avian pox are reported in your area.
TIP: Use a motion-sensitive wildlife camera in your garden to see what goes on when you’re not there.
Here are some favorite moments from my backyard birdfeeders:
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛