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 birdbath is cracked or broken, see these ideas for turning it into a planter!
Good Reasons To Have A Birdbath
- Birds need to drink water. Fresh, cool, clean water is best.
- Birds use water to clean their feathers and remove parasites.
- Birdbaths are a decorative way to attract birds to our gardens.
- Some birds totally love a good bath.
Wild Bird Safety Note
During outbreaks of the highly pathogenic diseases including avian influenza, it is strongly recommended to remove bird feeders and cease any hand-feeding. This may help reduce transmission rates amongst our wild bird populations.
Ongoing, feeders should be cleaned frequently with a bleach solution and remove any debris from ground around feeders.
Tips For A Safe Birdbath
1Choose the Right Depth
Choose a birdbath 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 birdbath is too deep, the birds can drown. Ensure the birdbath 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 birdbaths 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 birdbath in shade, away from shrubs and bird feeders.
- The ideal birdbath mimics a shallow puddle but has clean, fresh water. Birds prefer to bathe at ground level but you can also have a birdbath on a stand up to 3 feet off the ground.
- Placing the birdbath in shade slows down evaporation and algae growth.
- Keep birdbaths 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 birdbaths.
3Add Fresh Water Daily
Provide fresh water daily and keep the bowl clean and mold-free.
- Regular water changes, cleaning and disinfecting help prevent the spread of disease between birds.
- These instructions for cleaning bird feeders can be used for birdbaths as well. 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 de-icer/ heater in my pond (to keep if from freezing over).
- Many commercial birdbaths 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 birdbath 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.
Here are some favorite moments from my backyard birdfeeders:
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
Attracting Wild Birds to Your Garden
Just like us, birds need food and shelter.
- Grow a diverse selection of plants including flowers, trees and shrubs that support the web of life.
- Grow bugs. Many bird species eat a lot of insects and other invertebrates.
- An eco-beneficial garden is a “messy” garden: dead and decaying things nourish life.
- Provide fresh water. Puddles and ponds both help.
- Avoid the use of any products toxic to birds and their food sources including caterpillars.
- Keep pets out of your garden.
- Decorative birdhouses are not safe for birds.
- Use nesting boxes intended to safely house specific bird species.
- If using feeders, provide clean fresh water and the right types of seed.
- Clean bird feeders 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 wildlife camera with a motion sensor in your garden to get a candid look at life in your garden.