Why would I want to use a bird bath?
Birds, like all animals, need a fresh source of water at all times. A bird bath will give the birds a place to drink and bathe, and may increase the number of birds that visit your backyard.
What type of bird bath do I need?
There are many types of bird baths available; however, most fall into two categories: heated and non-heated. Heated bird baths have a built-in heating element that will keep the water in the bath from completely freezing over during cold weather. Non-heated bird baths are simply shallow containers that can come in many shapes and sizes. While they do not contain heating elements, it is possible to use a bird bath deicer in conjunction with many non-heated baths during the colder months. If you live in an area that has colder winters, you may want to consider using a heated bird bath or a non-heated bird bath with a deicer.
What size bird bath do I need?
The size of the bird bath should depend on how many and what type of birds you want to attract. Bird baths can range from a small dish to a complex water garden complete with flowing streams and bathing pools. The smaller and more shallow the bird bath, the smaller and less varied the birds will be. However, a bird bath can be too deep for some birds. Smaller birds may not be able to use a bath with more than an inch of water depth. Some people find it beneficial to use a bird bath with a shallow edge and a deeper center. The smaller birds can use the outer part of the bath, while the large birds can move toward the center. The most common water depth in a backyard bird bath is 1.5" deep.
Where should I place my bird bath?
While a bird bath can be placed anywhere, many birds often prefer ones placed out in the open near shrubs or small trees. You can also place bird baths near your bird feeders, provided that the seed cannot fall into the bath. Also, there are many baths designed to mount on decks, windowsills, etc. If predators, such as cats, are an issue, place the bird bath away from any plants, buildings, etc. that may conceal the predator's presence. That will prevent the predator from having the element of surprise, and hopefully keep your birds safe from harm.
When should I put out my bird bath?
You will want to keep your bird bath out all year round, as birds that do not migrate will need a fresh source of water during the winter months. Note though that some bird baths are not constructed to withstand subfreezing conditions.
Should I clean my bird bath?
Bird baths should be cleaned when the water is changed, which is approximately every 2 to 4 days. During the summer months, the water will evaporate more quickly requiring more refills and possibly more cleanings. If there are a lot of feathers, droppings, or other debris in the bath, you will want to clean them out as soon as possible. Many people also experience algae growth in larger bird baths. Most often, this is symptom of not changing the water on a frequent basis or not cleaning the bird bath. Do not add harsh chemicals such as bleach to the bath to kill the algae. This will also harm the birds. There are water clarifiers available in most pet stores and pet departments; however, we still recommend frequent water changes and bath cleanings as a way to prevent algae growth. Typically, bird baths can be easily cleaned with a small scrub brush. For heavily soiled bird baths, you can use a mild detergent and a very small amount of bleach for cleaning. You will want to make sure that the bath is thoroughly rinsed afterwards, as birds are extremely sensitive to many chemicals.
How often should I replace the water?
Every 2 to 4 days depending on the outside temperature and the amount of debris in the bath.
Do I need a heated bird bath or a bird bath deicer?
If you live in an area in which the temperature drops below freezing for many days at a time, you may want to consider using a heated bird bath or a bird bath deicer. There are many types of heated baths and deicers, some of them more suitable for colder areas than others. Typically, the higher the wattage of the bath or deicer, the better it will perform in extremely cold temperatures. Remember that a heated bird bath or deicer is not designed to keep the entire bath ice free, but to heat the water enough to keep the water from completely icing over. Many baths and deicers are thermostatically controlled and only work when the water drops below a certain temperature. This feature is well worth considering if electricity usage is a concern.
Can I use a bird bath deicer with my existing plastic/metal/concrete bird bath?
Most deicers can safely be used with concrete or plastic bird baths. We do not recommend using them with metal baths, as the deicer can cause accelerated corrosion of the metal. Decorative baths, such as ones made of copper, are best to use during the warmer months. A plastic heated bird bath can be used as a winter alternative to a decorative bath.
I put out a bird bath, but no birds will use it. What can I do?
Birds are extremely selective when it comes to feeders and housing, and it can be the same for a bird bath. It may be as simple as you may live in an area that doesn't attract birds because of a lack of the plants or food they prefer. Conversely, you may live in an area that has too many flowers, shrubs, trees, or water sources that they like and are happy where they are currently feeding and bathing. Another major factor can be your water. If you are leaving water out too long, it may have become too dirty and the birds have moved to a different location. Clean your bird bath thoroughly, replace the water, and then move it to a new location. If you are not using a bird feeder, you may want to consider putting one up to further entice the birds to visit your backyard.