Bird Baths Guide (Types + Tips & Advice)

Bird baths guide

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There are more than 1120 species of birds in the USA, and while you might not be able to attract all of them to your yard, you can certainly attract a fair amount.

If you are looking to bring birdlife to your backdoor, then you will need to create a welcoming environment. Part of this is ensuring that the birds have access to water. You don’t need a huge garden pond or water feature, something as simple as a bird bath is more than enough. Here’s our guide on everything you need to know.

What is the Purpose of a Bird Bath for Birds?

What is the purpose of a bird bath for birds?

Just like humans, birds need water for several reasons. If you are looking to attract bird species to your garden then it goes without saying that you’ll need a viable water source. But what exactly will the birds use this for? Birds need easy access to water primarily for drinking and bathing.


Birds will bathe to keep themselves clean but it’s not just for aesthetic purposes. When a bird’s feathers are laden with dirt, it’s much harder for the bird to preen itself. Again, this isn’t just to keep the bird looking good because preening helps to keep their feathers in the best condition which can aid insulation and water resistance.


Birds don’t need as much water for drinking as you and I, but that’s not to say that they don’t need any. Putting a bird bath out will ensure that your feathered friends can stay hydrated. You’ll find that meat-eating birds who feed on insects don’t need much supplemental water since they get most of it from their food. However, seed-eating birds will need additional water and your bird bath can provide that.

Types of Bird Baths

Bird bath types

It’s really important to choose the right type of bird bath as this will ensure that local wildlife has exactly what it needs. It’s worth checking out which birds are found nearby as this will help you to make the best choice. Here are some of the most common types of bird baths.

Hanging Bird Bath

If you have a smaller garden or patio then a hanging bird bath will allow you to attract birds without taking up space in the garden. They can be suspended from a roof, tree, or other structures and are often a lot smaller than other types.

That said, it does pay to remember that hanging bird baths can sometimes swing around and this means the water will drop out. What’s more, because of their smaller size, not as many birds can use them at once.

Pedestal Bird Bath

Most people opt for a pedestal bird bath and what’s great about them is that they’re away from the ground so predators will find it more difficult to get to the birds.

A pedestal bird bath, as the name suggests, consists of a pedestal with the bath on the top. They come in a range of sizes.

Ground Bird Bath

Ground bird baths are, as you might guess, placed on the ground. While you can buy purpose-made ground bird baths, you can also use something as simple as a large bowl or upturned garbage can lid and fill it with water.

While the birds will be at risk of being attacked by ground predators, these bird baths mimic natural water sources like ponds and streams and are often known to attract larger birds.

Deck-Mounted Bird Bath

A deck-mounted bird bath fixes to your deck which is great if you’re looking to observe birds close up. You’ll also have much easier access to the bird bath for cleaning and refilling which always makes life easier.

Heated Bird Bath

It’s super important to avoid allowing the bird bath to freeze over in winter. Birds need to be kept warm in very cold climates and a heated bird bath can help with that. These bird baths are fitted with heating elements to keep the water above freezing.

What is the Best Material for a Bird Bath?

What is the best material for a bird bath?

If you purchase a bird bath, you will notice that there is a vast choice in terms of material. However, there are pros and cons to each so it’s important to weigh these up in order to choose the right one.


Stone bird baths are common on a lawn or patio and this is often the material used for pedestal bird baths.


  • Durable and sturdy
  • Vast choice of aesthetics including classic and modern styles
  • Stands up to cold temperatures without cracking
  • Textured which gives the birds better grip


  • Normally are quite large
  • Need to be secured as they usually come in two parts and could be knocked over
  • More difficult to clean
  • When placed on a soft surface, the bird bath may sink so you’ll need something underneath to reinforce the ground


Ceramic is a common material that can be sculpted into many different styles.


  • Sturdy and durable
  • Much easier to clean and maintain than stone or concrete


  • Could be damaged by water if the ceramic is not properly sealed
  • Heavy


You don’t see quite as many glass bird baths but they are out there. When you do find them, you’ll notice how ornate they are so they’re ideal if you want something a little fancier in your garden. However, looks aside, this material has one too many downsides for our liking.


  • More ornate styles available


  • Not as sturdy as ceramic or stone.
  • Lightweight and can be easily knocked over
  • Birds can’t get a good grip on the material
  • Glass bird baths are often too deep
  • Prone to damage from cold weather


Plastic is a very common material that’s durable and lightweight. You’ll also find that bird baths made from plastic are a lot more affordable, which is one of the reasons they’re such a popular choice. Aside from plastic, you can also get fiberglass and resin bird baths.


  • Keeps it’s color
  • Durable
  • Can be used with a bird bath heater
  • Not prone to cracking in cold weather


  • Not as sturdy but can be reinforced with stones on lower levels
  • Some plastic bird baths come with a metal coating but there is a risk of peeling with this


You can buy cast iron or cast aluminum bird baths.


  • Very durable
  • Great for use as a heated birdbath
  • Frostproof so great for use in winter


  • Can get hot in summer so birds may burn their feet

Where to Place a Bird Bath?

Where to place a bird bath?

You can’t just put a bird bath anywhere in your garden and expect the birds to come flocking. For the best results and happy birds, you need to choose the perfect location. Here are some tips on finding the best place for your bird bath.

1. Position in a Shady Spot

Birds are prey to a lot of different animals and when they’re bathing and drinking, they need the security of cover. But not only does this cover protect them from predators, but it will also protect them from the harsh rays of the sun. Your avian allies will thank you for some relief on a hot day.

What’s more, when you place the bird bath in direct sunlight, this can cause the water to evaporate more quickly. As well as this, the sun will encourage algae growth and insects to lay their eggs meaning you’ll have to clean the bird bath more frequently.

2. Ensure there is a Clear Line of Sight

You’ll need to place the bird bath somewhere that the birds can actually spot it. Of course, this shouldn’t come at the cost of cover, but choose somewhere that the birds will be able to see the bird bath from nearby trees and when they’re flying overhead.

3. Place Near to Shrubs & Bushes

As we touched on earlier, birds are sought out by many predators especially when they are otherwise occupied with things like drinking and bathing.

This is why it’s important to offer cover from trees and shrubs so that the birds are concealed from potential predators. Of course, they may still spot them, but by making sure there is a clear escape route, you are offering further safety to the birds.

The birds will need to have a clear view of their surroundings so they stand the best chance of spotting a predator should it come near. Make sure that there are no visual obstructions. If the birds feel safe, they’re more likely to return time and again.

4. Avoid Placing Near to Windows

While it can be tempting to place the bird bath near your home where you can watch the birds, this could cause an accident. Did you know that as many as a billion birds die each year as a result of colliding with a window?

If you have to place the bird bath near a window, make sure that you make the window obvious to birds by using things like paint, decals, and tape.

5. Don’t Position Directly Under Bird Feeders or Trees

While the bird bath does require tree cover, that doesn’t mean you should put it directly under a tree. Nor should you place it underneath a bird feeder or other such items.

The main reason for this is that when there is something hanging overhead, dirt, debris, and other nasties will fall into the bird bath meaning it’ll get dirtier quicker. Things like animal droppings, leaves, pollen, and food may all fall in, and if the bird bath isn’t well maintained, it won’t take long before bacteria and mold begin to thrive.

How Deep Should a Bird Bath Be?

How deep should a bird bath be?

Most birds that are attracted to your bird bath will be relatively small and unable to swim. This means that your bird bath should be no deeper than two inches. Not only is it more dangerous but birds won’t be as attracted to the bath as they prefer to bathe and drink from shallow water.

If you buy a deeper bird bath then there is the option to place stones and rocks at the bottom to raise the floor and make it shallower for small birds.

Also, consider that should the bird bath have very steep sides, you may also wish to layer stones to make it safer.

How to Keep Bird Bath Water from Freezing

How to keep bird bath water from freezing

The last thing you want is for your bird bath to freeze over but this is a very real risk. If this happens then the birds won’t have as easy access to water at a time when it is already scarce. But they’re determined little creatures and will peck through the ice which only expends precious energy.

What’s more, certain bird bath materials, like stone, are prone to cracking when the water freezes. If you’ve made a decent investment in your bird bath, this is not something you’ll want.

Make it easier for the birds by installing a bird bath heater or buying a heated bird bath. This will keep the water above freezing and ideal through winter or in colder climates.

If you don’t want to buy a heater then you can simply pop a tennis ball into the water and this should prevent it from freezing over.

While it can be tempting to use a chemical product such as antifreeze, this is a big no-no. If the birds ingest it, it will seriously harm or even kill them as antifreeze is toxic to most living things.

How to Clean a Bird Bath

How to clean a bird bath

You will need to keep your bird bath clean to avoid a build-up of algae, mold, bacteria, and other nasties. It is possible to buy a bird bath with a fountain or pump which is great for keeping the water moving and preventing it from stagnating.

However, regardless of this, you’re still going to need to clean it from time to time. To do this, the best thing you can use is a solution of bleach and water. Scrub the bird bath to remove any stains and make sure that you fully rinse it before refilling it for your feathered friends.

While a weak solution of bleach will be OK for cleaning your bird bath, it’s important not to use any other chemicals near it such as pesticides or herbicides as these can be toxic to the birds.

Frequently Asked Questions

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