Working for the Weekend: Birdbath Tips

Jill Staake

Don’t have a birdbath? You probably should. Birds use them for drinking water as well as bathing to stay clean and cool. Plus, birds that won’t visit a feeder will visit a birdbath, so it can draw a wider variety of birds to your yard. Here are some tips for making the most of a birdbath:

Photo courtesy

Click the image to learn how to make this birdbath yourself!

  • Birdbaths should be shallow rather than deep. A good rule of thumb is no more than 3 inches deep. A graduated edge is good, too, so birds can ease their way in to a level that’s comfortable for them.
  • Avoid an overly slick surface for the bowl. Just like you in the bathtub, birds don’t want to feel like they might slip. Textured concrete is preferable to smooth glass. Also, be sure the birdbath is stable – birds will probably avoid it if it’s wobbly.
  • Keep the water moving when possible. This is much more attractive to birds, and also helps keep the water cleaner. (Mosquitoes won’t lay on moving water, and algae is slower to grow.)

Another DIY birdbath idea - click the image for details.

  • Birds like cooler water in the summer, so don’t be afraid to place your birdbath in the shade of a tree. In fact, this may encourage birds to use it, as they have an easy place to escape to if they feel threatened. However, avoid placing it too near shrubbery or heavy overgrowth where predators such as neighborhood cats can hide.

What tips do you have for drawing birds to a birdbath? Any tips that Southeastern gardeners might especially benefit from? Drop by the comments below and give us your two cents!

Every Thursday, the Working for the Weekend segment highlights a project or job for Southeastern gardeners to tackle in the weekend ahead. Know of a project you’d like to see featured here, or a garden chore you’d like some help with? Make your suggestions in the comments section below.

  1. Danielle says

    Jill, these are great tips for birdbaths! I happen to like the birdbaths that attach to your outside deck; that way I can see the birds from any window in the kitchen.

  2. Cheryl says

    Although many birdbaths are made on a pedestal, birds prefer a bath on the ground. This also allows better awareness of predators.

  3. Mary Benko says

    To clean a birdbath, I pour out the dirty water, then scrub it with a stiff brush. Rinse the bath with a power shot of hose water. Then fill with water and pour some bleach in it, maybe a half cup – I just pour. Put a trash can lid over it or cover it with something so the birds won’t try to drink the water. Leave it several hours or overnight. Presto – you have a sparking clean birdbath. Be sure to pour the chlorinated water out & refill. I do this whenever the algae growth covers the bottom or sides of the birdbath.
    Usually I scrub the bath & rinse it out, but go through the bleach process when needed.

  4. says

    I use a old plow disk, It’s perfect, the birds, seem to love it. I have to use a stiff brush,to clean, as it’s iron. Sometimes I hook up, a sprayer,the kind you use on a garden hose, I set it for a fine mist, then sit back and watch the birds, let the mist , drift over them, I’ll have 8to 10 birds , at once, they seems to wait their turn, But, with my water bill being very high, I have to limited, the time.But, it’s fun, the birds and I love it.

  5. says

    My 15 year old grand daughter made the birdbath with an elephant ear leaf. It was great fun for her and made a delightful addition to her garden.

  6. Kathy says

    I purchase a new birdbath this summer and regretably it is too deep. I’ve lined the bottom with some large, smooth rocks and this seems to have solved the problem. However, I need to be careful to clean the rocks when I change the water. Wish I had made a better selection but this seems to be working for now.

  7. Lisa McM says

    I have several birdbaths in different parts of my yard. One is very deep so I keep a stepping stone in the bottom and the birds seem to like it just fine now. I try to keep the baths in the shade and close to the feeders, it is so much fun to watch the birds splash all the water around. squirrels come to the water for a drink too, so I have to fill them often. I clean them with a little bleach and a wheel brush, swish it good and rinse well. It stays clean about a week or so.

  8. Janet Parker says

    I used an old satellite dish that was very large around and deep in the middle. I used a concrete paving stone in the middle. The birds really enjoyed it. Birds of all sizes and kinds. Since then I have moved and have to start all over again looking for just the right one.


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