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Bird bath

Birds Guide

Bird bath

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Photo of a mockingbird taking a bath in a glass bowl bird bath.  The bottom of the bowl is partially filled with smooth pebbles in order to make it shallow enough for the birds.
Photo of a mockingbird taking a bath in a glass bowl bird bath. The bottom of the bowl is partially filled with smooth pebbles in order to make it shallow enough for the birds.

A bird bath is essentially a man-made puddle on a pedestal with a shallow basin filled with water for bathing and drinking. Used in combination with bird feeders and species-appropriate shrubs and trees, a bird bath is a powerful attraction for birds, especially during droughts.


Design and construction

Lorikeet-sized bird bath
Lorikeet-sized bird bath

The typical and traditional bird bath is made of molded concrete formed in two pieces, the bowl and the pedestal. The bowl has an indentation or socket in the base which allows it to fit over the pedestal. The pedestal is typically about one meter tall. Both bowl and pedestal are decorated with reliefs. The bowl may have a shell type of motif or a woodland rocky spring motif. The pedestal usually has a motif of vines or tree trunks. However, birds are also attracted to simpler designs, even a shallow plate or pie tin placed beneath a slowly dripping water faucet will welcome birds to your garden.

Bird baths can be made with other types of materials including glass, metal, plastics, mosaic tile, or any other material that can weather well and hold water. In addition to the standard shallow container of standing water, there are also bird baths which use a recirculating pump with filters possibly coupled to a water supply with an automatic valve which will keep the bird bath water cleaner and requires less day-to-day care. Some use a solar powered pump to recirculate the water.

A place to stand

An important feature of a bird bath that should be considered in designing one, is a place to perch, to avoid the risk of birds drowning. This requirement may be fulfilled simply by making the bowl or container part shallow enough to allow birds to perch in the water. Another way is to add a number of clean stones inside the bowl, to create places on which a bird might stand.

A safe feeling

Consideration should also be made to the issue of housecats or other predators, by placing the birdbath in a location where the birds can see the area around it, and where there are no hiding places for predators to lurk. This is one of the reasons birdbaths are customarily placed on pedestals.


A bird bath requires maintenance. Maintenance may be as simple as a daily quick wash and refill but it will depend on the bird bath materials. This is important because of the possible adverse health effects of birds drinking dirty water or water which may have become fouled with excrement. Fresh water is important. Concrete bird baths tend to become mossy and require an occasional scrubbing out.

Welcoming larger birds

Larger birds, such as the Canada goose, also enjoy baths. They may be accommodated well by large agricultural sprinklers in a field of stubble. The sight of several hundred or thousand large geese "playing in the sprinklers" can be a moving experience. Providing such a place for migratory birds, especially in urban and suburban areas devoid of wetlands is an excellent way of encouraging them to frequent an area. As wetlands become more scarce, steps such as these can be important conservation practices.

See also

Home | Up | Alektorophobia | Avian incubation | Bird abatement | Bird anatomy | Bird bath | Bird feeding | Bird flight | Bird intelligence | Nidification

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.