Things Everyone Should Know About Bird Baths
Everyone knows that birds like to sing, fly and eat but bathe? If you want a garden filled with the sights and sounds of happy garden birds then a bird bathe is the next thing to invest in after a bird feeder. Because y’know what? Birds love to bathe.
What are bird baths for?
While scientists aren’t quite sure exactly why birds need to bathe, it’s undeniable that they love to do so. Anyone who’s witness a bird taking a bath will remember the splashing, the washing and smoothing of feathers and the stop start motion as they wash, look around, wash, look around.
There are some interesting theories about the necessary nature of bird bath times and one such theory is improved flight performance when feathers are cleaned. Feathers are replaced around once a year but take huge amounts of wear during that time and must be taken care of.
Bird baths also provide drinking water which is especially useful in the height of summer when it’s hot and the dead of winter where other sources may be frozen over. How to stop your birth bath freezing? Pour warm water into it (not hot!) and watch as the birds scramble to bathe and drink.
Whatever reasons draw garden birds to bird baths, it’s clear that they love them and a bird bath is a great addition to any garden. Not only does it provide a much needed place for birds to bathe and drink, but it also provides you with hours of amusement watching them splash and frolic.
Types of bird bath
If you have a bird feeding station, it may come with a bird bath like that on the Gardman Deluxe Bird Feeding Station. These are great for small birds but larger birds like blackbirds and even pigeons like to visit bird baths and a more solid bath is a good idea.
Typical bird baths are either stone or ceramic and there’s a good reason for this. Firstly, they’re solid and sturdy and can take the splashing of even large birds and secondly, they are often carved or cast with patterns to be more aesthetically pleasing. Stone and ceramic bird baths can also take a lot more wear and are waterproof. Most are also freestanding.
Things to consider when looking at bird baths
Birds get very distracted when it comes to bathing and they become very absorbed in the act of flicking water over themselves and preening their feathers. Although they do often look up and check they’re safe, they’re still at one of their most vulnerable times when in a bird bath.
- Keep in a clear area: It’s imperative that you place the bird bath away from places cats can hide or jump from. The best place is in the middle of an open lawn or at least somewhere with a reasonable clear area around it; this means birds can see anything coming from a distance and have time to fly away.
- Elevation: Bird baths should also ideally be elevated on a podium and stone bird baths are classic examples of this. Often with heavy bases, stone bird baths are frequently around three foot off the ground and offer good protection and visual signals from cats.
- Able to survive freezing: Ceramic bird baths should be fired and glazed in order to survive water freezing inside of them and all bird baths should have grippy rims so birds can stand safely. Glass bird feeders should also be designed to survive freezing.
- Graduated depth: Your new bird bath will attract all sorts of birds from tiny wrens to collared doves and as a result you need it to be shallow and deep enough for all. Birds don’t submerge themselves and can easily drown in deep water – say, a water butt or raincatcher – so you don’t need a deep bird bath. It must be shallow enough for the tiniest birds to stand safely and two inches of water at the deepest point is sufficient.
- Fresh water: Bird baths should contain both freshwater and only fresh water! Don’t leave water for weeks at a time otherwise it will grow algae and become a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes. To stay clean, birds need clean water. While some people happily change the water every few days or simply let the rain fill it and the sun dry it away, you can also get pump-systems integrated into baths. Some are even solar-powered and circulate water. A great reason to do this? Birds keep an ear out for the sounds of running water and will soon come to see what’s happening if they hear water moving.
Heated bird baths
If you live in an area that freezes in winter, you might want to consider a heated bird bath. Birds find winters extremely cold, so cold that wrens in particular seek each other out and huddle together to stay warm in large numbers! Providing a safe place to drink and bathe in fresh warm water truly transforms garden birds’ winters.
Best Bird Bath Bargain
RSPB Bronze Bird BathRSPB Bronze Bird Bath
If you’re looking for a bird bath but don’t want to spend lots of money on something you’re not sure off then the RSPB Bronze Bird Bath is a good starting point.
Very affordable with the profits going into the charity, the RSPB Bronze Bird Bath has a graduated, shallow dish for keeping all sorts of birds clean as well as safe. Durable, weatherproof and easy to clean, this bird bath looks classic but remains lightweight for you to move it easily. The guys at the RSPB even supply it with ground pegs to ensure its stability.
Assembly is very easy and while it’s made of resin, it looks exactly like full bronze metal. I’m a huge fan of this bird bath and it’s the best way to look after your garden birds without committing to the higher prices of stone bird baths.