How to Select a Bird Bath© 2011 by TotallyBirds.com - All Rights Reserved
If there isn't enough available water in your area, a bird bath is an essential component for creating a bird habitat in your yard. Birds are attracted to water not only because they need it to survive, but also because it is a necessary component of the grooming habits for most birds.
Bird baths come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are also made out of a wide range of materials. Most of the common bird baths found in stores are made from either concrete, pottery, ceramics, glass, metal or a range of resin materials. Traditional antique bird baths were commonly carved from stone, but those are difficult to find today.
Select a bird bath with a design that complements your yard. A bird bath should look like it belongs in the yard, rather than an afterthought that was added. Choose a color and material that fits into your landscaping.
Keep in mind that some materials, such as concrete, pottery and ceramics may deteriorate if left out during the freeze-thaw cycles of a winter. Bird baths made from these materials are best stored in a shed or out of the weather during cold winters. Many newer bird baths are made from resin materials that simulate stone or concrete. Resin bird baths can generally be left out during the winter. Most bird baths that are ordered online will be made of resin or ceramic materials because concrete is too heavy to ship economically. Make sure that you understand the characteristics of the material before you make your purchase.
A bird bath needs to be at least 12 inches in diameter and should contain water at a depth of 1.5 to 3.0 inches. If you live in a hot and dry climate, the water in small bird baths will quickly evaporate, so a basin that holds a larger capacity of water is desirable.
If your winters are relatively mild, a heating element can be added to some types of bird baths in order to keep the water unfrozen for winter birds. However, this can be detrimental to birds if your winters are very cold and harsh. While local winter birds may enjoy the warmth of the spa you create with a heating element, the wet bird will eventually fly away and may freeze afterwards. Heating elements can be comforting if the temperature is in the upper 20s or low 30s fahrenheit, but can be harmful if the temperature dips to near zero or colder.
If you want to attract birds to your yard, a bird bath must be kept full of water and clean. Plan to spend a few minutes filling it up every morning. If any algae or other growths start to form, a good cleaning with a stiff nylon brush should remove the growths. Most problems with algae can be prevented simply by giving the bird bath basin a good blast with a garden hose every morning. Finish by filling it up with fresh water.
Bird baths attract not only birds, but also other wildlife such as squirrels. It is not uncommon to see squirrels leaping onto the rim to take a quick drink.