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Offer a Bird Bath

Birds love bird baths so they are a great way to put out the welcome mat for your favorite wildlife species.

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Approximate Cost: Under $10, $10 to $100, Over $100
Duration: Over an hour
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  • Bird bath
  • Cleaning brush
  • Water (hose, faucet or watering can)
Buy or make a bird bath.

You can purchase a pre-made bird bath or make your own. Simple bird baths can be made from garbage-can lids placed on drainage pipe sections or flue pipes. You can also place large plant saucers or ceramic bowls on tree stumps, logs or on large plant pots (filled with soil for more stability). If you have an artistic nature or kids looking for a craft, painting ceramic plant pots is a fun activity.


Make your bath accessible to small birds.

To entice small birds to jump in, a bath should be no more than 3 inches deep. To allow birds to get a foothold while bathing, the interior surface should be textured. If you have a container that is a little too deep and too slippery, line the bottom with gravel or stones.

Set up your bath near shrubs or trees.

In order for birds to be attracted to your bird bath, they need a quick escape route if they sense a predator. The American Bird Conservancy says to set them up close to windows so that if a bird does take off and fly toward a window, they will not gather much speed before bouncing off the glass. Learn more about avoiding bird collisions in the tips on Decorating Your Windows.

Keep your bird bath ice-free in winter.

You can invest in an electric heater designed for the purpose (some shut off automatically during the higher day temperatures). If you have time to check your bird bath in the morning, you can move the bird baths into your garage until they melt and rotate them with baths filled with water.

Clean bird baths in warm weather.

In order to keep the water fresh and healthy for birds, you need to clean them regularly in summer. This involves scrubbing out any bird droppings and algae. It’s important to change standing water regularly also because you don’t want to provide mosquito breeding habitat.

Adapted from "To Winterize Your Yard for Wildlife, Provide a Reliable Source of Water" by Olwen Woodier in the February/March 1997 issue of National Wildlife.

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