Looking to attract birds to your backyard? There's perhaps no better (or prettier!) way to attract more birds to your outdoor space than with a properly-placed, carefully-selected bird bath.
In this article, we will help you learn how to entice a variety of birds to visit your home and garden. You'll discover the best bird bath to attract birds and how to make sure they actually come visit--and stay a while! We'll review exactly why birds like birdbaths, and whether add-ons like fountains and drippers are worth the cost. We'll clarify where to put a bird bath so that it is safe and fun. Finally, we'll show you some of our favorite birdbaths available for sale.
Ready to discover the best bird baths for attracting a variety of birds? Read on!
Why do birds like bird baths?
Birds love easy access to water for drinking and bathing, and birdbaths help make that possible.
First, about bathing. Birds don't bathe just for vanity! It's actually crucial grooming, as a good bath helps them keep their feathers in tip-top shape. When they bathe, it helps remove dirt from their feathers, making preening way easier.
(Preening, by the way, is when a bird uses his beak to properly reposition his feathers, clean any plumage and deal with any parasites. Preening also allows birds to distribute oil from the preen grand to waterproof their bodies and keep them insulated and warm.)
Second, about drinking. While they don't require as much water as mammals, birds need to hydrate, too. Birds that eat insects are able to get most of their water from their meals, but bird-seed eating birds will look for a water source to quench their thirst. Properly placing a birdbath with the right amount of water in the bowl allows these birds to do just that.
How to ensure your bird bath attracts birds
Here are some easy-to-follow tips that'll keep birds flocking to your birdbath year round!
1. Choose the right elevation
When staking your bird bath, keep in mind that the ideal height of a birdbath is relatively low. Ground-level or a foot or two off the ground is usually sufficient. However, if you have dogs or cats or toddlers, you may need to further elevate your birdbath to ensure everyone's safety.
2. Maintain a shallow water level
While you may enjoy soaking in a bubble bath that's about to overflow, your local feathered friends prefer a bath that's much more shallow. The water in your birdbath shouldn't exceed more than two inches. This height encourages wading, splashing, bathing and drinking.
If the bird bath you've selected is too deep, keep the water to 2 inches by adding a layer or stones or gravel to maintain a shallow basin.
3. Pick the correct location
When birds look for water sources, they have the same real estate wish list as humans: location, location, location.
The best birdbaths are shady, so birds can stay cool during hot summers. Plus, without shade, water gets too warm and evaporates, both of which can make a bird bath far less appealing to local flocks. A little bit of shade, whether natural or manmade, can attract more birds.
Keep your birdbath in a location that lends itself to easy cleaning.
Proximity to power is great, too. Having the option to connect to your home's electrical means you can add a pump to recirculate water, should you decide to add a fountain. Just make sure that whatever outlet you use has been outfitted with a ground fault interruptor, or GFI. This will erase the risk of electrical shock.
A couple of quick tips:
If you don't have power in your backyard or it's in the wrong location, look for safe, solar-powered options! Solar bird baths are easy to maintain and a cinch to set up.
If you're a fan of bird watching, you'll want to choose a place for your bird bath that's highly visible to you. For example, many people put birdbaths close to their kitchen window.
4. Upgrade your bird bath's footing
If you want to encourage birds to use your birdbath, the right details and finishing touches can make all the difference. While we've already mentioned that gravel and stone can help you maintain that perfect, two-inch water level, we didn't go into all the other reasons why the right footing makes such a big difference.
Think about your own bathroom. You (or whoever designed your bathroom) chose a tile or stone that keeps you safe and secure, even when you're soaking wet. You don't worry about slipping, or tripping, or falling. Well, birds feel safe when they know they're secure, too.
Gravel and stones create a pretty, non-slip surface that helps little feet get the grip they need.
5. Add a perch--and protection
The best bird baths are also accompanied by perches and protective covers.
Perches offer birds a great space to land, scan the area for danger, and then preen post-bath. You can place a perch right next to the bird bath, but not directly over it. (Why not directly over it? Well, bird poop!)
You'll also want to add a protective cover near (but not directly next to) the bird bath. This sheltered area will give your feathered friends an emergency retreat should they sense any danger during their bath.
6. Commit to a clean bird bath
Like a bird feeder or a bird house, a bird bath requires cleaning and maintenance that must be provided by the human installer. After all, it's unacceptable to allow birds to bathe and drink filthy water. Would you bathe in a bathtub full of dirt, debris, dead insects and bird poop? Nope. And neither do your local birds. They crave clean water, just like you!
To keep your bird bath clean, empty it often. Then, scrub away at any residue, including algae and other build-up. You may need to use an abrasive cleaner or even bleach to conduct a major cleaning, but it is essential you do so safely.
7. Have a plan for winter
Do you stop drinking water just because it's cold outside? Nope! Birds are the same. Even when the temperature drops below freezing, birds require water just the same. But ice-cold water isn't safe or pleasant for these tiny little creatures to drink.
To continue welcoming birds to your yard even in the winter months, consider adding a temperature-controlled water heater to your bird bath. This way, you can provide room-temperature water even as the temperature plummets.
A note on baths: Whether it's safe for birds to bathe when it's quite cold is controversial. Most reputable sources recommend covering up most of the bath bowl during the freezing winter to encourage drinking, but not bathing.
8. Add a fountain or other motion
Finally, one of the most attractive features you can add to your birdbath: a water fountain! Moving water is very enticing to birds, as they prefer it to still water. Whether you choose a mister, a dripper or a fountain is entirely up to you.
Plus, motion maintains a clean, insect-free water basin. If you dread cleaning your bird bath, adding a recirculating pump to your bird bath setup can save you a ton of time.
Where to purchase top bird baths
You can purchase a bird bath online, in-store or even at second-hand shops. At Happy Gardens, we offer a curated, excellent selection of bird baths big and small--plus fountains, bird feeders, bird houses and more. We also provide add-ons to create moving water features.
Our best-selling options include our two-tier bird bath, our hanging teal bird bath and our golden copper round bird bath. No matter which birdbath you choose for your garden, rest assured the one you select will bring chirp, charm and cheer to your yard for years to come!
You can also check out our article on bird bath ideas.
About Happy Gardens
Happy Gardens curates an online collection of unique, thoughtful garden decor and merchandise for your yard or outdoor space. Whether you've been searching high and low for a special birdbath, a unique wind chime or a charming rain chain, Happy Gardens has what you're looking for. After all, each product you'll find on our site has been carefully chosen by our brilliant, garden-loving team.
Our beloved collections include a remarkable variety of top-rated, beloved products including rain gauges, painted bird houses, funky wind chimes and cool garden ornaments and statues made from metal, stone and more. Plus, our new line of merchandise is bright, exciting, and great for gift-giving all year long. Find the best wine glasses, tote bags and mini planters for all the garden, bird and plant-lovers in your life.
Wanna learn more about our newest and coolest products? Get on our mailing list with your name & email address. Craving some good vibes (and tons of tips and tricks) to your news feed? For tons of garden inspiration and your daily dose of greenery, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.
We're always here to assist via chat if you'd like a hand picking out that perfect gift, redecorating your outdoor space or choosing the right bird house.