Adding one of these bird bath ideas to your garden is essential for the wellbeing of our feathered friends. Bathing loosens the dirt in the birds' feathers and makes it easier for them to preen – a process that enables them to maintain the health of their feathers, keep warm and to distribute the oil that keeps their feathers waterproof.
Whether you opt for a majestic stone structure or a more minimalist hanging design, bird bath ideas are a quick and simple way to incorporate more wildlife garden ideas into your plot.
‘Bird baths are one of my favorite recommendations for gardeners seeking to expand the variety and concentration of wildlife in their gardens,’ says Marc Parnell, author of The Birding Pro's Field Guides (opens in new tab). 'In fact, some home bird baths attract over 50 species each year.'
Bird bath ideas to add to your garden
Adding a bird bath is a great way to attract birds into your garden. With a vast array of bird bath ideas from which to choose, it will be easy to find the perfect style to complement your backyard ideas.
'Bird baths provide garden birds with fresh, clean water all year round. During the warmer months birds can struggle to find sources of water for drinking and bathing, so adding a bird bath to your garden will help them thrive,' explains Will Haxby, ornamental sales director at Haddonstone (opens in new tab). 'Likewise, during the fall and winter, birds still need water to survive, especially when ponds and streams are frozen over.' As well as providing water during the colder months, it is also important that you ensure you are feeding birds in winter as food is often scarce during this period.
1. Consider stone bird baths for a traditional and permanent feature
With a classic aesthetic, stone bird bath ideas are sure to create an elegant addition to your garden ideas, especially if you are channelling a more traditional look such as Georgian garden design or Victorian garden design.
Crafted from cast stone, this Baluster design from Haddonstone is frost-proof, meaning it can stay in your garden all year round and will age beautifully to blend into your garden scheme.
When considering stone bird bath ideas, it is worth noting that they are one of the heaviest options. While this is great if you live in an area that is prone to winds, the weight can make your bird bath more difficult to move and clean. If you are likely to need to move your bird bath then perhaps consider ceramic, which has a similar look to stone but carries a fraction of the weight.
2. Opt for a minimalist design
In recent years, there has been an increase in more minimalist bird bath ideas. Rather than your bird bath having to be a statement in its own right, these slimline designs, usually on a thin metal stand can easily be integrated into your borders or lawn. Metal and glass are popular materials for minimalist bird bath ideas and are fairly light-weight, making them easy to move and clean when necessary.
3. Consider the depth of your bird bath
When researching bird bath ideas, it is important to consider its depth. 'To allow different species to bathe safely, we advise between 1 and 4 inches deep,' says Claire Smith, director of product and partnerships from CJ Wildlife (opens in new tab). 'It’s also important that the bird bath has sloping sides or rough surfaces and perches for the birds to grip onto and not slip.'
Look for a bird bath with a gradated basin so that it incorporates both shallower and deeper areas, this will help different species to bathe. 'If selecting a deeper bird bath, make sure you add a few stones to the bottom to ensure smaller birds have somewhere to perch and can also get out easily,' continues Claire. Adding a few stones to the shallower parts of your bird bath will also provide bees and butterflies with a spot to land and drink.
4. Add a ground level bird bath
As well as considering bird bath ideas that are on stands, also think about adding a ground level bird bath to your garden.
'Ground level bird baths are great for ground feeding birds such as robins, blackbirds & thrushes, who prefer staying close to the ground. However, with the bird bath being on the ground comes the added risk of predators being able to threaten birds whilst they drink or clean themselves,' says Claire Smith. 'Pop your bird bath near an opening or corner where they have the best chance of flying away if they need to.'
5. Consider a statue with an integrated bird bath
Bird bath ideas aren't restricted to the classic saucer on a plinth design. In fact, there are lots of decorative designs that can suit a wide range of gardens. If you are looking for bird bath ideas that will add a focal point to your backyard, consider a statue that features an integrated bird bath.
6. Bird bath ideas with a fountain
Garden fountain ideas make for a beautiful addition to your garden decor, offering a soothing soundtrack to your space. However, they are also great for your feathered-friends. 'A central bubbling feature, if present, helps to prevent insects (and their larvae) from settling and congregating around the bath,' says Marc. They will also help to attract birds to your bird bath and can help to prevent the water from freezing in cooler temperatures.
7. Add a bird bath to your decking
Incorporating a bird bath into your patio ideas or deck ideas is a great way to make your garden more wildlife-friendly. There are plenty of different ways to add bird bath ideas onto your decking, porch or patio. If you are considering adding a freestanding bird bath, opt for a lightweight material such as metal or glass, as heavier stone designs could cause your decking to bend.
Alternatively, consider bird bath ideas that attach to your patio or porch balustrade or garden fence ideas. Featuring a clamp instead of a post, they can simply be attached onto the top of the fence, it is a great space-saving way of adding a bird bath to your garden.
8. Add a hanging bird bath to a small garden
Hanging bird baths are a great choice for small garden ideas as they don't occupy any of the limited floor space. Adding hanging bird bath ideas are also a good choice for the birds. Since the bird bath is nestled in a tree, the birds are covered while they bathe, making them less vulnerable to a surprise attack.
If you don't have any suitable trees in your garden, consider hanging a bird bath from a hanging basket bracket. Position in a shady spot and you'll soon have a flock of feathered friends coming to take advantage of their new spa facilities.
One thing to consider with hanging bird baths, as well as other bird bath ideas, is their placement. ‘Bird baths are best situated at least 25 feet away from any nearby windows. This helps to prevent bird-window strikes, which account for hundreds of millions of avian deaths at residential properties each year in the United States,' says Marc.
9. Consider a heated bird bath in winter
It is vital to provide a source of water for birds in every season. In summer, droughts can mean that water is scarce, while in winter, freezing temperatures can make water equally hard to come by. Opting for a bird bath with an integrated heater is a great way to ensure that it doesn't freeze. Alternatively, you can add a separate electronic de-icer to your bird bath ideas. However, both of these options will require electricity and this in turn will restrict the position of your bird bath.
Other ways to prevent your bird bath from freezing include adding a fountain or placing a tennis ball or apple in your bird bath – all of these methods make it more difficult for the ice to form a skin on the surface of the water.
During cold weather, be sure to check your bird bath regularly. If you find it is frozen over, simply defrost by pouring cool water over the surface. Avoid pouring hot water over the bird bath as the sudden change in temperature can cause the bird bath to crack. Also avoid the use of any chemical deicers as these can prove toxic to birds.
10. Keeping your bird bath clean
Regardless of which bird bath ideas you decide to add to your garden, keeping it clean is essential. 'Bird baths must be cleaned at least twice each week. Each basin must be completely emptied, scrubbed clean, soaked in a 1:10 bleach-to-water solution, and thoroughly rinsed before being refilled,' says Marc Parnell. 'If these tasks are not diligently completed, the bath can become a breeding ground for various avian diseases – defeating the original purpose of supporting local bird life.'
Should a bird bath be in the sun or shade?
Your bird bath should be in the shade as it will keep water fresher and cooler. It will also reduce the amount of evaporation and as such will mean that you don't have to keep refilling your bird bath multiple times each day.
'Bird baths should be located on a flat, even surface. They can be positioned on a patio, terrace, lawn or within a border, depending on your personal taste and available space. If you locate your bird bath under a tree you will need to remove any fallen leaves and branches from the water as these can decay and cause the water to become dirty,' recommends Will Haxby, ornamental sales director at Haddonstone.
Why are birds not coming to my bird bath?
There are many reasons why birds might not be coming to your bird bath.
Firstly consider the position of your bird bath. Bathing is a vulnerable time for birds as they are focused on preening rather than predators. Therefore, they will be more likely to visit a bird bath where they feel safe. Position your bird bath in a shady spot, close to trees and prickly bushes as these will offer a safe space for the birds to survey the scene before bathing.
It is also important to keep your bird bath clean and full, birds won't visit a dirty bird bath. You can also try adding a fountain to your bird bath ideas as this will make your bird bath more attractive to visiting birds who will be drawn to the sound and sight of the moving water.
Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.
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