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How to Keep Bird Baths Thawed

How to Keep Bird Baths Thawed

Birds drink water all year, and it’s important to try to maintain a water source during the cold winter months. As a good bird host, you’ll need to pay special attention to keeping extra water sources unfrozen.

Here are some easy tips that will keep your wild birds’ water thawed:

1. Place your bird bath where it will receive a good dose of sunshine to keep it from icing over. You could also place it on the south side of the house and out of the wind.

2. If you plan to use a heater or pump, be sure to locate the bath near electricity.

3. Remember that you’ll need to walk to your bath to fill it when the snow is deep, so choose a spot with easy access. Garden hoses are out of the question in winter, and unless you have a water faucet next to your bath, you probably won’t enjoy trudging through deep snow toting a bucket of water.

4. Consider buying a bird bath with a built-in heater or, in somewhat milder climates, a built-in aerating pump.

5. You can simply fill your regular birdbath with hot water, if you don’t want to invest in a heater.

6. A black bird bath will warm up faster in the sun than lighter-colored baths.

7. You can also cover your bird bath at night with a piece of swimming-pool solar cover to help prevent heat loss.

8. Try using a moving float in your birdbath, such as a plastic milk jug tied to a rock for an anchor. The bobbing action will keep the water open in the same way a duck paddling atop icy water keeps the water from freezing.

9. If your winter weather conditions are extremely harsh, prevent the birds from bathing because their feathers might freeze before they can dry. Cover your birdbath with a plywood platform, with a small hole cut out for drinking, or place of section of pool liner or other cover over part of your bath to create a smaller opening. Add weights to the edges of the cover or tie it on securely so it won’t blow or flap in the wind.

Read more: Nature, Nature & Wildlife

Adapted from Natural Gardening for Birds by Julie Zickefoose and the Editors and Writers of Bird Watcher’s Digest (Rodale Press, 2001). Copyright (c) 2001 by Julie Zickefoose. Reprinted by permission of Rodale Press.
Adapted from Natural Gardening for Birds by Julie Zickefoose and the Editors and Writers of Bird Watcher's Digest (Rodale Press, 2001).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on anniebbond.com, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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Natural Gardening for Birds

The bird-friendly backyard; simple ways to create a bird haven.buy now

10 comments

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8:29AM PST on Feb 12, 2014

I have just noticed a few mistakes in this article. First of all, birds' feathers will never freeze over as they are water repellant. Secondly, they do get along in the winter and will even peck their way through ice and eat that to get water. They also bathe in the snow if necessary. Another source of water are drops falling from the trees (these can also be used for bathing). However, birds do appreciate open water in winter and will make use of bird baths often. Make sure your bird bath can withstand the cold and the heat as otherwise it might just crack. You will need a safe construction to prevent harm or fire but one bird lover placed a grave light underneath the bird bath and found that the water did not freeze over. The water must not become too hot, and animals should have no access to the fire. Continuously filling the bird bath with hot water yourself only lasts a limited amount of time and is usually unfeasible for people who have to go to work.

6:21AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

good tips

7:11AM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

Thanks for the info.

7:11AM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

3:13PM PST on Nov 9, 2011

thanks

9:27AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

Thank you

2:09PM PST on Jan 7, 2011

Good tips!

4:32AM PST on Dec 30, 2010

Thanks for the info.

3:14AM PST on Jan 31, 2008

My birdbath is under the air exchanger vent.I fill it up with snow which melts due the air coming out of the exchanger.
We are in South East Ontario. Dkers

7:48PM PDT on Sep 13, 2007

I provide water as well as food all year 'round. I on Long Island; so I use I bird bath heater. The birds really welcome it when the temps go below 32!

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