Make a bird bath

Birds need somewhere to drink and they need to bathe to keep their feathers in great condition.  I noticed that with all the recent warm weather, the usual puddles in my garden that the birds use had all dried up. To make a bird bath, you just need (i) a shallow wide dish and (ii) something to raise your dish off the ground (to help guard against predators). Even the poshest birdbaths are little more than this:

Two bird baths available from the RSPB website. See how both are just a raised up shallow dish?

If you’ve got an an old terracotta saucer, or can get one when the garden centres open, these are ideal, as they’re heavy, wide, shallow, and let the birds get a good grip. You can also use old galvanised dustbin lids – they make a great wide shallow bath. Be creative but make sure your dish is shallow (1 or 2 inches is plenty) as song birds aren’t great swimmers, and if it rains hard enough, it’s going to fill to the brim. Slopy-sided dishes are best because they make it easy for birds to get in and out: if your dish doesn’t slope much at the edges, put a rock or some stones in it to make it easier for the birds.

To raise your shallow dish off the ground just stack plant pots. Old terracotta plant pots are ideal because they’re good and heavy so they won’t blow away. But if you’ve only plastic plant pots just fill them with rocks and stones to weigh them down.  You could also pile a few old bricks to raise your bird bath off the ground.

Once you’ve found the items that you need to build your bird bath, just pile everything on top of each other and then fill the dish with water. Birdwatch Ireland recommend that you change the water in bird baths daily to help prevent the spread of disease, and that you wash it thoroughly on a regular basis. After you’ve cleaned them be sure to rinse them really well and let them air dry before putting them back out. If you want to make your bird bath more stylish, you could paint the terracotta pots or bricks that are acting as the stand, but don’t paint the saucer because chemicals from the paint can leach into the water and harm the birds.

Published by Louise Allcock

Professor of Zoology at NUI Galway

2 thoughts on “Make a bird bath

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