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12 Simple Tips to Attract Birds to Your Bird Bath (2024)

bird bath

Is your birdfeeder not attracting birds the way you had hoped? Fear not! There are many other ways to invite feathered visitors into your yard. One tried and true method for attracting birds of all kinds is installing a bird bath. From old-fashioned cement to high-tech heated fountains, bird baths provide a valuable resource and a comfortable gathering place for birds in your garden.

But installing a bird bath in your yard for the very first time doesn’t mean that you’ll become a birdie hotspot right away. It can take a long time for birds to get comfortable with a new object in their space. But with a bit of patience and a dew easy tricks, your bird bath will be attracting robins, sparrows, jays and more in no time.

Patience is a virtue, and it will certainly come in handy here, but let’s dive into some easy tips you can use to start attracting birds to your bath ASAP!

1. Tempt with moving water

Birds cannot resist the sound and sight of moving water. If you want to attract more of them to your bird bath, make it a spectacle! Moving water makes it obvious that your yard is the perfect place for a shower or a drink.

For this purpose, you can use a sprayer or a commercial dripper, or simply recycle a plastic container or bucket. Since birds love moving water, fountains can be a fun and attractive way to show them how great your yard is.

bird bath

Many manufacturers sell water pumps specifically designed to turn your bird bath into a fountain. These are often solar-powered, meaning that you can be hands-off and let the birds do the rest!

The best solar fountains are lightweight, easy to move ones. Pick something that you feel comfortable setting up and looks natural in your bird bath. Make sure it is secured safely and follow the manufacturers’ instructions so that the birds can enjoy your bath safely.

2. Create a private ‘hot tub’

Bird baths are a hotspot for birds all year-round. Keeping bird baths ice-free is essential to providing for their needs in the cool winter months. As birdfeeder enthusiasts know, winter is an overlooked season for birders. Sure, some of your favorite seasonal visitors might have gone south, but year-round resident birds will be looking for help surviving the cold. If you’ve got the goods, they’ll happily come visit.

Depending on the weather in your region, a regular old bird bath might work fine, maybe with some warm water mixed in from time to time. But if water is bound to freeze in just an hour or two, then you’ll need a heating mechanism to keep your bird bath from becoming an avian ice skating rink. Manufacturers now offer thermostatically controlled heated bird baths to keep your bird bath from freezing over even in frigid temperatures. 

bird bath

You can also find immersion heaters easily. While most heaters automatically plug off when the water dries up, it is still ideal for plugging in heaters with ground-fault interrupted circuits to prevent electric shocks. Once again, following the instructions carefully is a must to keep the birds in your yard safe.

You must also avoid using chemicals like antifreeze since it is poisonous for birds and animals. Glycerin is harmful as it saturates feathers, causing hypothermia.

Learning the do’s and don’ts of heating your bird bath boils down to a few simple rules: don’t give anything to the birds that you wouldn’t give to your own pets, don’t play fast and loose with electrical safety, and DO make sure you research any product you purchase.

3. The right location is the key

Like with deciding where to put a birdfeeder, there are plenty of factors to consider as you decide the best place in a yard for a bird bath. Birds tend to like locations that give them plenty of cover from predators as well as places to perch and view the scene. That said, keeping your bath clear of thick bushes and shrubs is also a good idea.

If you have a pet cat, we recommend keeping it inside so that it doesn’t become a menace to local wildlife. We love cats too, but a bird bath quickly becomes a buffet for a hungry housecat. But even if you don’t have your own outdoor feline, cats are everywhere and thick shrubs give them cover to attack birds without being spotted. Placing your bird bath a couple feet away from shrubs will help birds see Mittens coming.

bird bath

Another thing to consider is shade. Under direct sunlight, the water in your bird bath heats up quickly. A nice shady tree provides the perfect amount of cover and coolness to keep birds coming back to your garden.

4. Choose the right material

While the traditional concrete bird baths work well for almost all backyards, there are some fantastic alternatives available that might interest you. 

Concrete bird baths are absolutely beautiful, but they can crack when frozen and are difficult to clean.

bird bath

Depending on the bird, many species actually love a ground-floor bath, so a ceramic dish or even a trash can lid can make a lovely wading pool for your backyard visitors.

Of course, there are also plenty of ground-level bird baths specially designed to get the job done.

5. Encourage perching

Birds need perching spots. Many bird baths are too deep and not suited to the minute stature of songbirds. A bird bath should not be deeper than an inch or two ideally.

So if you have a deeper bird bath, you may need to add in a few rocks in the middle or the edges to give the birds a landing place to preen and splash. You can also add in stones or branches so that birds can safely drink without getting wet in freezing temperatures. As a bonus, these natural elements will help your bath look even more inviting to birds!

bird bath

Many bath basins are lined with glazed ceramic, which is appealing to look at, but can be very slippery. Check the surface for slipperiness before you leave it to the birds. A bird bath with a slippery bottom can be improved by adding gravel to the bottom to give birds’ feet some purchase.

You can even get creative with it and try hanging elements like gazebo bird feeders to help give your bird bath space plenty of perching spots.

6. Keep the depth reasonable

So we’re working backwards a bit here. We’ve already recommended some ideas for what to do if your bird bath is too deep, but before you get started, try choosing a nice shallow bath. Unless you’re aiming for more of a duck pond, your bird bath should really only be a wading pool and songbirds aren’t all that tall.

So how deep should a bird bath be? One to two inches of water is all it takes.

bird bath

The best bird bath is roughly this depth all around and won’t be deeper in the middle. As we mentioned above, a deeper bath is salvageable, but you’ll need some stones or branches for birds to stand on to stay out of the deep end.

7. Keep the bath out during ‘rush hour’

In times of increased activity like the migration times, it is best to place your bird bath out. Since bird baths are in high demand by some birds year round, you never really need to put it away. Just keep an ear open for recommendations from your local fish and wildlife department. Sometimes birds experience infectious disease seasons where we’re asked to help them stay safe by sanitizing or removing feeders and baths.

bird bath

A year round bird bath becomes a familiar landmark for your local birds, but it can also give you really cool opportunities to spot traveling migrants. Not all birds are attracted by suet and bird seeds, but everyone needs a drink now and then! With water, you can even lure birds like buntings, warblers, and tanagers to your yard if you’re lucky. I’ve even seen owls visit bird baths on special occasions!

The migration season is the peak time of bird movement, so this is when the finest guests may land at your place for water. Bird baths are guaranteed to increase the bird activity in your yard, place one alongside your houses and feeders to add even more appeal.

8. Keep your bird bath clean

Keeping your bird bath full during peak migration season ensures more bird activity. However, to offer safe and hygienic bathing and drinking source, it is necessary to replace the water with a fresh offering every one to two days depending on location and appearance. 

Bathing birds almost always leave behind feathers and dirty droppings, making the water unsanitary for other birds. And if you leave it for too long, standing water can become a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty harmful things. The last thing you want in your yard is more mosquitos.

bird bath

By regularly changing the water, you eliminate the possibility for the larvae to emerge or eggs to hatch. Keep the bath basin clean or feathers, leaves, insects, things, and other debris.

Changing the water every day will get you half way there, but how often should you clean a bird bath? And I mean really clean. If you’re keeping up on rinsing, then a weekly scrub with a vinegar-water solution should be more than enough to keep your water sparkling and your feathered friends happy and healthy.

9. Create a bird-friendly landscape

Attracting more birds to your bird bath means attracting more birds to your yard. Is your yard a bird-friendly space to begin with? Here are some things you can do to make your garden the songbird sanctuary of your dreams. Start by filling your yard with plants that birds love. Fruit trees and berries are a common favorite, and hummingbirds will be drawn to gardens with colorful flowers.


Birds won’t thrive in a yard that’s all lawn, so give them a designated space where the plants grow a little wild! Try to limit the use of pesticides in your yard as well, many pesticides are harmful to the songbirds that eat both the plants and the affected insects. Keep pets indoors and watch your yard come to life with song!

10. Install nestboxes

Wo doesn’t love a little free real estate? Attract more birds by installing bird houses in your yard as well. With a successful bird house, you can boost your backyard’s bird population and even help out with conservation. Just be sure not to allow invasive species like House Sparrows or European Starlings to take over (These guys are invasive in the United States, so if you’re reading from another part of the world make sure you do your research on invasive birds in your area).

To give your nest box the best chance of getting occupied during nesting season, put it up before February so that your local birds are comfortable with its presence by the time they start nesting. Nest boxes are meant to provide a secure and comfortable environment for your friends. It keeps them safe from extreme weather and predators.

bird house

To best do this, you should choose a spot that’s elevated and safe from predators to hang your nest box. If you’re hoping to house a specific species, look into the kinds of nest boxes that they prefer.

With a nest box, you not only provide a safe shelter for your favorite backyard visitors, but also attract birds to nest, lay eggs and bring up a family right in your backyard! Don’t also forget to install a bird feeder camera.

11. Provide shelter (essential)

Although we really do love cats, we’ve already mentioned that they are among the worst enemies of your favorite backyard birds. You don’t want to entice songbirds to your backyard just to have them fall prey to the hungry tomcat lurking around the bird bath. 

Birds tend to get heavier and slower as they bathe, which makes them easy prey for cats. To avoid this catastrophe, position your bird bath well away from the shrubbery or any object that could conceal a sneaky feline from your precious birds.

bird bath

You must specifically maintain a space of 10 to 15 feet between the bath and any concealable spot. The ideal option is to place the bath near a tree so that the birds can simply flap up should a cat pounce upon them. 

However, be aware that a bath placed directly underneath branches will probably need more frequent cleaning from leaves, seeds, and fruit. Keep an escape route in mind when you set up your bath to allow the birds to feel secure when bathing. A tall tree close by will make the birds feel at home and safe, without allowing a naughty stray cat to chow down on your visiting waxwings.

12. Keep your water fresh

The best thing you can do is to keep your bird bath clean and the water fresh. This is the finest way to attract a large number of feathered friends. 

It is imperative to include a water cleaning and changing routine in your daily yard duties. The act is simple but goes a long way in making your space more appealing and special for the beautiful birds. Plus, bonus, the more frequently you change the water the prettier your bath will be and the less you’ll have to scrub and clean it of grime.

bird bath

Like humans, birds, too, require clean and freshwater daily for bathing and drinking needs daily. Most birds drink water and bathe daily to clean off dirt and rid themselves of mites and other parasites. 

Providing fresh water daily ensures you have cleaned off the dirt from the previous bird activity and any risk of infection contaminating the water. Fresh water never fails to attract birds and will draw them in large numbers to your yard.

7 thoughts on “12 Simple Tips to Attract Birds to Your Bird Bath (2024)”

  1. Avatar

    If you haven’t placed these garden ornaments yet and are considering installing one, an important question arises: should a bird bath be in the sun or shade?

  2. Avatar

    Thanks for sharing useful information. Bird baths are aesthetically pleasing to have in your garden and provide birds in your yard a place to clean themselves and get a drink of water.

  3. Avatar

    We’ve enjoyed our old cement bird bath for years. It can hold up to 4″ of water but it doesn’t stay that way for long. We leave it in the same place, with a couple of large stones halfway out of the water. We freshen the water every day and clean it thoroughly 2 or 3 times a week. The many types of birds that visit are entertaining and a joy to watch. Thanks for the tips and reminders. During this heat wave, the bird bath is busy all day, from before the sun comes up to after it goes down.

  4. Avatar
    Nadene hinton-graves

    I’ve had a bird bath with a solar fountain and the birds have never came to it the water is always fresh, what am I doing wrong. It’s becoming frustrating!

    1. Avatar
      Waverly L Lassila

      I too purchased a Birdbath with a solar water float.
      Sadly the birds haven’t used it…. I’ve tried moving the bath around, changed the water amounts to a bubble, however this newer birdbath has to remain in the Sun for the solar float….so I’m returning this bird bath because of several reasons starting with it’s too non natural looking to me, the birdbath is plastic- great for cleaning daily -if the birds would even use it. Compared to a Cement Stone circle I picked up at a garage sale which has no more then 2” deep with a perfect rolled Rim, that the birds use to finish off their cleaning spa experience. I will be looking into adding a better suited water feature & more birdbaths as I’ve fallen in Love watching & listening to these wonderful lil beauties.

  5. Avatar

    I love my birds and found the drippers just cost too much. So, I made a Bird Bath Bubbler for them. Will birds still use it?

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    Patricia schneider

    Thank you very much. Much useful information here. I bought a bath that is off the ground. Will birds still use it?

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