Last Updated: November 28, 2023 – with additional tips and an all-new FAQ section.
How to Attract Birds to Bird Bath DIY
Introducing a bird bath to your garden is an excellent way to naturally attract more wildlife and enhance the beauty of your outdoor space. While a bit of patience is required before you can expect your new feathered friends, we’ve compiled this list of 10 tips to help you learn how to attract birds to your bird bath!
1. Where to Place a Bird Bath
At about 1.5 feet tall, the Frog & Lilies Bird Bath by Massarelli's is 48 lbs. of concrete yet petite enough for versatile placement options.
A strategic placement is essential to effectively attract birds to your bird bath. It's important to select a spot that birds can see easily, both while perched in the trees, and while flying above. Aim for an ideal balance by positioning your bird bath in a location that will be visible to birds yet discreet enough to keep it hidden from potential predators.
Should a bird bath be in the sun or shade?
Place your bird bath in the shade, when possible, to keep the water cool and fresh. Placement in the sun will not deter visitors forever – North American bird species are intelligent and resourceful. If the water or edge of the bird bath are too warm for their liking, they’ll reattempt later.
And remember, many bird species will bathe in early morning hours while it is still naturally cool!
Fountainful Tip: Birds actually prefer a bit of distance between their houses, baths, and feeders, so don’t crowd other features too close to the bird bath.
2. How to Keep your Bird Bath Water Clean
Keeping the Quiet Reflections Concrete Bird Bath clean means getting to also enjoy its whimsically sculpted smiley face!
If you want to consistently attract birds to your bird bath it is critical to check the quality of the water regularly. Change it every few days to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria, and clean the bath regularly to remove dirt and deposits. This will also help to prevent mosquitoes.
Remember, birds will use your bird bath for bathing and drinking, so contaminated water can greatly impact their health.
Fountainful Tip: Be vigilant to clean your bird bath after heavy rains or extended periods of hot weather to prevent stagnation and unpleasant smells.
Fountainful Tip: Avoid placing bird baths under frequently shedding trees.
What to put in bird bath water?
Avoid using chemicals or soaps to clean the birdbath, as these can be harmful to birds. A brush and plain water are usually sufficient. When algae prevention is desired, consider a product that is environmentally friendly and anti-foaming, such as the FounTec Algaecide by EasyCare.
3. Provide Water Movement
With its shallow, curved water bowl, the Spiral Bird Bath by Massarelli's may have its water naturally stirred by a steady breeze depending on placement conditions.
Researchers and bird enthusiasts have observed that the sound and sight of moving water, such as ripples or splashes, is more appealing to birds than still water. The movement can catch their eye and also suggest to them that the water is fresh and clean. Additionally, the sound of moving water can be heard from a distance which will help attract birds to your bird bath.
Fountainful Tip: Add a bubbler or dripper to your bird bath to prevent algae buildup. The water movement may also help catch the attention of migrating birds passing by!
4. Shallow Water is Key
The Old Sap Concrete Bird Bath by Massarelli has a 2.5" deep water bowl, ideal for most species of adult birds. Bonus: when ordered in a brown or bronze stain, birds will respond favorably to its tree-trunk like appearance!
Birds show a clear preference for shallow water, typically around 1 to 2 inches deep. This depth is ideal for most songbirds, allowing them to bathe and drink without the risk of drowning. While most birds are good swimmers, very young birds, small species, or birds that become weakened or injured while in the water are at a higher risk of drowning. If your bird bath is deeper, it's a good idea to modify it to make it more bird-friendly.
Fountainful Tip: Transform a deep bird bath into a welcoming spot by adding a layer of clean pebbles or small stones. This not only reduces the water depth but also provides smaller birds with secure footing, making it easier and safer for them to enjoy the bath. The addition of natural elements will attract birds to your bird bath and also enhance its aesthetic appeal.
5. Offer Perches Within Your Bird Bath
The Butterfly & Flowers Bird Bath by Massarelli has a sculpted riser in the center to give smaller birds a perch to stand on.
Birds enjoy bird baths because they offer excellent opportunities to bathe and preen their feathers. Depending on the size and depth of your bird bath, you may want to add areas for smaller birds to perch which will make bathing easier for them.
Fountainful Tip: Create perching areas to attract birds to your bird bath by adding clean rocks or branches of varying sizes. Get creative by matching the perches to your garden theme and decorative style.
6. Make the Bird Bath Accessible (to YOU!)
Place the beautiful Bella Lisa Bird Bath by Studio M along a garden path for easy access to change its water.
Bird baths should be easy to reach to make maintenance as efficient as possible. A readily accessible bird bath will make you more likely to keep up with the cleaning and refilling tasks that are essential to consistently attract birds to your bird bath.
Fountainful Tip: If your bird bath is located in the middle of a flower bed, add a simple stone path so you can access and clean the bird bath easily. Be sure that water replacement becomes part of a regular routine.
7. Provide Cover
All bird baths, like this modern Ribbon Concrete Bird Bath by Massarelli, should be placed where land and air-borne predators will not easy access it.
Bird baths should be a safe haven for smaller birds hiding from predators. Place bird baths in shaded or slightly secluded areas to provide smaller birds from land and air-borne predators.
Fountainful Tip: If your backyard doesn’t offer natural protection, consider adding a tree, shrub, or another element for birds to quickly escape to if needed. This available protection creates a safer and more relaxing environment for birds passing by.
Fountainful Tip: Position feeders and baths away from places where cats and other predators can hide.
8. Have Food in the Yard – at a Distance
Most bird species prefer some distance between their bathing and eating areas. Pictured here: the Regal Embossed Concrete Bird Bath by Massarelli.
The easiest way to attract any animal is with food. By having a bird feeder available somewhere in the yard (but not TOO close to the bath), birds who first spot the feeder will be encouraged to check the surrounding area and ultimately discover your bird bath.
If you want to attract specific birds or live in an area with fewer birds, research online to determine the preferred food for your local species or migratory birds.
Fountainful Tip: Check out our Cedar Wooden Birding collection from Winter Woodworks which includes ornithologically correct birdhouses and feeders to attract birds to your bird bath.
9. What Color Attracts Birds to a Bird Bath
The reds and pinks of the Spring Hummingbird Garden Bird Bath by Studio M are ideal for attracting hummingbirds into your yard.
The color that will attract birds to a bird bath can vary depending on the species, but generally, birds are drawn to colors that mimic those found in nature. Blue is often considered the best color to attract birds because it is reminiscent of water and the sky. It's a naturally occurring color in birds' environments, so they're likely to be drawn to it. Green also blends well with the garden environment and looks natural and safe to birds.
Incorporating earth tones like browns, tans, and grays can help a bird bath blend into the natural environment and make birds feel secure. Some birds are also attracted to bright colors. For example, hummingbirds are attracted to reds and pinks. Consider whether you’re trying to attract a specific species or provide a more general bird bath when choosing colors.
Fountainful Tip: If you want to attract a specific species, research their needs and color preferences to attract and cater to them accordingly.
10. What to Put in a Bird Bath Besides Water
Keep bird baths and waterers clean (and warm in winter months) with an abundance of accessories available in the marketplace. Pictured here: the St. Francis Pet & Wildlife Waterer by Giannini Garden Ornaments
While clean water is the most important ingredient to attract birds to your bird bath, adding other elements can further enhance its appeal. Bubblers or drippers, and perches as detailed in tips 3 and 5 can enhance the bath;s appeal. During colder months, consider installing a bird bath heater to keep the water from freezing and ensure that your feathered friends have a reliable water source year-round.
You can also place colorful stones or marbles at the bottom of the bath, which can sparkle and attract birds from a distance. Remember, the key is to ensure these additions are safe and non-toxic for the birds.
Fountainful Tip: If mosquitoes are a problem, consider adding a mosquito dunk to the bird bath. These are safe for birds and other wildlife and help prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the water.
Fountainful: Your Source for Exceptional Bird Baths Handmade in the USA
A successful bird bath becomes a popular “watering hole” for your local ecosystem! They provide birds with a safe haven to bathe, drink, and relax. In return, you get to enjoy their beauty while providing nourishment to wildlife.
View all of bird baths within our Birding Collection.
Types of Bird Baths to Attract Birds
Bird baths come in various styles, sizes, and materials that fit any garden theme.
With one-piece bird baths, like the artfully sculpted Owl Concrete Bird Bath, the pedestal and bowl are molded together and do not separate.
Pedestal bird baths, like the stunning Birchwood Concrete Bird Bath pictured above, feature a removable bowl, which may make cleaning or refilling more convenient for some owners.
For an ultra natural look that incorporates the attractive element of moving water, consider this Basalt Bird Bath Fountain – quarried from real volcanic basalt. It includes an 800 gallon-per-hour pump to circulate water and attract birds to your bird bath.
Q: What can I put in my bird bath to attract birds?
A: To attract birds to your bird bath, ensure it has clean, fresh water. You can add a dripper or bubbler to create movement, which is particularly appealing to birds. Stones or pebbles can provide secure footing, and placing the bath near bird feeders can also help attract them.
Q: Why won't birds come to my birdbath?
A: Birds may avoid a birdbath for several reasons. It could be too deep, not clean, or placed in an unsafe location. Ensure the water is shallow, the bath is clean, and it's placed near shelter but not too close to potential hiding spots for predators.
Q: How long does it take for birds to find a bird bath?
A: The time it takes for birds to discover a new bird bath varies. It can be as quick as a day or two, or it might take several weeks. Consistently maintaining clean water and a safe environment will eventually attract them.
Q: Do birds drink bird bath water?
A: Yes, birds use bird baths for both drinking and bathing. It's important to keep the water clean to ensure it's safe for them to drink.
Q: Will birds use a dirty bird bath?
A: Birds are less likely to use a dirty bird bath. Dirty water can harbor bacteria or parasites and pose health risks to birds. Regular cleaning is essential to keep birds coming back.
Q: Should I put a rock in my birdbath?
A: Yes, placing a rock or several pebbles in your bird bath can be beneficial. It provides birds with a place to perch and makes deeper baths more accessible and safer, especially for smaller birds.
Q: What kind of bird baths do birds like best?
A: Birds generally prefer bird baths that mimic natural water sources. Shallow baths (1-2 inches deep) with a rough surface for grip are ideal. Birds are also attracted to baths with moving water, like those with a fountain or dripper.
Q: Can you put vinegar in a bird bath?
A: Yes, you can add a small amount of apple cider vinegar to a bird bath to help prevent algae growth and keep the water clean. Use about one tablespoon per gallon of water. However, ensure it's diluted properly, as too much vinegar can be harmful to birds.