The Bird Bath Buying Guide: 8 Questions To Ask Yourself (2024)

Bird baths are the thing everyone knows they SHOULD have in their backyards.

bird baths

But, unfortunately, not many people actually pull the trigger and offer one for their birds. And most enthusiasts that do buy a bird bath often don’t keep up with the maintenance, and it ends up being nothing more than a lawn ornament filled with filthy water.

*Click Here to skip directly to the birdbath buying guide!*

The problem is that most bird watchers purchase the first birdbath they see at their local store, fill it up with water, then pray that birds start arriving.

Today we are going to discuss 8 things to consider when shopping for bird baths.

And along the way, you will learn lots of actionable tips to help manage your bird bath once it’s in your backyard.

But first, let’s answer this question:

Why should you purchase a bird bath?

Technically, you don’t NEED a birdbath in your backyard. Birds have been just fine for millions of years without them. But I think after learning more about the benefits they provide you are going to WANT one!

Simply put, providing consistent fresh water will attract more birds than just hanging a bird feeder.

Here are TWO reasons why:

A. ALL birds need to drink.

classic bird baths with goldfinch

I know this is not a mind-blowing statement that ALL birds need to drink. 🙂 But it’s important to remember.

Hanging bird feeders filled with irresistible food is an essential part of a bird feeding station. But many bird species will NEVER visit your feeders, no matter what types of food you offer! Warblers are a great example. Even common species like the American Robin will almost never be glimpsed on a bird feeder.

But providing a source of fresh water to drink appeals to ALL birds.

Bird baths are especially popular when water is hard to find, like during times of drought or the middle of a cold winter.

B. Birds like to bathe.

You know, there is a reason they call it a “bird bath”!

Surprisingly, scientists don’t know the exact reason why birds take baths. It seems to play some function in the maintenance of their feathers.

Regardless, providing fresh water is a proven way to attract birds and cater to their love of bathing.

8 Questions To Ask When Purchasing a Bird Bath

There are thousands of different bird baths available. Because of all the options, it can become overwhelming when you start shopping for one.

I hope that after reviewing these eight questions, it will help narrow your choices and point you in the right direction.

#1. What style of bird bath do you prefer?

In general, there are four different bird bath styles you can choose.

For the most part, selecting the one best for your backyard comes down to your personal preference and where you want to feature your bird bath.

Classic Bird Bath:

classic bird bath design

Best Choice Products bird bath    View $ on Amazon

Take a look at the picture above. When I think of a bird bath, this is the image that comes to mind.

A classic features a round basin/bowl that is supported by a sturdy pedestal.

Hanging Bird Bath:

Hanging Bird Bath

Hanging bird bath by Evergreen Gardens  View $ on Amazon

Since they suspend in the air, hanging bird baths typically have a smaller basin and hold less water than a classic bird bath.

These are perfect to add to your bird pole or off the deck. They work great if you have limited space too, such as an apartment balcony.

Most hanging bird baths are convenient to clean because they are usually small enough to take inside to your kitchen sink.

Deck Mounted Bird Bath:

bird baths for deck

Deck mounted bird bath View Today's Price

Bird baths that mount to your deck provide some significant benefits.

First, if you provide fresh water right on your back deck, then you will hopefully have a great view of the birds as they get a drink.

Second, being so close to your home makes cleaning the bird bath more manageable.

Ground bird bath:

best ground bird baths

Ground level bird bath   View Today's Price 

Purchasing a bird bath that sits near the ground is not fancy, but it may be the best choice for birds.

Most birds naturally obtain their water from puddles, so they are comfortable drinking and bathing from the ground.

Also, by having fresh water near the ground, you’re probably going to attract ground-dwelling birds like turkeys and all sorts of other animals that need a drink, such as rabbits, raccoons, deer, coyotes, etc.

Ground bird baths are typically lighter than a classic birdbath, which makes them extremely easy to move to new locations!

#2. How fancy do you want your birdbath?

A big question you need to ask yourself is how stylish you want your bird bath to look in your backyard.

bird bath examples

Lots of bird baths are very effective at attracting birds but are generally pretty plain looking (“Functional” above).

On the other hand, many bird baths are designed to be more of a lawn ornament, either with bright colors, fancy fountains, or pretty glass (“Fancy” above).

You need to decide how fancy you want your bird bath and then how important it is also to attract birds.

fancy vs functional bird baths

I hope you like my self-created “Fancy vs. Functional bird bath arrow.” You need to decide what is most important; Do you want a birdbath that is functional, fancy, or both?

#3. What is it made from?

The construction material of a bird bath matters because it makes a difference in how it looks.

Here are the most common materials you are going to come across:

  • Concrete

  • Ceramic

  • Glass

  • Metal

  • Plastic

Which material you select should come down to your aesthetic and price preference.

Regardless of which construction material you prefer, there is going to be different levels of quality and design among those bird baths.

My recommendation is to pick which material you like the best, then start narrowing down the bird baths from there.

#4. How is the bowl designed?

When birds take a bath, they like to pick the water depth. As you can imagine, this is different depending on the species.

To accommodate a wide variety of birds, select a bowl/basin that starts off shallow at the rim, then continues to get deeper as it slopes downward to the middle, reaching a maximum of about 3 inches deep. This type of bowl lets birds bathe where they feel most comfortable.

Just a warning, many bird baths are too deep in the center of the bowl.

But regardless of the bird bath you have or want to purchase, here is a simple hack to provide different water depths.

bird bath rocks

Place rocks of various sizes inside the bowl so birds can easily find the depth that is most comfortable to them!

#5. Is the basin easy to clean?

Personally, the hardest part of having a bird bath is the maintenance! As we discussed earlier, birds LOVE having a fresh source of water.

But here’s the problem:

Birds are not very clean!

Soon after filling my bird bath up with fresh water, birds take notice and start visiting. After a few days, the droppings, dirt, and bacteria start compounding!

The water spoils quickly! You will have to change the water every few days and perform a thorough cleaning at least once per week, especially in the hot summer months.

As you are shopping for a bird bath, make sure you consider how you are going to clean it.

An advantage of a hanging birdbath or even one that mounts to your deck is they are typically small enough to take inside to clean in your sink.

For a classic bird bath that is relatively heavy with a larger basin, I find it easiest to get the hose and start spraying and scrubbing away.

On a side note, it’s probably going to be in your best interest to buy a brush that’s dedicated to scrubbing out the dirt and poop from your bird bath!

#6. Can the water be heated?

If you want to attract as many birds as possible, try providing heated water in the middle of a cold winter. Most other water sources will be frozen so your bird bath will be the only game in town! Birds will have to visit to get a drink!

You have two options when it comes to heated bird baths:

First, you can buy a bird bath that has a built-in heating element.

It is going to cost you more money, but there are some very high-quality heated bird baths available.

Remember that to provide heat; you are going to need to supply electricity with an extension cord. Because of the electricity requirements, putting out a smaller deck mounted bird bath in winter is a popular option.

A popular question many people ask is if you can buy a heated bird bath powered by solar energy.

There are none that I could find that seem practical. Unfortunately, there is not much sun shining in the middle of winter when you need it most!

Second, buy a de-icer to place inside your existing bath.

Instead of buying a pricey heated birdbath,  you can try buying an external de-icer that you place in your existing bird bath just during the cold winter months.

bird bath deicer and heater

De-icer from K&H Pet Products   View $ on Amazon 

You can store the de-icer in your garage all year until it is needed most. Then once the weather gets cold, you can throw it in your bird bath and power it up with an extension cord.

#7. Can you make the water move?

Do you want to know the best type of water to put in your bird bath?

Moving water!

Yes, that’s right. Something about movement helps attract birds, especially migrating birds that may only be passing through your area. And the good news is there are multiple ways to provide a bit of motion to water.

First, you could buy a fancy birdbath that includes a fountain.

Purchasing a bird bath with a built-in fountain typically is a good investment if you also want it to serve as a decorative feature in your yard.

Or you can add one of the following accessories to your existing bath.

The least expensive way to add movement to water is to purchase one of the following items below. They are all external devices that you add to your current bird bath.

  • Dripper

#8. How much does it cost?

Like almost every product on Planet Earth, price is a consideration.

And as you know, typically the more you spend, the higher quality product you can expect with more bells and whistles.

My recommendation is to determine a budget for your bird bath or at least a range of how much you want to spend, then start shopping.

But to help get started, here are three bird baths that demonstrate the extreme price ranges you will encounter. They are in order from least to most expensive.

Final Thoughts

If you are serious about attracting birds to your backyard, then you need to provide fresh water every season.

But as we have discussed, buying a bird bath is confusing! There are thousands of different bird baths you can choose from, ranging in price, size, style, and functionality.

I hope this guide provides guidance as you shop for bird baths.

At the very least, I hope you learned some strategies and tips that will help draw more birds to your bird bath!

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  1. Hi Scott, I’m all for a heated birdbath however, I am worried about the water freezing on feathers when the temperatures drop to minus 20 degrees C or lower. Is that a concern? Is there a temperature at which you turn the heater off?

  2. Just put up 2 pedestal bird baths (one shade, one sun) with solar fountains and one hanging one in our sensory garden. The birds, bees, and dragonflies are loving them!

  3. I found a heated dog bowl is perfect in the winter. Not pretty in the summer but in winter when the snow is right u[ the sides, it looks great and works at really cold temperatures. Old truck hubcaps are great in summer, shallow, easy to clean and plentiful here on the farm.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. I have a dog that tries to attack my birds ! I try to watch her but she is clever . Should I just remove the bird bath

  7. The temperature was 104 for 2 months last summer. I never thought of the water being too hot!! I have a hot water heater pan with a little solar fountain and some rocks. In the winter I have a bird bath heater. Lots of birds come. I’ll have to look at how to create some shade, a desert type tree.

  8. Hi from East Texas USA, where the summers are unbearably hot and humid, lol. IAM GAZZ, I really liked the way you described your bird bath environment. I will take a lesson from you and see what plants etc. I can find for here in my area of Texas.
    Excellent reply. Thanks.

  9. I live on the east coast of South Africa, and here we have extreme heat with lots of humidity so I was having the same problem. I’m guessing Florida is also humid since it has a tropical climate? This isn’t so much a bird bath recommendation, but the environment you put it into. I moved my big concrete bird bath into the shade. I built a small wall behind it and grew moss on it and ivy over the top. I wanted it to look “rainforesty” so I surrounded it with tropical plants – ferns, delicious monsters and spathiphyllum, aka peace lilies (bee’s love these). I made a ground cover with some hosta and a few months ago planted a giant strelitzia palm behind it (aka giant bird of paradise palm) – it’s starting to look like a little piece of Costa Rica! Remember hot air rises, cold air sinks, so these kind of plants trap the air and the moisture which helps with temperature control. To help keep it moist and refresh the water, I just give it a quick shower with the hose in the mornings before work.

  10. I have a quick bird bath question – I live in Florida and my bird baths tend to heat up and stay really hot during the summer. I am afraid I am going to boil my birds! Seriously, I change the water daily but it is still so hot by the time I get home from work I can’t even stick my hand in it on our stone bird bath. I am looking to replace this with a different kind of bird bath that won’t retain heat as much and possibly add a fountain to it. Do you have suggestions for bird baths in really hot climate areas?

  11. I like how you said in general that there are four different styles of birdbaths. My husband and I are thinking of getting a birdbath. Knowing what styles are out there will help us when it comes time to make a decision.