6 Ways to care for your bird bath in winter

Water is a great way to attract new birds to your yard. But do you know how to care for your bird bath in winter?

Bird baths are an essential source of water for backyard birds in the winter. Caring for your bird bath during winter weather conditions ensures birds get fresh, clean water to survive. In winter you need to ensure your bird bath is available, clean, free from damage, and clear of ice or snow.

Preparing your bird bath in winter is easy and this guide will show you how.

Follow these six simple steps in the winter and your bird bath will be the perfect haven for your backyard visitors.

Sound good? Then let’s go.

Caring for your bird bath in winter

1. Keep your bath out

The best thing you can do with your bird bath in winter is to keep it outdoors.

It may be tempting to put it inside to make sure that it doesn’t get damaged. Or you may even be thinking the birds won’t use a bird bath in winter.

The problem is the birds do use bird baths in winter and by putting yours away, you’re removing that easy water source.

By keeping your bird bath out in winter you’ll be providing a lifeline for the bird in your area.

2. Defrosting

If you’re not doing anything to prevent your bird bath from freezing over, you’ll wake up to a frozen bird bath most mornings.

It’s important you know how to defrost your bird bath to prevent damage and to keep the backyard birds safe.

Don’t just start bashing away at the ice. The sharp pieces this creates can be harmful to any visiting birds.

You may also have seen suggestions to pour hot water into your bird bath.

Whilst that is a great way to defrost your bird bath, don’t use hot water.

Lukewarm or even room temperature water is enough to melt the ice in your bird bath. Plus it doesn’t risk scalding a keen visiting bird.

Hot water is not the best to use as it will actually freeze over quicker than cooler water. This is known as the Mpemba effect.

3. Prevent Freezing

Rather than having to deal with frozen water each morning, why not prevent your bird bath from freezing in the first place?

My four top tips to prevent your bird bath freezing are:

  • Keep it in a warm place
  • Use a bird bath heater
  • Keep the surface moving
  • Use dark objects to retain heat

These suggestions are all-natural and cause no harm to your visiting birds.

Bird bath heaters are pretty neat. I love that they are energy-friendly too. They only work once the temperatures fall to almost freezing. They don’t need much maintenance at all.

If you’re after a great bird bath heater to stop the water freezing over, then check out this one.

A note on antifreeze

Do not under any circumstance add anything to your bird bath water to stop it from freezing over.

Common suggestions included bird bath antifreeze, salt, sugar, or glycerine.

Any ‘antifreeze’ chemicals added to a bird bath can poison your backyard birds. Not only this but chemicals can damage their delicate feathers. Anything that interferes with feathers means birds can keep warm. It’s likely these birds will be unable to survive low temperatures and harsh winter conditions.

4. Provide protection

In winter you need to shield your bird bath from winter conditions as much as possible.

If you have somewhere that is quite shaded with a windbreaker nearby then this is ideal.

Freezing cold snow not only makes the water freeze quicker, but it makes it hard for the birds to get to the water.

Exposure to harsh winter conditions may also result in cracks forming in your birdbath. This is due to the sudden changes in temperature.

If you live in an area that sees a lot of snow, then using a bird bath cover overnight is ideal. This keeps the snow off your bird bath and ready to go in the morning by simply removing the cover.

5. Clean and maintain

The cold weather conditions don’t mean you can slack on your bird bath cleaning duties.

You need to maintain your bird bath as it will be getting a lot of use over the winter. Birds carry diseases which they can pass can easily on at your bird bath. 

Your bird bath should be regularly maintained every 2-4 days to help prevent algae growth. Empty it, scrub off any muck on the surface and fill it with fresh water.

Use a dilute bleach solution to clean your bird bath and kill off any lingering bacteria or viruses.

Check your bird bath each day to make sure the water levels are always topped up. Your bird bath will freeze over quicker when there is less water in them.

Adding small rocks or stones can help give smaller birds a bay area where there can sip easily without entering deeper water.

6. Damage prevention

Consider the type of birth bath you are using. Not all bird baths are suitable, or safe to use in the winter months.

It’s best to use a metal, resin, or reinforced plastic bird bath in winter. These materials will withstand harsh weather conditions and a less prone to breakages. Other bird bath materials such as concrete, ceramic, stone, or glass are not suitable for low temperatures. In winter conditions they are likely to break and leak.

If you have a bird bath made of one of the unsuitable materials, then consider buying yourself a new birdbath to use in winter.

Bird Bath Care FAQ

Can I leave my bird bath out all winter?

You can leave a bird bath out in the winter months if you are using a metal, resin, or plastic design. Other types of bird baths are likely to break and leak if you leave them in cold winter weather.

You must clean and maintain your bird bath twice a week in the winter. You will need to ensure the bird bath is free of snow and ice when the temperatures drop below freezing.

Are bird bath heaters safe?

Bird bath heaters are safe to use in your bird bath. They are designed with reinforced plastic or metal to ensure they are safe to use underwater. It’s important to make sure you have an outdoor electrical setup. This will prevent any electrical shocks to yourself or your backyard birds.

Bird bath heaters are the best way to keep your birdbath ice-free with little effort from you.

What bird bath heater do you recommend?

There are lots of great bird bath heaters on the market. I would recommend this heater for your bird bath. It’s fairly inexpensive and it has great reviews from other birdwatchers who rate it highly.

Final Thoughts

Caring for your bird bath in winter is essential to ensure your backyard birds have a good water source. You’ll be doing your part to helping birds survive over the cold winter months.

Make sure you keep frost and ice away, keep the bath clean and maintained for your birds.

If you have any great tips you use for your own bird bath in the winter leave a comment below, I’d love to share them with the other readers.

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