Do you want to learn how to keep algae out of your bird bath? When you first notice that slimy layer, it may send you into a panic. You want to be helping the birds, not harming them.
This guide will take you through all you need to know about algae in your bird bath, how to prevent it and what to do when it appears
Let’s jump in
What causes Algae in bird baths
Wherever there is stagnant water there are algae. That’s because Algae are tiny aquatic plants that have no roots. Algae often form in bird baths as birds carry the spores on their feathers.
Once the spores are in the right conditions with water, light, and nutrients then they begin to grow rapidly.
The two main types of algae you’ll find in bird baths are:
When your bird bath has a red slime layer it’s caused by Haemtococcus Pluvialis. This is the most common type of algae you’ll find in your bird bath. As the algae bloom it will create a red layer over your bird bath.
The green-colored algae you’ll see on bird baths are also known as cyanobacteria. This isn’t as common as red algae. Blue-green algae is usually introduced from a bird previously visiting a pond or water sources with existing growth.
Is Algae harmful to birds?
Algae in a bird bath are rarely harmful to birds. However, you’ll find that birds will start to avoid your bird bath with more and more algae growth.
That’s because algae start to take all the nutrients from the bath water. Algae water also doesn’t taste nice for birds.
Birds will use your bath as a last resort, but they’ll look for other fresh, clean water sources first.
How Do I Keep Algae Out of My Bird Bath
1. Keep it clean
The best way to keep algae out of your bird bath is to regularly maintain it. That means having a regular cleaning schedule.
A bird bath is a big commitment as you need to ensure it’s a safe place for your backyard birds to visit. Otherwise, they’ll stop coming around and you’ll have wasted your money.
Bird baths also need to be cleaned in winter conditions. Although algae won’t grow as quickly, birds need a freshwater source when everything is frozen over.
Algae will lay dormant until it finds the right conditions to grow in. So even if you don’t see it in winter, it will grow quickly once the spring weather brings more heat and sunlight.
Keep reading to find out the best way to clean your bird bath to prevent Algae growing.
2. Keep away from Trees
One of the worst places to put a bird bath is underneath a tree. You are asking to have an algae problem if you place it there. Algae spores can drop down from trees directly into your bird bath. That means a whole new source can be introduced despite your best efforts to clean your bird bath. You’re fighting a losing battle if you keep your bird bath positioned under a tree.
3. Keep it out of the sun
One thing that algae need to survive is heat and light. If your bird bath is placed in a really sunny location it has access to both of these.
The best thing to do is to place the bird bath in a shaded area of your yard. Remember under a tree is out of the question. You’ll want to find a spot that is shaded by your home or another walled area.
Check out my guide on finding the best place for your bird bath.
4. Replenish the water
I can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain your bird bath. Alongside cleaning, you’ll need to regularly replace the water. I’d recommend changing the water every day.
A fresh source of water means you’ll remove any existing water that is contaminated with algae spores. The faster you remove it and replace it with clean water the less chance the algae has to grow.
Freshwater will keep your birds healthy. It will prevent them from picking up any nasty diseases which can easily be passed on at bird baths.
5. Use a fountain
A solar fountain can go a long way to prevent excessive algae growth in your bird bath. The moving water slows down the algae’s rate of growth.
This is the one I’d recommend you use. The great thing is that with a solar-powered fountain you just set it up and forget it. The fountain gets its charge from the sun. That way you don’t need to worry about a power source.
A running water source also prevents mosquitos from breeding near your bird bath.
6. Try Enzymes
If you’re struggling to fight the algae growth despite cleaning and changing the water, then consider using bird bath enzymes. This is a natural solution that helps to break down existing algae and slow down new growth.
I’ve found the most effective bird bath enzyme is the Sanco Bird Bath & Fountain Maintenance. You use this by adding around a capful into your bird bath and letting it work its magic. The bottle will last a couple of months. The enzymes won’t stop the algae, but they’ll certainly slow them down.
Algae enzymes in your bird bath should be the last solution as it is best to provide water that is as fresh as possible without any additional additives.
7. Use Copper
Copper can be used to slow down algae growth. It binds to the algae and stops it from photosynthesizing and getting energy to grow.
Some readers recommend throwing a penny into the bird bath to stop red algae. The reason is that pennies contain copper. Yet a small penny is likely to be ineffective against a whole bird bath of algae. That’s because you’d need a lot as modern pennies contain very little copper.
A better solution is it add a few sheets of copper (like this) to the bottom of your bird bath. The copper won’t harm the birds, but it may give your water a metallic taste and put them off.
How to Get Rid of Algae in a Bird Bath
The best way to get rid of algae from your bird bath is to empty the water and clean the bath out. I recommend that you do this routine at least once per week to keep the algae at bay.
Follow these 5 easy steps each time.
1. Remove the water
Empty your bird bath of the water that’s in your bird bath. Try to dispose of it away from the bird bath. Otherwise, birds may recontaminate the bird bath with the same water.
Use a small but stiff brush to scrub all the visible algae from your bird bath. If you have small nooks you can’t get into then use an old toothbrush to remove as much of the algae as possible.
3. Clean it
Once all the visible algae are removed you’ll want to clean the surface of the bird bath to ensure you kill all the Algae. You can use a commercial bird bath cleaner. However, you can use simple cleaners such as dilute bleach, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or salt.
4. Rinse thoroughly
Using a hose rinse down your bird feeder as much as possible. Make sure there is no cleaning material leftover from step 3. This step is really important as birds can be sensitive towards the cleaning products you’ve used. However a thorough rinse will keep the birds safe.
Fill up your bird bath again with fresh water. You can add in a capful of enzymes at this point.
Your bath should be no deeper than 2inches at its deepest point. This allows birds to bathe safely and it won’t be as much work to maintain every day.
Algae in your bird bath can be a headache, especially if it grows quickly. The best line of defense is to keep your bird bath water fresh and clean it regularly.
Placement in your yard and keeping your water moving can also help to cut down on the amount of algae growth in your pond.
You can use enzymes as a last solution. But, don’t use these unless you’re keeping your bird bath well maintained and have positioned it in the best place it can be.
Hopefully, your bird bath will be algae-free in no time.