Bird Baths in Your Yard


Has summer come in with a bang!

Heat waves everywhere.

And where is the rain?

Yolanda is at camp this week.

She gets so excited.

She can remember that camp is a fun time for her, yet she can't remember or tell you what she did during the week or her last day there.

A few miles west of Grand Rapids is "Indian Trails Camp."

Indian Trails is a special camp for special needs people of all ages.

Camp is staffed with a registered nurse and camp counselors.

The counselors are college students. Many of them come from other countries that are studying and training in a special needs field.

Last year there was a counselor from Australia, Yolanda thought he was a HUNK!

It's a good respite for all.

Mom is dealing with another bout of pneumonia.

They brought her to the hospital for a 12 hour stay and she's still at the nursing home.

I just don't know any more, I weep every time I leave her.


Recently I have had several questions on and about birdbaths.

So........ I will address many of these questions again.

Now for you old timers......... you can still read this anyway.

Birdbaths come in many different shapes and styles. From a several hundred dollar fancy one to something as simple as a terra cotta saucer.

All too often, the fancy ones are more of a hassle to clean and keep clean.

The sculpting and flowers are a magnet for trapping dirt and algae.

They can have the proper dimensions and work great as a bath and a quick drink. Just remember they are extra work to maintain.

The width of the bowl isn't a problem.

A problem can occur when the bowl is too deep.

A proper depth for a birdbath is 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep.

Anything deeper without a raised flat surface (stone or brick) can be asking for trouble in the way of drowning or birds unable to escape quickly.

It's true, I have a clay bowl 3 inches deep for my robins and bluejays.

I also have a raised flat surface in the middle.

A Petoskey stone I found one year in the Little Traverse Bay at Bayview, Michigan.

It makes a nice added surface and a bit of a conversation piece for visitors to see a Petoskey stone that size.

We also have a two-tiered concrete bath on the tree stump style.

This is a left over from the years we owned our wild bird specialty store.

It's very functional and gets used, but it takes more time and care to clean.

Still, I like it in my yard as an added feature.

The easiest one to clean and the one that gets used the most is a simple two piece concrete birdbath.

The bowl is 1 1/2 inches deep and has a bit of a raised surface in the middle.

It is a neutral color and a plain surface.

My smaller birds as well as my mourning doves are at this bath all the time.

We need to fill it constantly it seems and it needs sanitizing more often.


I keep bringing that up don't I?

Thinking like a bird does not mean bird brained : )

Take notice as to where birds congregate for a bath, some playtime and a drink.

A simple mud puddle or where the sprinklers puddle up on streets and sidewalks.

Nature's way of water for birds.

Natural looking sources will help attract birds to your yard and birdbaths.

Earth tone colors.

Tan, brown, terra cotta, gray etc.

Are you getting the idea now?

Natural feeling and looking surfaces.

Stay away from pretty colors like bright blues and greens.

These bright colors are usually found on the glazed baths which as a BIG NO, NO!

Oh sure, the glazed baths are nice and easy to clean, but how often are they getting used?

A glazed bath is also an invitation to a potential death or two.

Birds need something to grip, something to hold onto and feel safe.

Too often a thirsty bird or a juvenile will fall in and drown.

Young birds are clueless to life's traps and dangers.

They see water or just a place to perch and may easily fall in.

Bigger birds like robins and smaller birds that may be perching, lose grips as well.

A soaking wet bird is slow in flight and a poor surface impedes flight a split second longer.

In nature, that fraction of a second can mean life or death.

Location, Location, Location.

A common phrase in business.

Also an important phrase when it comes to locating a birdbath.

Your bath(s) should be out in the open yet near protection.

An oxymoron?

Not really.

A bath should be placed in an opening or where nothing is growing, yet make sure there is a shrub or a tree near by.

Birds need to find a safe place to perch while they preen themselves.

A wet bird is a slow bird.

All of my baths are within 15 feet of a tree or other protection.

If you plant anything around your bath, make sure it is a low growing plant.

Cats will hide in your garden and pounce on your unsuspecting birds if givin the chance to do so.

Danger also comes from the sky, but birds will be looking for hawks

Also, place your source of water where you can enjoy the action.

Place it where it is easy for you to keep clean and filled.

I can't number the times I've seen an empty or filthy birdbath that is totally ignored because it is located as a piece of yard art, not as a birdbath.


Well, you've got your birdbaths or other sources of water.

Now how do you keep it clean?

This isn't rocket science, yet many people neglect this task.

Maintaining is more efficient then having to do a total scrub all the time.

Yes, it's true a good cleaning is needed and you will know when it's needed.

Here are a couple of things that I have found that work for me.

Near dusk, if my bath needs filling, I will refill with fresh water and put a cap or two of chlorine bleach into the water.

This keeps germs and algae down between cleanings and the chlorine will have oxidized by morning.

My favorite stuff is the oxygen bleach products.

I use this on a lot of things.

I was reminded by a dear friend that this stuff foams up some.

My apologies for not making that all too clear.

I can use my Oxi-Boost any time of day and feel safe.

It sanitizes and kills algae, even when my birds take a sip.

They don't mind a little foaming action.

I sprinkle in just enough around the edges and a bit in the middle and let it go to work.

Experiment on this one until you find what works for you.

I would guess a table spoon full.

I like this stuff because it is all natural, environment friendly, won't stain my clothes or if spilled, kill my plants.

The only drawback is it leaves a white residue when water evaporates.

I can live with that, however.

Every now and then, a good scrubbing is needed.

Especially on baths that have grooves and patterns.

Even worse to clean, are the ones with stone embedded.

If using chlorine or another harsh cleaner, place your bowl on a neutral surface like a driveway.

Let it soak for several minutes and then scrub.

Rinse and re-rinse.

Oxygen bleach can be done right where it stands without a problem.

I appreciate all the questions and inquirers.

Keep them coming and I will do my best to help out.

Whew.............. I'm pooped.

I hope this has been some help for you.

Hey............. until next time my friend.

Have a blessed week and I look forward to chatting with you all.

Remember to SMILE.


Ronald Patterson, has been caring and feeding wildbirds in his backyard for more then 40 years. Ron and his wife Karen also owned and operated a wild bird specialty store for many years. With his gardening skills and knowledge as a Michigan Certified Nurseryman, Ron publishes a weekly newsletter called Backyard Birding Tips. Sign up now and learn how to attract, garden and care for wild birds in your backyard. Ron, Karen and their daughter Yolanda live in the Grand Rapids Michigan area.

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