Water in Winter

Sure, birds drink in winter. But did you know they bathe, too? Many birds bathe to keep feathers clean so they retain body heat properly, and they have definite preferences about where to bathe:

To be sure that your bath is a reliable source of water, keep it from freezing between dawn and nightfall.  Birdbath water can be kept just above freezing with a simple submersible de-icer, or one that’s thermostatically-controlled.  Some people use a dripper on cold but not frigid days, to ensure that there is a portion of the birdbath that is unfrozen and inviting to sip.

Most birds bathe in water that is no deeper than their legs are long.  They prefer shallow baths, typically 1 – 3 inches at its deepest point.  They prefer a bath with sides that slope gradually, allowing them to first land and then wade in to a comfortable depth.  A rough-textured bowl is much preferred to a slippery surface.

What if your bird bath doesn’t measure up?  You can make adjustments!  Is it too deep, or steep, or slippery?  Try placing some flat rocks from an edge to the middle of the bath.  Some folks use bathtub stickers on a slippery surface, or caulk sprinkled with sand.