How to Care for a Birdbath in Winter
By: Julie Day
Overwintering birds greatly appreciate a year-round supply of fresh water. But if you live in an area with extended freezing temperatures, you may find that your birdbath or water feature freezes over rather quickly.
Here are some tips for taking care of a birdbath during the winter:
- Choose Carefully: Stone, cement, or glass birdbaths are much more susceptible to breakage if the water repeatedly freezes and thaws. Plastic or resin birdbaths are shatterproof and can better withstand the stresses of ice removal and melting. Dark-colored bird baths will stay warmer than light-colored ones.
- Use the Sun: Move your birdbath to a sunny spot during the winter to take advantage of the warmth of the sun’s rays. You can also remove your birdbath from its pedestal and place it on a wooden base, or nestle it in an insulating blanket, to help keep it warmer.
- Prevent Ice: When temperatures are dipping just below freezing, you can prevent ice formation on your birdbath through the use of a dripper, aerator, or simply floating a plastic ball in the pool. The movement on the surface of the water will prevent thin layers of ice from forming.
- Heat the Water: If temperatures drop low enough for long enough, there’s not much you can do to prevent ice unless you heat the water. If you live in an area with cold winters, consider investing in a heated birdbath to keep the water temperature just above freezing. Heated birdbaths and immersion water heaters work well, though they can be expensive and require an outdoor electrical outlet. Still, the birds will thank you, and you won’t be spending time and money replacing frozen and broken birdbaths!
- Plastic Liner: Line your birdbath with plastic sheeting. That way you can lift the plastic and easily remove the block of ice.
- Melt the ice: If the surface of your bird bath has frozen over, you can heat water in a kettle or saucepan, and sit the hot pan on top of the ice until it melts. You can also add just a bit of warm water to keep the temperature above freezing. However, don’t pour boiling water directly on a cold birdbath – it could shatter.
Keep Your Birdbath Safe
- Don’t Break the Ice: The force of breaking the ice can also break your birdbath!
- Avoid chemicals: Never use antifreeze, salt, or any other additives to the water in your birdbath. Even so-called “nontoxic” chemicals can be deadly to our feathered friends.