Bird Baths

Many birds need fresh water both for drinking and bathing and so providing water in your yard is a great way to help them. Here are some tips to help you  provide birds with a safe, clean bird bath or pond. Remember you don't need to limit yourself to just one - put baths and ponds of different shapes and sizes so  you can help all your neighbourhood birds. You will see different birds have different bathing styles. Parrots will throw themselves in and splash around whilst  finches might flit in and out very quickly. Watch your bird baths and see how your birds use it.

Download a guideline for providing water for birds here.

Bird baths                                                                                                                                                           

  • Keep the water cool. Birds prefer baths that are placed in dappled shade. 
  • Remember birds are using this to drink AND bath in! Replace the water every day or so and clean the bird bath regularly. Scrub and rise with clean water. If your bath is particularly dirty you can use a very dilute (20:1) water to bleach ratio - be sure to rinse very well after this.
  • Place your bird bath so birds can perch nearby to observe the surrounding areas before bathing (so not in the middle of a patch of shrubs) but make sure there are dense shrubs or trees close by that birds can escape to if necessary.
  • Ensure the bath is beyond the reach of cats - hang it from a tree or use a pedestal bath if cats are around. If you have no cats with access to your yard then even a pot saucer on the ground makes a suitable bird bath.
  • If the bath is deep or has a smooth base (such as a glazed pot), place pebbles, a stick or a brick in it so that if a bird falls in it is able to grip on and climb out.
  • Going away? Ask a neighbour to add water, so your birds don't lose their water supply.

Photographer: Wanda Optland   


  • Ponds should be large enough for birds to drink or bath outside the reach of cats or other threats. Place an old branch in the water or have a large rock as an island, which they can stand on safely while drinking.
  • Provide different water levels; different bird species use different depths of water.
  • As with bird baths, it is best if ponds have shrubs and plantings near by for birds to observe from, or escape to.
  • Ponds are also great for attracting other wildlife, especially frogs.

Read up on the findings from the Bathing Birds project to uncover more about just which birds are using bird baths.

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