During winter, the temperature drops drastically, and the water freezes. This makes the water resources scanty for birds. Therefore birds are forced to use snow to meet their needs. A heated bird bath is perfect for this situation.
Heated bird baths are specially made for harsh winters. These bird baths contain a water heater that prevents the water from freezing and making it optimum for the birds to drink from it. It is the perfect option for both bird lovers and birds!
Heated bird baths are not only beneficial to the birds but to the bird-watchers too. As heated bird baths entice birds to visit in the off-season, the birders get an opportunity to observe them in winters.
Read on to how heated bird baths function and how you can make one in your bird-watching backyard to observe the birds in the coldest months.
What Are Bird Baths?
Bird baths are artificial ponds or puddles that act as a water resource for the birds. These are small water-filled basins that lure birds into bird-watching backyards. Do you know the best part? These can act as garden ornaments too! A unique bird bath comprises all the elements that cater to the bird’s basic needs, and at the same time, it captivates you! However, a unique bird bath need not be too expensive; it can be made or bought at pocket-friendly prices.
Bird baths, if created to be best suited for birds, cater to a myriad of problems. Such as, in urban and suburban towns which are devoid of water resources, the bird baths installed in backyards help the birds quench their thirst and splash in the water!
Bird baths also provide support for a micro-habitat consistently. There are many types of bird baths available in both online and offline stores. If a bird bath is made to mimic the natural habitat, then many species would prefer your bird bath.
How to Build a Bird Bath
Bird baths should be an extension of the natural habitat. This will ensure that they are comfortable in your backyard, and the chances are that they may visit often. So, here we are to unravel these secrets! Excited to find them out? Well, go on! Here are some vital points to ensure that the birds can feel safe in your bird bath:
Some ornamental plants or plants that bear fruits and seeds are very beneficial in creating a natural habitat. This is because they provide food resources close to the water resource; the need to travel elsewhere for food resources is exempted.
Birds prioritize their safety too while looking for water and food resources. Therefore, the bird bath should be safeguarded from any predators. The predators could be house cats or dogs. To safeguard the bird bath, ensure that there are no hiding places near the bird bath. All you have to do is ensure that the birds get a clear view of the surroundings. Two feet of open space allows birds to have a clear view; at the same time, it eliminates hiding space for the predators.
Birds have poor depth perception, and it can be hazardous if the water is too deep. A stick or a flat rock in the bird bath provides a ramp for the birds to access the water and judge its depth. This may alleviate their fear and create a safe space for them. The bottom line is to give birds a clear view of the surroundings and keep open space around the bird bath.
Birds need to perch on sturdy support while they drink from the bird bath. This support can be a stone in the bird bath or a small branch that sits right next to the bird bath.
Perching is essential even during long-distance migration, so a perching stick next to the bird bath helps them rest while accessing the water resource.
How do Heated Bird Baths Work?
An internal thermostat enables the basic function of a bird bath. When the temperature decreases and the water starts freezing, the heater switches on. The heater works on keeping the water warm enough to prevent the formation of ice.
Similarly, when the water becomes warm, the heater gets switched off with the help of sensor technology.
These days, we find thousands of modifications in these bird baths. For example, there are various heated bird baths like the solar bird bath. These offer birdwatchers an eco-friendly and sustainable option.
Are Heated Bird Baths Safe?
Heated bird baths are safe as long as they are used only for drinking; if they bathe in the heated bird bath during the winter, their wings are prone to freeze if they are not dried well. For this reason, the bird baths should be covered, allowing a narrow opening for them to drink from it.
A bird bath can be safe only if there is an outdoor GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter. This will keep birds safe from being electrocuted. Safeguarding the heated bird bath and maintaining it regularly keeps it safe and hazard-free.
How to Build a Heated Bird Bath?
Heated bird baths are created using a typical bird bath basin or bowl and an electric water heater. Some make DIY bird baths; others consider buying them online or in stores. It all comes down to your personal choices in the end!
While it is not very difficult to make a DIY bird bath, it is also essential to understand that they need to be made in such a way that they are safe for the birds, the house pets, and yourself. In a basin filled with shallow water and pebbles, place the electric heater or thermostat and ensure that it is hidden from plain sight. Install an outdoor GFCI or a ground-fault circuit interrupter; this is essential because it prevents birds or anyone from being electrocuted.
You can also install a solar bird bath to make a heated bird bath. The solar bird bath is not a highly complex concept. It is rather simple and helps save energy, and it also makes your bird bath sustainable. You can easily find these solar bird baths on online sites or in stores.
How to Choose the Best Heated Bird Bath?
Like regular bird baths, heated bird baths come in a wide range of choices. They differ from each other by the materials, styles, and types. Below are some points that should be considered before buying a heated bird bath.
This process is not rocket science because it is quite easy to understand. All you have to do is ensure that the water is above the freezing point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Heating doesn’t mean that the water will become warm or hot; it simply means that the water is kept above the freezing point.
Heated bird baths work by a heating element that turns on when the water starts to freeze. Similarly, the heating element turns off when the temperature increases. This means that as soon as water’s temperature is greater than its melting point, the heater gets switched off.
You may not necessarily buy a new heated bird bath. Instead, you can install a heating element controlled by an internal thermostat. It is quite a shortcut, isn’t it? However, if you have bird baths made up of concrete, or other porous materials, adding a heating element can prove to be quite detrimental.
A bird bath made with a sturdy material helps fortify the bird bath and ensures that it lasts long. Poorly made bird baths are dangerous as they may break easily. Bird baths can be constructed with materials such as fiberglass, plastic, or they can be an amalgamation of the two. A fragile bird bath cannot contain the heating element for long, which means that it will easily crack.
When purchasing a heated bird bath, it is essential to know the power wattage. The range is between 50 to 150 watts. Fifty watts is enough for a small bird bath; however, for a larger bird bath, a higher watt would be required. A small bird bath does not need more energy to get heated.
If you place the bird bath in the shade, it might consume more power to heat the bird bath. So, just place it in the direct sunlight to heat the water quickly.
As it is not advised for the birds to bathe in the winter, it is best to cover the bird bath and keep a narrow opening from which it can drink. Usually, a perching stick can be very helpful for the birds.
Prices of Heated Bird Baths
The price of the bird bath depends on two basic factors: the power wattage of the heated bird bath and the cost of electricity in your area. It is estimated that a 150-watt heated bird bath will cost $13.50 per month. This is again variable as the thermostat-controlled heated bird baths only switch on when the water starts to freeze. The weather conditions are not fixed, which is why a fixed amount cannot be estimated.
Tips to Use Heated Bird Baths
As the air is dry, the water evaporates at a faster rate in winters. That is why the water levels must be observed and filled whenever required. Most thermostat-controlled bird baths do not sense the water levels like they sense the temperature. So it is best to keep an eye on the water level.
Cleaning the bird bath is very vital and needs to be done all year round. If the water baths are not cleaned, they can be hazardous to the birds as diseases can spread easily. For the thermostat-controlled heated bird bath to work properly, the water and the basin require to be clean.
In most cases, the heated bird bath failures have occurred due to water or moisture coming in contact with the connection. The connection between the bird bath cord and the extension cord needs to be secured and protected. A lock and dry cord is a very simple and effective solution. An alternative can be to wrap the end of the cords with electric tapes. The ends can be placed in an airtight bag.
A perching stick can be placed near the heated bird bath. The heated bird bath can be painted black or any other dark color as they absorb heat or act as a radiator. A reflective surface or lighter colors for the heated bird bath is not the best choice in winters.
A bird bath fountain can be placed in the heated bird bath. The bird bath fountain helps the birds to drink easily as the entire bird bath is covered during the winter to prevent the birds from bathing in them.
Things to Avoid When Using a Heated Bird Bath
Anti-freezing substances should not be used in a heated bird bath as they are toxins and can affect the population of the birds. Instead, natural means should be used to keep the water from freezing, such as placing it in the sunlight and using heating elements.
The heated bird baths should not be constructed with concrete as they can crack in the winter. They are also not the best choice to place the heating elements in.
Heated bird baths solve a huge problem for many birds as they provide a reliable water source in the winters. Many anti-freezing agents tend to act as minor toxins and prove to be health hazards for the birds.
To make your bird bath even more convenient, place the bird bath under a shade so that it does not get covered with snow. By making the heated bird bath as convenient as possible, we can bring a more reliable water resource for the birds. The above-mentioned tips can be very useful in setting up a heated bird bath or creating a DIY bird bath.
Instead of utilizing snow to fulfill their needs for water, birds can turn to your heated bird bath during winters. And at the same time, you can get an opportunity to study them in winters.
You can set goals to bird-watch after you have placed your heated bird bath in your backyard and record your results.