Whether or not we all want to admit it, winter is here and isn’t going anywhere…at least for a few more months. As we move into the colder months there are a number of steps you can take as a backyard birder to ensure your feathered friends have what they need to be comfortable this winter. While winterized birdhouses and the right seed are vital elements to the winter bird watching game, a reliable and available water source when the temperatures drop below freezing is essential as well.
As with most of us living on this beautiful planet, birds need water to survive and it can sometimes be difficult to come by for many birds. While running streams and rivers may retain a fair amount of open water during the winter, providing your birds with a bird bath during the winter months is sure to not only keep your resident birds happy but should also attract a number of other species who may not necessarily visit your feeders.
The best winter bird bath as you can guess is a heated bird bath or a birdbath with an insertable heater to keep the water from freezing. This is not to say that a heated bath is your only solution to running a traditional birdbath all year long.
There are, however, types of bird baths that tend to fare better in frigid months. If you own a solar bird bath, a decorative birdbath or one made of either concrete or ceramic, we would highly recommend you bring them indoors during the winter months as they can be susceptible to damage. If however, you are using a plastic or metal based bath, you should be able to keep it thawed most of the year for your birds.
Location, Location, Location!
Firstly, you will want to set the bath in a warm location that can benefit from the most amount of sunlight during the day as possible. Some folks have found that attaching a dark material or even a black garbage bag to the bottom of the bird bath does wonders for melting unwanted snow and ice on sunny days.
Add A Floater
Other folks have said that the use of a floating object like a plastic ball can help break up ice from forming as it bobs around and moves about with the wind inside the bird bath.
Perhaps the best, yet the most demanding way to ensure your bird bath does not ice over is constant monitoring and refilling. Making it a daily ritual to head out and change the water can go a long way in preventing ice buildup, obviously depending on the outdoor temperatures. Bringing a pitcher of hot water from your tap daily can also aid in keeping ice from forming as well, but again, we are talking some maj0or commitment for this one. Serious birders only need apply.
As we said, your ultimate bet for providing your birds with a reliable water source in the dead of winter is by offering a heated bird bath, which can be found in store. Some units are sold separately and can easily be immersed and require very little maintenance. Let us know if you have any tips and tricks you would like to share!