Selecting a bird bath for your habitat?

What features should you consider?

A bird bath is the most sure, economical way to draw wild birds into your world.

Bath and water feature variations seem endless.  So, where to begin?

The choice you make when selecting a water feature for your habitat is important to both you and the birds you want to attract.

This heated bird bath has a thermostatically-controlled heating element embedded in the bowl keeping the water ice-free on cold days.  Here, steam rises out of the bath appearing to be a miniature "hot tub" for wild birds on a frosty day.

The hollow pedestal accommodates an extension cord that travels up the inside to plug into the bottom of the bowl. 

In warm weather, simply remove and store the extension cord of your heated bird bath.

Water feature may evoke a mental picture of a pond or fountain, but it can be as simple as the rusted coffee tin grandmother lovingly filled with clean, cool water and placed in her inner-city kitchen garden. Habitat doesn't have to mean expansive lawns and gardens. It can be an apartment balcony. Birds need fresh water for drinking and bathing to keep their feathers healthy all year around and they aren't fussy about where they find it.

You don't have to spend a lot of money. An inexpensive shallow bowl of water, perhaps weighted with a rock or block of wood for birds to perch on, will appeal to them just as well as an expensive artisan stone pedestal bird bath placed in your flower garden. If you have grand ideas and space for waterfalls, go for it. There's a solution for every price range.

Why do you want a water feature? Primarily to draw the birds into your viewing area to enjoy birdwatching? Perhaps your reasons are strictly decorative to enhance your landscape. Defining your priorities can help drive your decision.

Who do you want to invite?
Consider other animals the water will attract. The occasional squirrel will hop up on a pedestal bath. If your model is at ground level, many more creatures will be interested by your offering. What critters live in your neighborhood that you want to welcome or that you hope will stay away? Specialty water features like misters invite hummingbirds that aren't built to use a bowl. Small birds won't bathe unless the water is very shallow but they'll gather on the edge of the bowl to sip.

Autumn leaves are beautiful but might mean an extra chore. It may be objectionable for them to cover the water surface. Birds in trees above the water may deposit droppings requiring more frequent cleaning. Placing the bath in a sunny location makes the water too warm in summer. Leave it in that same sunny location in winter and the birds will appreciate the warmth. Speaking of warmth, do you want to place a heated water feature in a frigid winter climate?

Designs and Styles.
The variety of styles available is nearly endless and you'll find a size and shape to suit yourself and the birds. Though some birds prefer ground bird baths (in nature that's where they find water - on the ground), they happily take advantage of the ever-popular pedestal bird bath.

In addition to these most common types of bird bath, consider a hanging bath or a mounted one for placement in trees and on decks and balconies.

And for some moving water interest, there are options for small and large baths in sprays, mists, drippers, falls, fountains, and ponds.  Some moving water features are powered by electrical connections, batteries and solar energy.

Baths are made from many materials:  plastic, stone, glass, fiberglass, metal, resin and more.  Consider the environment in which you'll place it and the birds you want to attract.  Will you want to keep it outdoors during cold winters?  Preferably, your bowl will have a textured surface to provide a good "footing" (if the surface is smooth, add some pebbles) and sloping sides so birds can walk in and out and so small birds and animals do not become trapped.

Don't fret over accessories.  If you are unsure of what you'll need, just observe and enjoy.  Add accessories as you need them.

Care and Maintenance.
Maintenance can be simple or complex depending on your setup.  There is one "cardinal" rule - keep it filled with clean, fresh water.

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