Chickadee at our birdbath ©Janet AllenBaby chickadee at our pedestal birdbath

Until we built our pond, we maintained a traditional birdbath on a pedestal as well as a large clay flowerpot saucer we put on the ground. Different birds seemed to prefer one or the other of these, so both were used.

Small creatures like chipmunks also use a ground-level source of water. SInce we've built our pond, we haven't always provided a birdbath, except in winter.

Tip about birdbaths

Birdbaths are pretty easy, but here are some of the things we've done when we have used birdbaths.

Keeping birdbaths clean

The hardest thing is to remember to regularly clean birdbaths. I scrub mine with an old vegetable brush about twice a week, depending on how much they've been used. This is important not just for the birds' health, but also to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. I keep my scrub brushes and old milk jugs full of water close by (at least in the summer) so it's as easy as possible to keep clean them.

Placement of birdbaths

We try to locate our birdbaths where birds feel safe using them. Generally, 10 to 12 feet from cover is the recommended distance. This is far enough away for them to see any predators (usually cats) lurking in the bushes, but close enough to escape to them. Birds don't easily come "up to speed" when their feathers are wet.

Dripping water

Dripping water attracts birds, so before we had our pond and stream, we tried both the commercial and homemade types.

The homemade one was simply a milk jug with a very tiny hole in the bottom suspended over the birdbath. Even with a small hole, though, it needed refilling too frequently.

The commercial one required that the hose always be on and connected. Neither was completely satisfactory, so we didn't use either one very long.