Concrete bird baths are easy to find, durable, and convenient, but they aren't always the best choice for backyard birders. Understanding the pros and cons of concrete baths can help you choose the best bird bath for your flock.
About Concrete Bird Baths
Molded cast stone and concrete bird baths are popular designs for many yards and gardens, and they come in a wide range of styles and designs. Pedestal bird baths are the most popular and include a concrete pillar base and detachable basin. Ground level concrete baths are also available, and are just the basin without the pedestal.
Basic gray is the most common color for concrete baths, though they can be painted in different shades if desired. Tinted concrete can also be used, and different colors include ivory, black, or gray, and some concrete mixes even include crushed mosaic chips for a multi-colored, textured effect.
There is a staggering range of designs for concrete bird baths, from simple, plain baths to elaborately carved motifs. Popular designs include:
- Different geometric basin shapes, including squares and rectangles
- Fluted baths or undulating or scalloped rims
- Shell, leaf, or similar nature-inspired shapes for the full basin
- Stylized Asian, Grecian, or Roman architecture
- Natural themes with wood, vines, stones, leaves, or animals as accents
In addition to the design details, the height of the pedestal and width and depth of the basin may vary. When choosing a bird bath, consider all of these features to find one suitable for your birds, garden theme, and aesthetic preferences.
Pros and Cons of Concrete
Any bird bath design has good points and bad points. Understanding these pros and cons can help you choose the best bird bath for your needs.
The pros of concrete baths include:
- Durability: Concrete baths are hard to chip or break accidentally, and with proper care the bird bath can last for years.
- Sturdiness: Positioned properly, the bath will not tip on a windy day or if bumped while gardening or mowing the lawn.
- Variety: With so many designs to choose from, it is easy to find a concrete bird bath you enjoy and that matches your garden decor.
Cons of concrete baths include:
- Weight: These are not easily portable baths, and can be hard to move for cleaning, repositioning, or winter storage.
- Texture: Concrete is porous and will grow algae if the bath is not cleaned regularly, and cleaning can require more elbow grease.
- Leaks: Because of concrete's texture, it can develop leaks and cracks if it is not protected in cold weather.
Where to Buy Concrete Bird Baths
Concrete baths are readily available at many major retailers, including home improvement stores, garden centers, landscaping nurseries, and lawn ornament stores. Online retailers, however, typically offer a wider range of bird bath styles and designs. Online retailers offering a varied selection of concrete bird baths include:
The cost of concrete baths varies based on the size and design of the bath, as well as the retailer. Inexpensive, basic designs can be as low as $15, while more elaborate, higher quality bird baths can cost $200 or higher. If ordering a concrete design online, consider shipping charges for the weight when calculating the final cost, as well as any handling needs to ensure the bath arrives safely.
Caring for Concrete
If cared for properly, a concrete bird bath can last for many years no matter how many birds frequent it to keep cool or get a refreshing drink.
- Clean the bath regularly with a stiff brush and a moderate bleach solution to discourage algae growth. Rinse thoroughly, and allow the bath to thoroughly dry in the sun before refilling. This will break down any leftover chlorine in the basin and further inhibit algae growth.
- Position the bath in a level area, preferably in the shade where algae will grow more slowly. If possible, position the bath out of any high activity areas where it would be more prone to being bumped or unbalanced. Keeping the bath away from feeders will also help keep it clean longer.
- Protect the bird bath from cracking in freezing temperatures by allowing it to dry thoroughly and placing it in a garage or shed during the winter. If it is not possible to move the bath, cover it with 2-3 layers of sturdy plastic, such as painter's plastic or plastic trash bags, to keep it dry through the winter.
Concrete bird baths can be a great addition to any bird-friendly landscaping, and birders will enjoy watching different bird species drink and bathe in an appropriate bath.