Choose Your Best Bird Bath

House finch in a bird bath

regan76 / Flickr / CC by 2.0

There are many types of birdbaths to choose from, and both birders and gardeners should carefully consider many factors about design, construction, and convenience before they choose a birdbath. By making a careful choice, the birdbath you select is more likely to attract a wide range of beautiful bird species to your yard.


It can be overwhelming to visit a garden center or wild bird store and see the vast selection of different birdbaths available. Fortunately, with careful consideration, you can narrow down which bath is best for you and your birds. When deciding between different birdbaths, consider the following:

  • Size: Small bird baths are easy and convenient, but a larger model can accommodate a greater number of birds without causing territorial conflicts. At the same time, a larger bath can be more challenging to move or clean, though the fact that it will hold more water can also be a benefit, whereas smaller baths may dry out more quickly.
  • Appearance: If you choose a birdbath design you don’t like, you will be less inclined to keep it clean and filled. Choose a bath that fits well with your garden décor, personality, and style preferences to ensure that you can enjoy it even without birds.
  • Landscape Proportions: Choose a birdbath that not only visually matches your garden, but one that is a suitable proportional size as well. A very large, ornate birdbath fountain may seem pretentious and out of place in a tiny yard, while a very small, simple design can be lost in a lush, elaborate garden.
  • Bird Comfort: The best birdbaths are designed with birds in mind. A narrow lip is a more comfortable perch for small birds, and the material of the bath should offer some texture for tiny talons to grip. An ideal basin will be 1-2 inches deep, and some models include both shallow and deep areas of the basin to accommodate birds of different sizes.
  • Water Movement: Moving water will attract more birds than stagnant water in a simple basin. A birdbath that includes a dripper, mister, water spray, bubbler, or fountain is a better choice to attract a wide range of bird species. Furthermore, moving water will minimize insects and algae growth, which will keep the bath cleaner with less maintenance.
  • Height: The height of the birdbath is critical for which birds will readily drink from it. Smaller birds are comfortable at taller baths that give them a better field of view, while larger birds such as doves, quail, and ducks prefer to drink from ground level basins.
  • Cleanliness: Elaborate bird bath designs with detailed sculptures or delicate mosaics can be more challenging to keep clean and free from damage. Simpler styles, such as concrete birdbaths or basic plastic basins, maybe the best choice for ease of cleaning and overall durability. Some materials, such as glazed basins or copper birdbaths, may stay naturally cleaner.
  • Design: Whether you choose a hanging bird bath, pedestal model or other basic design should depend on where you plan to put the bath. A hanging model is not the best choice if you don’t have a safe place to hang it from, and a broad pedestal birdbath isn’t a good option for a yard with no suitable level areas.
  • Climate: The best bath for your yard is one you can use year-round to provide a liquid water source for the birds. If you live in northern regions with long winters, a sturdy heated bird bath is the best choice. If you live in warmer areas, however, you may be more interested in a birdbath with a larger capacity that will not evaporate in just a few hours.
  • Cost: A birder’s budget can be meager or extravagant, but the most important thing to remember about a bird bath’s cost is that birds don’t read price tags. Choose the best bird bath model you can within your budget and the birds will be happy to drink from it or take a quick, refreshing dip. You could even make a DIY birdbath on a very limited budget and still have an attractive, effective water feature for the birds.

Choosing More Than One

There may not be any one birdbath perfect for your yard or garden. Many birders have several baths of different sizes, styles, and heights scattered throughout their yards to offer a greater range of drinking and bathing options for the birds and to eliminate crowding or competition at water sources. Some birders also rotate bird baths throughout the year, using heated models during the winter and solar bird baths during the summer in order to attract the most birds. Whatever bird baths you choose, if you have carefully considered the options with your budget, garden, style, and birds in mind, it will be a great choice to bring thirsty birds to your yard.