How Deep & What Color Should A Birdbath Be?

If you are a bird lover, you know that there’s nothing more satisfying than watching a small flock of birds frolicking around your backyard.

Apart from installing enough feeders, the other sure way to keep your garden more attractive is adding a bad bath.

Just like most other animals, birds will move leaps and bounds to access fresh and clean water for both drinking and bathing purposes. 


Of course, you can just choose to buy a ready-made bath from a garden shop but that won’t help you much, as most types in the market are either too deep, difficult to clean, or too slippery.

A homemade birdbath that looks and feels like the natural ones is, on the contrary, more effective in attracting different types of birds. 

Do Bird Bath Need to Be Shallow?

Yes, bird bathes need to be relatively shallow. Apart from the fact that birds are generally short-legged, the natural birdbaths – which most birds are used to – are also shallow. The ideal depth for a bird bath is anywhere between 1-3 inches.

The sides should preferably be shallow (1 inch deep at the maximum), while the middle can be deeper.

That way, you can cater to both the birds that only want to quench their thirst without getting wet (very important during winter) as well as those who fancy a bit of fun. 


How Big Does a Bird Bath Need to Be?

Well, birds are naturally used to drinking, and frolicking at all sorts of water bodies, from shallow pools to streams and puddles, so the size of your bird bath doesn’t really matter.

Nonetheless, both large and small models have their pros and cons, which you may want to consider before deciding what size to build. 

For instance, smaller bathes are easy to build and clean but the limited space can lead to deadly territorial conflicts when a bigger number of birds come around.

Larger baths can accommodate bigger flocks and hold more water – minimizing the number of times you need to refill – but are also relatively challenging to build, move, and clean. 

Simply put, the size of your prospective birdbath should be a factor of; where you live, the type and number of birds you hope to attract, the resources you have at hand and those you’ll need, and most importantly, which size constraints you are comfortable dealing with. 

I recommend you check How to Make Birds Good For Your Vegetable Garden.

Can a Bird Drown in A Bird Bath?

Yes, birds can inadvertently drown in a birdbath that is overly deep. And while drowning is generally a pretty rare occurrence, it is commonplace in certain species like songbirds, which are naturally poor swimmers.

Smaller birds are also susceptible to drowning when they move to a deeper part of the bath, which is why it’s strongly advisable to keep the depth below 3 inches. 

If you are a budgie lover, check 5 Best Bird Bath for Budgies.

Should You Put Rocks in a BirdBath?

Yes, you should definitely throw some rocks, and marbles into your birdbath. They will make the bath a bit shallower and further provide the birds with a solid footing in case they start to sink, or when they only want to have a drink without getting into the water.

During winter, or the days when you don’t want the birds to get wet, you can arrange some sticks on top of the bath’s surface to serve as a psychological surface barrier.

If you choose this path, try to also cover any deep-water surfaces in the surrounding areas, such as open tanks, basins, and rain barrels. 

Do birdbaths need to be elevated?

No, you do not need to build an elevated bird bath but it also won’t cause any problems if you do.

As we mentioned earlier, most birds are used to ground-level water sources like puddles, streams, and raindrops on the grass. As such, the first place they look for water is near the ground. 

With that said, most smaller birds would take to an elevated bath very well as it gives them a larger and clearer field of view, which helps them monitor predators.

Larger birds like doves and ducks will, of course, fancy ground level bathes as they’re easier to access. 

You might be interested in Are Birds Scared Of Humans.

What is The Best Height for A Bird Bath? 

The ideal height should range between 1 and 3 feet off the ground. Baths within these ranges are typically more accessible to a larger variety of birds, are relatively more stable, and very easy to refill and clean.  

If you wish, you can install your bath at a higher height, such as on your deck rail or balcony, but you need to be aware of the disadvantages, which include added instability and the consequent risk of swaying or falling over.

On the plus side, you will get much better views of the birds drinking and playing around, while also keeping most pests at bay. 

Are ceramic bird baths a good idea?

If you live in a generally warm place, a ceramic bath would be a pretty good idea since the material is stable and rough enough for the birds to latch on to.

However, if you live in a cold region, or during winter, you may want to avoid using ceramic, or glass, or even mosaic as these materials can severely expand and subsequently crack when exposed to freezing temperatures.

Ceramics Birthbaths

In no time, they will start leaking or even collapse completely, taking you back to square one. 

What color should a bird bath be?

Fun fact: birds have a better sense of color than humans, and thus, base their perceptions of their environment on the present colors.

Most species are particularly attracted to arrays of bright and colorful colors like red, orange, yellow, blue-green, and purple.

You should therefore consider integrating any, or several of them in your bath design. Some species, like doves and quails, fancy camo colors like gray, and green as they have more cautious temperaments. 

What colors do birds not like?

While different bird species will have their own likes and dislikes in this regard (finches, for instance, hate the sight of anything red), the most commonly disliked color is white.

Most birds relate the color white (in whatever shade) with potential danger and will either get aggressive or keep away when they see a white surface.

As a matter of fact, many bird species have white patches in their plumage that they flash to warn other birds, or ask for help when they encounter danger. 

What colors do birds see?

Birds are classified as tetrachromats. This means they have 4 visual cones, which can process 4 colors, namely: blue, green, red, and Ultraviolet.

In contrast, humans (trichromats) have 3 cones and can see and process 3 colors; red, blue, and green.

As such, birds have a higher range of color vision than humans, which is especially remarkable, seeing as Ultraviolet is not a color in itself, but an entire spectrum of colors that are wholly invisible to us. 

For instance, a combination of red and yellow shades will appear to you as the color orange, but thanks to their wider color palette, birds are able to see the two colors separately.

Further, they can also see the colors that are reflected by UV rays (invisible to us). This explains why species like Chats, which we consider to have look-alike sexes, are able to see and select their mates. 

Can birds drink tap water?

Short answer; yes. Long answer; it depends on the quality of tap water in question. 

Generally speaking, if the water is safe enough for humans, it is more than safe for birds and other animals.

If you’re not sure about the quality and safety of the tap water in your area, you may want to filter it first before putting it in the bath or get some bottled water. 

what is the best material for a birdbath?

Well, there are two ways to look at this. If durability is your main concern, the best materials you can use are concrete, metal, resin and hard plastic, as they will weather most sorts of climatic and physical disturbances.

If you are more into good aesthetics, you may use the above-mentioned glass, ceramic, and mosaic materials, as they give you more leeway to add your favorite colors.

In simple terms, there is no one material that can be categorized as the “best” when it comes to making bird baths.

It’s all about what you want to achieve aesthetically, as well as your climatic environment. 

What is the best bird bath to buy?

Simply put, the best bird bath to buy is the one that fits better within your cost and landscape constraints.

Most importantly, it should be able to attract a larger number of your preferred bird types.

But since you probably don’t know where to start, I would advise you to start with small, simple designs, particularly ground-level basins, and then upgrade as you see fit.

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Final thoughts

Building a bird bath involves only a small number of rules, with most of the process being easily modifiable to suit your preferences and circumstances.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with adequate information and knowledge to make a more informed and logical choice.

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