Bird bath with running water ready when the birds are


UPDATE: This is not what I had in mind:

Site of future bird bath

In a recent post I used this photo of what I declared was my final design for the little nook out back. You know, “Ta-da!” Well, is there ever a “final” anything in the garden? Not any garden I’ve ever had.

One comment to that earlier post really stuck with me – “Looks like a lovely space. All it needs is a small water feature/bath to bring in the birds and a nice chair for you to sit and admire.” Well, I DO have chairs nearby – on the porch and a patio – but true enough, no water feature.

But that got me wanting a bird bath to replace a plant I was unhappy with. That’s the three ‘Cheyenne Sky’ red switch grasses under the window, where they had started flopping by June. Bad grass! (Okay, maybe bad site for it.)

Site with new bird bath

But doesn’t this bird bath look prettier, anyway? Me, I’m thrilled with it.

Here’s how I ended up getting it. I asked a local wildlife group if birds would actually use a bath in that location – yes, indeed, they assured me.

Then I asked where to buy one and was directed to Backyard Naturalist in Olney, MD. That’s where a friend bought hers, a wildly painted like this one above. The baths are called Bird Bath Art Poles and they’re ingenious, and so simple.

You just drive this metal pole into the ground a few inches – you turn it like an augur – then slip a hand-painted PVC pole over it. They’re stable – no tipping over – and it takes up less room in the border since the base is so slim. Made by Studio M. in Fenton, Missouri.

Selection of bird bath art poles

Here’s the selection I found at the store, and I chose the Farmhouse style with its more subdued colors. The stronger colors would be great in my front garden, though. Hmmm.

bird bath art pole with fountain, seen through porch screen

Let there be gurgling

Next, to produce the sight and sound of running water AND attract birds, I added this $20 floating solar-powered fountain, seen above through my porch screen. In full sun it shoots pretty high; in the shade there’s a short dribble. The fountain doesn’t store solar energy; so the height depends on the amount of light at the moment.

Customer reviews and others predict that this won’t last forever but at $20, I’m okay with that. Other, possibly longer-lasting models run all the time and have batteries that need replacing. This one is no hassle.

Birds, any time you’re ready

After a couple of weeks of absolutely no birds showing interest in their stunning and lively new bath, I moved it a few feet away onto the patio, close to my thistle feeder (the only feeder I have).

More weeks go by, and nothing. Then a few days ago, sitting on my porch I spied this:

This one exciting event wasn’t the start a string of regular visits, mind you, but it was sure encouraging. I’ll leave the bath here until it attracts more birds or until it’s time to move it against the house so I can plug in the heater that I bought.

Now birds, anything else I can get you?


  1. Very nice video! I see that in addition to moving the bath away from the house and closer to the bird feeder, you removed it from the stand. I have a ground level bird bath and one on a stand. The birds use the ground level bath much more often than the raised bath. I wonder if they prefer it closer to the ground?

    • Maybe. I’ve done the rock thing before but not with much success. It would have to be a pretty tall rock and it would take up a lot of space next to the sprinkler. But try it!

    • I was thinking the same, about putting a rock in the basin. I’m also hoping that you’ll post some more info about the up coming heater.

    • I’d try several pieces of river cobble in various sizes to allow different sized birds to choose their preferred depth. Ours serve finches to the occasional fledgling falcon.

  2. Can take the birds a while to find your water. Set up a little pond in an old wash tub, filled it with rocks for them to perch on and some nice plants. Took them a couple of months before they were confident enough to visit. Now it’s the place for their morning bath.

  3. Watching the video it is apparent the bird is afraid of falling into too deep water. Unfortunately, bird baths are often made with human aesthetics in mind instead of the bird’s need. The sides are steep and slippery. I made my birdbath from a terracotta 16 inch pot saucer. The edges are thick and provide good gripping. The bottom is flat and only a little over an inch deep. Birds have little fear of it. I placed it on a pedestal I made from an old tree stump cut to about 3 to 4 feet. First I placed an inch of sand on the ground, tamped it down, and leveled it. On top of that a 1 dollar 16 inch cement stepping stone from the home store. The stump sits on top of that keeping it off the soil. I put 3 galvanized screws in the top of the stump about 8 inches apart in a triangle. The screws can be screwed up or down to make them level with each other using a bubble level. Place the pot saucer on that and fill with water that will be level. It is easy to clean since the sauce just sits on the screws and the terracotta is heavy enough to keep it in place even if a squirrel visits. I’ve had it for at least 10 years and the stump has not deteriorated yet.
    It looks natural in the landscape too. I’d send a picture, but not sure if they can be uploaded.

  4. Cats can be a problem, easily solved by making a circular wire fence around the bird bath. Simple or dolled up with spray paint and geegaws, that will help keep birds safe. As Dale said, try truly taking the bird’s needs into account, not just whatever you think ‘looks neat’. My own changed perspective has resulted in more birds in my yard than five years ago when my gardening was still driven by my human-centric book/magazine/etc but bird blind fantasies & obsessions.

  5. I think your birdbath in the photo is too close to the ground. Birds will feel too vulnerable when the bath is this low. The birdbath on the raised log is at a much better height.

  6. I have a water cascade feature with a small pond and the birds do enjoy the water cascade. I filled the individual cascade pools with various sizes rocks to make it look more “natural” and while some of the birds prefer the small birdbath (also filled with a shallow bowl with rocks in it) the cowbirds especially have a blast frolicking in the cascade. Watching them from the blind of my nearby screen tent has been a highlight of an otherwise pretty dismal summer.


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