The Backyard Naturalist's deck-mounted, heated bird bath attracts a crowd of Robins on a snowy day.

Wild Birds, Winter and Water

Birds Need Water in Winter

We can’t say enough about how important water is to the survival of our wild birds year round, but winter is especially challenging for them. So please keep a dependable and available water source in your backyard bird habitat year round.

Water in winter? Brrr! Yes, wild birds need our bird baths in winter! Maybe even more than they do in summer. In fact, it's critical for their survival during cold weather.
Here’s why:

  • Birds drink water. Their usual water sources are tougher to access under ice and snow. (Info about how to keep your bird bath ice-free is below.)
  • Bathing is essential to their good health. Bathing aids in preening which aligns feathers for optimum insulation and…oddly enough…waterproofing!

So, please don't stop maintaining your bird bath during winter. Get your bird bath ready for cold weather. We can help!

Winterize your bird bath!

The Backyard Naturalist’s guide for winter wild bird hosts:

  • Already have a bird bath? Add a de-icer.

    Heated Rock Deicer to keep the water in your backyard bird bath from freezing over in winter. If your bird bath is made of concrete or ceramic, our area’s winter weather patterns of ‘freeze and thaw’ can cause cracks that will destroy it over time. So, to prevent cracking, place a de-icer in your bird bath top or you will need to put it away for the winter.

    Substitute with a bird bath made of sturdy plastic, granite or metal. You will still need a de-icer to keep water unfrozen and accessible to the birds. We recommend the ‘Heated Rock De-Icer’. It has a thermostat and activates when temperatures drop.

    Or, choose a bird bath with electric heater built in.

  • To keep your bird bath clear of ice and snow, we recommend you add an electric de-icer to help 24/7 during freezing temperatures. (They are easy to use and economical to operate! Ask us!) We're not talking jacuzzi here!!! Just keeps the water from freezing solid!
  • Keep the water accessible consistently!!!  Not only will your regular feeder visitors appreciate it, once established you will likely lure in non-seed eaters, too. Those of you lucky enough to have Bluebirds visit know what we’re talking about…
  • Locate bird baths away from places where predators are lurking. Free-roaming cats are deadly for wild birds. (Please, keep your cats indoors!) When you’re in the store, ask us for the pamphlet on this topic from The American Bird Conservancy.
  • Refill with fresh water daily and as needed. Keep an eye on the water level. Some birds are seriously active splashers! But, only 2-3 inches deep max! If your bowl is deeper, add some rocks.
  • NEVER add chemicals of any kind. They can be fatal, even in small doses.
  • Clean your bird bath by scrubbing with baking soda, lemon juice or white vinegar. Rinse really well.

There’s no better way to brighten up a dreary winter day when you’re stuck inside! Watching birds congregate and appreciate your bird bath will bring hours of joy. Don’t miss out on the opportunity for some great winter birdwatching while supporting your backyard birds!