Providing a water source for wild birds is a simple proposition. Just set out a birdbath, right?
But like a lot of things, especially when funds are limited, finding a birdbath that fits the bill isn’t as easy as it may seem.
As I shopped around I began to feel like Goldilocks– This one’s too heavy, this one’s too light, this one’s too pricey, that one’s not right. So I decided to make a list of the qualities I was looking for.
I wanted a birdbath that is:
• easy to clean
• not so lightweight it topples over in a wind
• not so heavy it endangers curious children
• a happy place for birds
What I decided on is a versatile and simple bird bath anyone can make. It consists of a base of three rods supporting a removable basin. The rods can be made from wooden dowels, metal conduit, or even old broomstick handles, which you might have on hand or can buy cheaply from any hardware store or home improvement center.
For the basin, you need a container with sloping sides and a maximum depth of three inches. It rests on the rods and can easily be removed for cleaning or swapped out when you just want a change.
What You Need:
• rods, approx. length 3 feet–(sugg. 1” doweling, 3/4” metal electrical conduit, old broomstick handles)
• basin (preferably a dish with sloping sides, maximum depth of 3”, & a textured surface
for good birdy footing)
• a pounder (hammer, mallet, or similar heavy tool)
• piece of scrap wood
1. Cut your rods to the optimal length depending on how deep you need to sink them in the ground for stability. If you have loose, sandy soil you will need to sink them deeper than if your ground is hard clay. I found the right length to be about three feet long.
2. Paint your rods. If using sections of metal conduit, be sure to wash them with a degreasing detergent to remove any oil and grime from manufacturing. Use exterior grade paint in your color (or colors) of choice. Allow to dry completely.
3. Choose the location of your birdbath. A semi-shaded spot with nearby shrubs or trees will entice birds due to the proximity of safe cover. Make sure you will be able to see the bath from your favorite bird-gazing window.
4. Pound the rods into the ground in a triangle orientation to provide a stable base. Using a piece of scrap wood between your pounder and your rods will cushion the blows. Use the size of the base of your chosen basin to determine the distance between rods.
5. You’re almost finished! Lastly, simply place the basin on top of the rods. Filling the bowl with water will tell you whether or not the base is level. Adjust the depth of the rods until the water level of the bowl is equal on all sides.
If you like, place a stone or two in the water for an extra perching spot. Sit back and enjoy the show!
Good Bowl Hunting
You’ll save even more on your bird bath if the bowl you use was bought for a song. If you’ve come up empty from your own cupboards, some of my favorite frugal haunts include Goodwill, Habitat For Humanity ReStore, AMVETS Thrift Center, and local charity secondhand sales. You’ll be helping a good cause as well as your neighborhood bathing beauties.
The Guest List
Everyone knows a bird bath is a great method of attracting more species to the backyard and increasing the avian entertainment factor for human observers. Depending on your area, birds you may begin to see more of include:
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