Many of us enjoy waking up to an excited robin on a spring morning or hearing a peaceful whippoorwill as the sun goes down on a summer evening. We watch the geese fly south in the fall, but sometimes we forget that many birds do not migrate and are left shivering through cold winters like us.
If you are already welcoming feathered friends into your yard with bird feeders and houses, another smart purchase is a heated birdbath. A heated birdbath is a great addition to your yard, as it will allow you to attract and sustain a variety of birds year-round.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a bird uses water for both drinking and bathing to remove parasites. During periods of cold weather, standard birdbaths will be extremely cold and uninviting if not frozen altogether.
A heated birdbath typically contains an internal thermostat that will maintain a water temperature above freezing, so that birds can continue to drink and bathe. They run on very little electricity, and most will operate only when needed (when the water temperature drops to a certain level) to make them even more affordable.
When choosing a heated birdbath, be sure to look for the following important features:
* Wide and Shallow Bowl – This shape will mimic the shallow puddles a songbird might use for bathing during the warmer months.
* Appropriate Mount – Be sure to select a bath that has mounting hardware appropriate for where you would like to keep your bath (railing clamp, deck or fence post, stand-alone legs). Many heated bird baths include hardware for several applications.
* Material – It is important to find a bath that will not crack or break in the colder temperatures, is easy to clean, and is unlikely to rust or stain when exposed to water. High quality plastic is a common choice.
* Easy to Clean – Like any bird bath, this should be easy to clean. A regular cleaning will ensure the birds have fresh water as often as possible.
Some popular models of heated birdbaths are discussed below. When purchasing a heated birdbath online, be sure to check the length of the attached electrical cord.
In many cases this cord is 15 inches or less, and an extension cord (purchased separately) is required. Use a cord rated for outdoor use to safely withstand the elements.
Popular Options for Heated Birdbaths
The Farm Innovators Model GBD-75 has a rust-free powder coated finish with a plastic insert for easy cleaning. An internal thermostat controls the bath so that it is powered only when necessary.
The kit offers three mounting options with hardware for deck/post mount, railing clamp, and separate legs. Owners of this model praise its ability to keep water liquid even at very low temperatures (it is tested to -10 degrees Fahrenheit).
This model does not have a large capacity, so if your bath is quite popular it may need to be filled more frequently.
The Allied Precision Industries Mounted Heated Bird Bath attaches securely to a deck railing for convenient bird-watching, but it does not require you to drill holes in your railing. The mounting mechanism has a convenient hinge for easy dumping of old or dirty water.
This model is plastic with an internal thermostat, and is tested to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. It is 20 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep, and it holds roughly 2 quarts of water.
If you are looking for a heated bird bath with its own stand, the Allied Precision Industries Model 970 is a popular choice. The bowl is made of crack-proof plastic and measures 20 inches in diameter.
This model has a textured surface and a special rim designed to make it more similar to a natural perch for small birds. The included metal stand measures 30 inches tall.
When using a birdbath on a stand remember that it may be more attractive and accessible to feral cats and other wildlife than one mounted higher up. If you welcome these additions to your heated bath, be sure it is stable and secure for them.
Our last option is perfect for those individuals that already have a birdbath that will not crack or rust with the changing weather. The K&H 9000 Ice Eliminator BirdBath 50-Watt De-Icer is a submersible heater that you use with your own bowl.
The unit is thermostatically controlled so that it will operate only when needed, and is guaranteed to maintain open water down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The heater itself is enamel coated and made to look like a rock so as not to stand out in your birdbath, but it can also be spray painted to more closely blend in.
For those with larger bird baths, an 80-watt model is also available.