Water is a great way to attract birds to your backyard…even in the winter months. Usually, a dish or ceramic bowl will do the trick, but readers have come up with some great tips for ways to keep their bird baths open in winter. Here are five of our favorites.
I made my own heated bird bath by lining a 5-gallon bucket with old carpet and filling it halfway with gravel. Then, I inserted a light socket with a 60-watt lightbulb into the bucket and set a dish of water on top. (Use extreme care that you don’t splash water onto the socket. Always use a GFI outlet.) The light heats the rock, which keeps the water in the dish from freezing. —Larry Vink, Topeka, Kansas
I don’t have a heated bird bath, but I still provide water for my winter birds during the cold season. In the morning when the water in my bird bath is frozen, I simply pour hot water over the ice. This quickly loosens it, and I pop the ice right out of the bird bath. Then I refill it with warm water. When it’s really cold, I’ll do this a few times a day. —Sherry Schoberg, Elkridge, Maryland
To provide water for birds in winter, I fill a metal bucket with hot ash from my fireplace. Then I’ll take the ash outside and set a metal dish on top of the bucket and fill it with water. The ashes keep the water from freezing for quite a while. —Erma Evans, Garfield, Arkansas
I set a dish filled with water on a barrel located just below a window. Because the water freezes quickly, I just open the window, remove the ice that accumulates in the dish and refill it. It’s very convenient, and the birds appreciate my extra effort. —Margaret Retz, Boyceville, Wisconsin
To provide water for the winter birds, I fill a shallow metal pan with water and clamp an auto repair light below it. A 60-watt lightbulb keeps it thawed. —Diana Austin, Douglasville, Georgia