Winter Bird Bath Tips

Jill Staake

With colder weather arriving in much of the country, it’s time to start thinking about how to make your backyard a  haven for winter birds. One of the best ways is to provide a source of drinking water – many birds that rarely visit feeders will stop by a bird bath for a drink. Here are a few ways to keep water available for birds even in freezing weather.

Cardinal at Winter Bird Bath

Keep the Water Moving. If the temperatures aren’t too cold, just keeping the water moving can be enough to keep it from freezing. Try adding a Water Wiggler or small fountain to your birdbath. These are nice in warm weather too, when the moving water keeps mosquitoes away.

Choose Wisely: Avoid concrete, stone, or glass bird baths in the winter, as they can crack if water freezes. Shallow bowls are best, since birds will not bathe when the weather is cold. They will only use the bath for drinking.

Upgrade to a Heated Bath. These bird baths are pretty reasonably priced, and can plug right into an outdoor outlet on your back porch. They heat water just enough to keep it from freezing, without making it too warm. (Birds don’t want to drink hot water.) Buy a heated bath or add a heater to your existing bath, like this heated “rock” from Doctors Foster and Smith.

DIY: Handy with tools? Build your own heated bird bath with our plan and instructions.

Winter Bird Bath

Fill Frequently: If these options are out of your price range, try moving your bird bath close to a window and filling it with warm (not hot) water several times each day. It’s a short-term solution, but it also encourages you to keep on eye on your birds and makes you a better bird-watcher!

Pro Tip: Never add any kind of additives to your water to keep it from freezing. It’s simply not safe for birds.

How do you offer water to birds in the winter? Give us your own tips in the comments below!



  1. Ellen Nichols says

    Come winter I use a large heavy plastic plant saucer for a birdbath,when the water freezes I pop it out like an icecube and refill

  2. Kaytee says

    I have a heated dog water bowl, they are not as expensive as the heaters for bird baths. I just put some bigger rocks in it so the birds have something to perch on and they love it !!

  3. Debbi says

    We bought a aluminum feed pan for the water and put in on the deck. We bought a water heater at Tractor Supply and plugged it in the outside outlet. We had heavy snow and lots of it last winter. The birds were all over the deck, feeding, drinking water, they loved it. It worked perfectly.

  4. GeorgiaO says

    I used a bird bath heater for a couple years. Then came a flock of starlings who decided to take a bath on a freezing day. Needless to say, the water froze in their feathers. They sat in a tree shaking themselves for awhile and flew off. I can only hope that they survived. I felt so bad I haven’t used the heater for a couple of years now. Any suggestions???

  5. Lynne Lamp says

    The birds may not take baths in cold weather, but sometimes the Eurasian collared doves come and stand in the water. It’s as if they’re enjoying the rising warmth or warming their feet. I watched one, in particular, that went from snowy deck railing to bath edge, stood in the water for a minute and then repeated those actions a few more times.

  6. Bernie says

    Has anyone tried to put a bird bath near a gas purge vent on their house. Mine usually vents warm air every time the heat kicks on and should keep the water from freezing but I’m not sure if this might harm the birds. Also worried about something this close to the house. Any thoughts????


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