Winter Is Coming: Your Birds Need a Heated Bird Bath

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One of the best ways to help winter birds is to provide fresh water. Get expert winter bird bath tips, including our picks for a heated bird bath.

Why Do Birds Need a Heated Bird Bath?

What’s the best thing I can do for birds in winter? asks Liza Peniston of Augusta, Kansas.

bluebird on winter bird bathCourtesy Denise Lockwood
Eastern bluebirds sitting on the edge of a heated bird bath

With colder weather arriving in much of the country soon, it’s time to start thinking about how to make your backyard a haven for winter birds. Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman advise, “Unless there’s persistent and heavy snow cover, birds are quite adept at finding natural sources of food. But finding open water is more of a challenge. We recommend maintaining a source of clean, fresh water. In our backyard, we use a simple bird bath heater to keep water available all winter long. We’ve seen birds drinking and even bathing—which shouldn’t cause alarm—when the temperatures are below freezing. Clear snow off the edges of your heated birdbath so winter visitors, like northern cardinals, can access the water.”

Many birds that rarely visit feeders will stop by a heated bird bath for a drink. Here are our top heated bird bath picks, so birds have fresh water even in freezing weather.

The Best Heated Bird Baths

Detachable Heated Bird Bath

heated bird bathVia Amazon.com

Heated bird baths like this style are pretty reasonably priced, and you can plug them right into an outdoor outlet on your patio or 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.)

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Check out the 20 best bird baths and fountains for attracting birds.

Heated Bird Bath with Stand

heated bird bathVia Farm & Fleet

This bird bath is elevated on a metal stand, so it’s a great choice if you don’t have a deck railing or balcony. It’s also easy to move closer to your front door, so you won’t have to trudge through the snow drifts to fill it.

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Learn the best ways how to clean a bird bath.

Little Giant Heated Pedestal Bird Bath

pedestal bird bathVia Chewy.com

This classic, pedestal style heated bird bath looks sturdy enough so that it won’t blow over, even in a blizzard.

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Bird Bath De-Icer

bird water deicerVia Amazon.com

If you already have a bird bath in your yard that you love, add a de-icer for the winter months. Just plug it in and place it in the water. As a bonus, it gives birds a raised surface to perch on while they take a drink.

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More Winter Bird Bath Tips

robin on heated bird bathCourtesy Judy Aughey
A robin taking a drink from a winter heated 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 a Winter Bird Bath Wisely

Avoid concrete, stone, or glass bird baths in the winter, as they can crack if the water freezes. Shallow bowls are best, since birds may only use the bath for drinking when the weather is cold.

“I set a shallow 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,” says Margaret Retz of Boyceville, Wisconsin.

Is it safe to freeze hummingbird nectar?

Fill Bird Baths Frequently in Winter

If a heated bird bath is 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! Psst—Never add any kind of additives to your water to keep it from freezing. They are simply not safe for birds.

“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,” says Sherry Schoberg of Elkridge, Maryland.

Next, learn how hummingbirds survive snow and cold weather.

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find he reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.