how to keep a bird bath from freezing

How to Keep a Bird Bath from Freezing: 7 Tips & Tricks

It feels wonderful to just wake up every morning to a choir of birds singing their cheerful songs and bringing joy to your home. You get extra points if you have bird feeders and a bird bath in your backyard!

Yet, if you live somewhere cold, winter will cause the water inside the bird bath to freeze over, and those poor birds will have to look somewhere else to get some fresh water. This begs an important question: How to keep a bird bath from freezing?

Thankfully, you can do multiple things to ensure the water doesn’t freeze. You could add warm water to the basin periodically, invest in a heated bird bath, or change the location of the bowl.

Let’s discuss those tips in more detail, shall we?

7 Ways to Prevent Your Bird Bath From Freezing

blue jay on a frozen bird bath

With the nearby lakes and ponds already frozen over, your bird bath will surely seem divine to every bird that passes by. That is if you follow these steps to ensure the water’s temperature is good enough for a nice bath and a fulfilling drink!

1.   Make Sure the Water Moves

This tip may only work if you live somewhere that isn’t too cold. In this case, you’ll only need to keep the water in constant motion to reduce the chances of it freezing. So, how can you do that with minimal effort?

Easy. You could always install a cute little fountain in your bird bath. Not only is it usually affordable, but it’s also a breeze to set up. Plus, it comes with different nozzle sizes to suit small, medium, and large bird baths.

Author Note: You should still keep in mind that most fountains work with solar energy, so they may not be the best fit for cloudy winter days. For that reason, you could buy a water agitator instead since it’s powered by batteries.

2.   Invest in a Heated Bird Bath

If freezing temperatures are the norm where you reside, merely moving the water will do nothing to keep it warm. Here, you’re probably better off with a high-quality heated bird bath. And, the coolest thing about this product is that it’s available with many features to suit your needs.

For example, some heated bird bath models rest on a stand, making them great options if your porch or patio doesn’t have a railing. Others take the shape of a basin that you can mount to a railing or rest on a table or high chair.

These two heated bird baths are quite easy on the money, too, not to mention that they use electricity to warm the water inside them. Therefore, you won’t need to go out every once in a while to change batteries.

3.   Consider Buying a Bird Bath De-Icer

Some people would prefer not to give up on the beautiful bird bath that they’d chosen specifically to match the exterior of their house. So, if you’re not ready to buy a new heated bird  bath, you should probably invest in a bird bath de-icer.

This genius product is plugged into a power outlet, then you’ll only need to put it inside the bird bath. With its built-in thermostat, it should automatically control the temperature of the water and keep it from freezing.

Top Tip: Even better, the little body of the de-icer can be the perfect perch for a bird, providing more comfort as it’s drinking some fresh water. It’s the small things, people!

4.   Choose Another Location for the Bird Bath

frozen bird bath

Sometimes, we’re not really aware that the slightest things we do could change future events to a great degree. Too deep?

Here’s the less dramatic version. The place where you keep your bird bath might be the reason why the water inside it freezes so quickly. It may be in a shaded area of your backyard where no sun can reach it.

By changing the location and putting the bath somewhere with access to direct sunlight, it might take the water longer to become frozen. Again, this only works if you live somewhere with no extreme weather. Otherwise, the weak sun rays may not be much help after all!

5.   Fill Your Bird Bath With Warm Water Every Other Day

This method may not be as effortless as the previous ones, but it can be a short-term solution until your budget is ready to buy a heated bird bath. Simply, all you’ll have to do is keep the bird bath near a window so that you can reach it easily from inside the house.

Then, fill the little thing with warm water each couple of days or so. If it gets too cold, you can add water to it every day or several times a day. Remember not to use outright hot water because birds don’t like to drink it.

6.   Make the Surface Darker

This is another neat trick you could do to keep the water from freezing all too easily inside the bird bath. As you know, darker objects absorb more heat and become warmer faster than light-colored surfaces do, so you can use this knowledge to your advantage.

What you should do here is scatter black rocks or stones on the surface of the bird bath to help make the water warmer. If those aren’t within reach, you could put a sheet of black plastic or even a black plate on the bottom of the birdie bathtub. These should keep the water in its liquid form for longer. Pretty cool, right?

7.   Put a Small Ball in the Bird Bath

Again, we’re using Physics to get what we want. One of the smartest ways you can keep the water from freezing is by dropping a small ball in it. The ball will act as an icebreaker as it moves around the basin when the wind blows.

Top Tip: Extra points if the ball is made of black material to absorb some much-needed heat from the sun!

8.   Keep the Bird Bath Full All the Time

two house finches on bird bath

Sure, this won’t prevent the water from freezing eventually, but it’ll slow the process to a fantastic degree. The more water you have inside the basin, the longer it should take for the liquid to turn to ice.

This should give you more time to wait before you add warm water to the bird bath, which may be just what you need if you’re always in a rush.

3 Things You Shouldn’t Do to Keep the Bird Bath From Freezing

So far, every method we’ve discussed is considered safe to use with birds. Yet, your neighbor or co-worker may suggest other ways to deal with frozen bird baths, and these might be risky.

To make sure you’re doing the right thing, avoid following these guidelines so as not to harm your feathery buddies or end up with unwanted results.

1.   Don’t Add Salt or Any Additives to the Water

Yes, salts or antifreeze will slow down the freezing of water, which may sound heavenly at first. However, these substances can be toxic for birds once they’re consumed, which is why you should steer clear of them.

Don’t put any chemicals inside the water and use the power of nature instead to make it a bit warmer.

2.   Don’t Use a Space Heater Near the Bird Bath

Another thing a friend might suggest is to put an external heater right next to your bird bath to keep it from freezing over. And that’s a big no-no because space heaters and external heaters aren’t made to be used outdoors.

Author Note: Not only might that damage the appliance, but it could also increase the risks of short circuits and, ultimately, fires. Definitely not the wisest of ideas.

3.   Don’t Pour Hot Water into an Already Frozen Bird Bath

If the water turns to ice inside the basin and you need to melt it, you might just think it’s a good idea to add some boiling water to it to speed up the process. But Physics says that’s the wrong thing to do!

See, pouring hot water into the frozen water, or even trying to break the ice with strong hits, can cause the body of your dear basin to crack along with the ice.

Instead, you can use the help of warm water to allow the ice to melt gradually, and no damage should be done to the bird bath itself.

Final Words

birds enjoying a bird bath in winter

“How to keep a bird bath from freezing?” You might find yourself asking this question as the weather gets colder in celebration of winter. Well, after reading our guide, you now know there are numerous ways to achieve this goal.

You could buy a heated bird bath, invest in a de-icer, move the basin to a sunny spot, or even pour some warm water into it every now and then.

With so many tricks up your sleeve, you should be ready to provide a safe haven for your visiting birds in the cold weather.

Feels great, don’t you agree?


How often should you clean a bird bath?

Bird baths are a lifeline for our feathered friends but can be a danger to them if allowed to fester. Bacteria can grow in baths that are not cleaned often enough and make birds sick if they drink from it or bathe in it. Clean your bird bath 2-3 times a week. This could be as simple as tipping the water out and giving the bottom a quick scrub before refilling it.

What is a natural treatment for bird baths?

Distilled vinegar in a small amount, mixed with water can be used to clean a bird bath.

Should I just empty my bird bath in winter?

No, your birds may have come to rely on it during the summer, so you should continue to offer it in the winter. Use the methods above to keep it from freezing.

Comments 1
  1. it is minus 40 wind chill and I have been out three times today putting warm water in. It is now just past noon, there is a heater in the bath, it gets full sun but there not any sun due to the weather. any suggestions would help.

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