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Birdbath Care and Maintenance

There is some work to maintaining a birdbath but it is well worth any effort for all the hours of enjoyment you receive from watching the birds.  The birds benefit from a fresh source of water.

Change the water every few days (2-4 days are typical times), if it is not re-circulated through a filter system. A simple flush with a garden hose is all it takes. The amount of use by the birds will determine how often the water needs to be changed. Frequent changes minimize pollution from bathing birds, will prevent mosquito larvae from developing and will slow the growth of algae.

The bath may need to be scrubbed with a brush to keep algae at bay. There are products (offered by companies like Carefree Enzymes Inc. and others) that provide bird-safe water treatment to help control the growth of algae.

If algae growth becomes a problem, use a 10% bleach and water solution to clean the bath. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after cleaning with a bleach solution. A 50-50 mix of vinegar and water can also help remove algae.

If the design of your birdbath supports it, a small pump or re-circulation system is a good idea. A filter arrangement helps keep the water fresh and moving water will control the development of mosquito larvae.

Cold weather use
Several days of freezing weather can limit the availability of free water. A heated birdbath can be just the ticket for a cold, thirsty bird. A variety of heaters are available for birdbaths.

Some birdbath designs include a built-in heater. Heaters require electricity. Be sure to use an electrical circuit with a ground fault interrupter.

birdbath heater

Birdbath heater

If you do not use a heater, be sure to drain the water from your birdbath, hoses and pumps. Do not add glycerin or other additives to the water to prevent it from freezing.

West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of a mosquito. You can not contract the disease by standing next to a birdbath. Refreshing the water in the birdbath every few days will prevent mosquito larvae from maturing.

Quick Hits

Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks feed on other birds. They will sometimes hang around feeders in hopes of capturing an easy meal.  They only take what they need to eat, so they are not going to eat any more song birds by visiting your feeder station.  If you are concerned, take down your feeders for 3-4 weeks.  The raptors will usually move on.