When temperatures drop and water freezes, birds can have a tough time finding a place to drink, preen, and bathe. Birds can use snow to meet their needs, but it costs them metabolic energy that they could be using to keep warm. Heated bird baths give our feathered friends a better chance of surviving winter.
Heated baths provide a water source for birds in the coldest months, with the additional benefit of giving avian enthusiasts and watchers a way to observe birds in the off season. If water is scarce in the area, a heated bird bath could draw a lot of feathered creatures to your property.
Read on to learn more about how to pick the best heated bird bath for your backyard.
- BEST OVERALL: Songbird Essentials Heated Birdbath
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: API Bucket or Bird Bath Deicer 200 Watt
- BEST DEICER: Farm Innovators Model B-9 Economical Birdbath De-Icer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Heated Bird Bath
Heated bird baths come in a variety of styles and types, just as regular bird baths do. On some models, owners can control the water temperature, while other baths heat the water just enough to prevent it from freezing.
Before shopping for a heated bird bath there are a few important decisions to make, including where on the property the bird bath will go and how it will be connected to a power source. Read on to learn more.
There are two main types of heated bird baths to choose from: mounted and pedestal.
Mounted bird baths basically consist of a basin and a bracket for mounting it to either a deck railing or a wall. These bird baths tend to be smaller and more affordable than pedestal baths. They’re great options for apartment balconies or homes with small decks.
Pedestal bird baths, which are also referred to as one-piece bird baths, are larger and require more yard space. Because of their size, they’re also more expensive. There’s a larger selection of pedestal models—more color options, and lots of different designs—than mounted models. Some pedestal heated bird baths are even designed to hide the electrical cord.
When choosing a high-quality heated bird bath, it’s important to check the product’s power wattage. Most heated bird baths run on 50 to 150 watts of power. Though 50 watts might be enough to keep water in a small bird bath from freezing, you’ll need more wattage to warm a larger bath.
As is the case with any other household appliance, the lower a heated bird bath’s wattage, the less expensive the electricity to run it will be. Kilowatts per hour cost an average of 12 cents, so powering a 75-watt bird bath would cost $6.70 a month if it is always turned on.
Don’t forget, where you place your heated bird bath can also affect how much energy is required to keep the water from freezing. Situating the bath in direct sunlight will keep the water warmer than it would be in the shade.
The way a heated bird bath is mounted and kept in place has a lot to do with the type of bath it is. Most pedestal baths are fixed to a metal stand or a plastic pedestal, while mounted styles will usually come with a bracket that attaches to a deck railing.
Some deck-mounted models have a handy tilt feature that makes the basin easier to clean. You simply tilt the basin down, dump out the old water, and refresh the supply.
There are a few heated bird baths on the market that offer the flexibility of being mounted on a deck railing or cradled on a pedestal. Their versatility comes at a price—these models are usually pretty expensive.
Look and Materials
It’s important to choose a heated bird bath that’s made of long-lasting materials; those that are shoddily constructed are not likely to hold up to the elements. The best heated bird baths are made out of fiberglass, plastic, or a combination of both.
For those who want to use their bird bath year-round, take heed: If you plan to use a deicer make sure the bath is not made of ceramic or concrete, because heating these materials can cause them to crack. There are a few concrete heated bird baths on the market, but they’re not recommended for this very reason. Porous surfaces absorb water, and if that water freezes and is thawed out by the product’s heating element, the bath may crack.
Depth and Size
Most heated bird bath basins are approximately 20 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. Of course there are models with larger and smaller basins, but a 20-by-2-inch model is wide enough to provide birds ample bathing space, and deep enough for them to submerge and still walk around.
Larger bird baths are designed to hold more birds or larger species, though larger birds tend to prefer ground baths over a pedestal or mounted bath. Smaller bird baths are perfect for homes with little yard space, or apartments with balconies. Make sure to measure the area you plan to place the bird bath before shopping.
All heated bird baths are designed to keep the water temperature above the freezing point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. They don’t heat the bath to the point where the water gets hot or even warm, but just enough above freezing so birds can comfortably bathe in it, as they would in any other water sources in their natural habitat.
Heated bird baths function via a heating element controlled by an internal thermostat, which turns on when the temperature drops to freezing. When the outside temperature rises above 32 or so degrees Fahrenheit, the heating element turns off.
Those with regular bird baths can purchase deicers or heating elements that can heat the bath’s water. As is mentioned above, it is not advised to install these elements in bird baths that are made of concrete and other porous materials.
Most heated bird baths have a built-in internal thermostat that monitors ambient temperature, and turns the heating element on and off automatically when the temperature reaches a certain level. Heated bird baths with this type of thermostat are economical because the heater is only running in frigid temperatures. Some deicers on the market, too, are thermostat controlled.
Again, placing a heated bird bath in a sunny area can help it operate more efficiently. The sun’s warmth will help thaw the ice, and keep the heating element from running unnecessarily.
Our Top Picks
The best heated bird baths prevent water in the basin from freezing, and give our feathered friends a comfortable place to bathe and drink in cold weather. Top-quality baths are durable, resist cracking, and are easy to clean and maintain.
The recommended bird baths below are the best in their categories. Whether you’re looking for a small, deck-mounted model or one on a pedestal, this list is a good starting place to find a suitable bird bath for your backyard.
Songbird Essentials’ heated pedestal bird bath is beautifully designed with long-lasting red cedar surrounding the plastic, 14 1/4-inch basin. This bath comes with a double-ring heater that automatically turns on when outdoor temperatures reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and has an insulated foil heating element that’s protected from wildlife and harsh weather.
The bath’s 1 3/8-inch-deep basin holds a half-gallon of water, which remains warm in temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit. The pedestal’s post is hollow, so users can stow the power cord inside when it’s not in use.
The 200-watt API Bucket or Bird Bath Deicer keeps water from freezing in bird baths that do not have built-in heaters. This budget-friendly, stainless steel deicer has a built-in thermostat that will automatically turn off and on based on the temperature outside.
API’s deicer has an adjustable clamp that allows the user to mount it to a bird bath or bucket, and its heating element is fully enclosed to protect birds and other wildlife. It’s powered by a 6-foot long anti-rub cord and is suitable for use in containers holding 15 gallons or less. While you can use this deicer in most bird baths, it’s not recommended for ceramic or concrete models.
Farm Innovators’ Model B-9 bird bath deicer is a terrific device for those who have a standard bird bath that they’d like to heat in colder months. Though it can be used in baths of most shapes and sizes, the B-9 is ideal for shallow bird baths that are no more than 2 inches deep. It is not recommended for use with bird baths made out of ceramic or concrete as they could crack.
The device itself is affordable, and the fact that this deicer runs on just 44 watts of power means that it’s not too costly to operate, either. One downside to this product is that its grounded, 3-prong power cord isn’t very long, so you’ll have to keep your bird bath close to an outlet or use an extension cord.
FAQs About Your New Heated Bird Bath
Now that you know how to select the best heated bird bath, it’s time to answer any remaining questions you might have about these products. Below is more valuable information about how to properly care for a heated bird bath and attract more local birds to it.
Q. How do you attract birds to a heated bird bath?
Make sure it’s visible in a good, sunny location, and keep the water clean.
Q. How do you heat a bird bath in the winter?
Invest in a heated bird bath if you’d like to provide avian friends with water during the winter. If you already have a regular bird bath, purchase a heating element such as a deicer to heat frigid water.
Q. Should I put rocks in my bird bath?
Yes, putting rocks in your bird bath can make it easier for birds to stand while bathing.
Q. Why won’t birds come to my bird bath?
If birds are not coming to your bird bath, it’s possible that your water isn’t fresh or the bird bath isn’t clean. Give your basin a good scrub with a 9:1 ratio of water to vinegar and refill it with fresh water.