All About Solar Bird Baths

There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting and watching birds in your own garden.  This is now the second most popular hobby in the USA – the first one being gardening!  If you would like to bring birds in, you need to supply food, shelter and water.  Birds need water for drinking and bathing and an ornamental bird bath will supply both of those needs and enhance your outdoor space!  For ease of maintenance and for a variety of other reasons which we will cover, a solar bird bath is a great choice.

What is a Solar Bird Bath?

The bowl of the bird bath has a solar powered panel inside it.  During the day, the panel collects energy from the sun’s rays and this energy powers a pump which is inside a reservoir, hidden in the base of the bath.  The pump circulates the water around the bath (and through an integral fountain, if that is the design you choose) which prevents the water from becoming stagnant.

Does it Need Wiring or Plumbing in?

No – that’s one of the greatest benefits of a solar powered bird bath.  You can put it anywhere that you like as long as the surface is flat.  This opens up your garden design choices as you don’t need to have it near a power source or plumbing outlet. These baths are also don’t cost anything to run as there is no electricity involved and the sun’s rays are free!

What if it’s not Sunny?

If the weather in your area is changeable, look for a model which allows energy from the sun to either go directly to the pump or to charge a battery pack for night time and or for overcast weather.

What Sort of Maintenance Does it Need?

Solar bird baths are low maintenance.  Some people think that because the baths are solar powered, the water is heated but this is a misconception. In fact, a solar bird bath may be damaged by cold weather so the solar panel must be taken out and replaced with a regular insert during the winter.  This is quick and easy to do and only takes a matter of minutes. Like all bird baths, it is recommended that you clean it regularly.  You may choose to use natural enzyme treatments – such as those used in fish tanks- to keep the water fresher for longer.  This won’t harm the birds and will stop nasty slime from growing on your lovely bird bath.

What are the Advantages of a Solar Bird Bath?

They are better at attracting birds to your garden because the solar powered pump keeps the water constantly moving.  The birds have eyesight which can see changes in motion at great distance but they don’t see still water so well.  So they’ll notice your solar bath much more easily! Also, as mentioned, you get the pleasure of moving water (which may or may not include a fountain, depending on which model you choose) without the hassle of plumbing or electricity – which also gives you absolute freedom of placement. If you choose a regular bath with no pump, it is essential that you clean it out at least every three days.  Water that stands still for any longer than that can become a breeding place for mosquitoes which can carry West Nile Virus.  This could be very dangerous for you and the birds that come to your garden.

What is the West Nile Virus?

It can cause fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, sometimes with a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands. The illness can be as short as a few days or it can go on for longer.  Even previously fit and healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks.  In extreme cases, it can be fatal.  In 2008, 44 in the USA died from it.  If you would like to learn more about this, take a look at the Center for Disease Control’s West Nile Website. While you can use DEET based repellents to stop mosquitoes from biting you, birds are not able to do this and so they are a risk.  It’s virtually impossible to know how many birds in the wild have died from this but some tracking has been undertaken and it is known that tens of thousands have died in many states. A solar bird bath prevents standing water and so the mosquitoes have nowhere to breed.

Go Solar!

So you have no running costs, ease of maintenance, freedom of positioning, a good way to attract birds and safety for yourself and your feathered friends.  No wonder solar bird baths have become so hugely popular!