The importance of bird baths

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Quite a few of the photos shown on this site are of birds at one of the bird baths we have in our garden. Providing water by means of a bird bath is one of the most effective ways of attracting birds to your garden – and keeping them coming back.

Near the end of spring here in Australia is an ideal time to add a bird bath to your garden. The days are warming up and the hot weather is on the way. Our native birds appreciate a reliable source of water. Installing one or more sources of water is also an excellent way of observing our birds close up.

On this morning’s gardening show on ABC radio here in South Australia (Adelaide 891) the host Jon Lamb interviewed a guest speaker on the principles to follow with bird baths. I took some written notes and share them here:


It will take some weeks for the birds in your garden to get used to a new structure in your garden. Now is the time to install it, knowing that by the time the really hot weather comes the birds will be used to it. Our bird baths have been in place now for four or five years, so our resident birds are quite used to it. Within minutes of adding water they are there enjoying themselves. Two weeks ago I added another just outside my office window; so far only 2 species have visited it.


Birds use the same water they bathe in to also drink from, so it is important to regularly clean the bird bath. Change the water every few days adding fresh water. If the bath becomes stained, scrub it clean but use no chemicals doing so. In fact, it is probably wise to scru each bird bath at least fortnightly; weekly if you can.

Depth of water:

Most of the smaller birds that will come to your bird bath will not be strong swimmers. The bird bath must be shallow, or have shallow areas so if a bird gets into trouble it can safely get out. Steep sides are to be avoided. I have placed a small brick or stone in each of our baths, and the birds use this for perching on when using the bath, or drinking.


Choosing the right location for a bird bath is essential. You can have one out in the open and it will be used, but it is far better to locate it near thick shrubbery, so the birds can quickly escape if a predator like a hawk is hovering nearby. They feel much more secure if they have a quick escape route and will therefore be happier about using your bird bath. It is also suggested  that you choose a shady spot as the water can get very hot and uncomfortable on very hot days if it is in full sun.


We get a great deal of enjoyment watching the passing parade of birds coming to drink and bathe. We consider sitting in our sun room watching the birds is a “good” waste of time, right up there with taking time to  “smell the roses’. In addition to the location considerations I’ve already mentioned, locate one of your bird baths where you can see it from a room in your house, or perhaps a veranda or pergola area. This will give you countless hours of enjoyment of our feathered friends.


More ambitious gardeners may incorporate a pond to provide water for the birds. If the water is deep, be sure to provide shallow parts, or add a log partly in the water, or stones or pebbles for the birds to perch on without the danger of drowning.

Eastern Rosella in our garden


5 Responses to “The importance of bird baths”

  1. I love having a bird bath in out front garden – I can sit and watch the passing parade of birds – sparrow, starlings, turtle doves, willie wagtails, white plumed honey eaters, crested pigeons and red rumped parrots.

    I love them all.

  2. Trevor says:

    Hi there Carolyn,

    We too, enjoy the passing parade of birds coming to our bird bath – and other parts of the garden.

  3. Ken Rolph says:

    I’ve jjust been watching a magpie lark and a spotted dove share a drink in our birdbath. It is a shallow round concrete one which we rescued from a neighbour clearing an established garden. It is perched on top of 6 concrete blocks so it is above cat reach, just next to our elevated feeding table.

    This is at the bottom of the yard behind trees. Most birds drink there. We also have a pair of red wattlebirds who think they own the bottlebrush tree in the middle of our backyard. They are not the slightest bit afraid of us or our dogs. They used to dunk in the dog water dish, which is spread hand deep. They would sit on the tap, drop to the edge, dunk themselves and hop out onto the rim, shaking the water off. I decided to move the dogs water bowl closer to the house. I was afraid the birds would get stuck or the dogs would take exception and grab one.

    When it gets cooler I’m going to mow the lawn. Five magpie larks take this as a signal to come and do a cleanup. We must have some kind of bird sign saying “free lunch”. Last week I got the 6 month old compost out of the bottom of the Aerobin. I put this in a barrow under a shady tree. It was full of worms and I thought I would have lunch, come back, scoop up the worms and put them back in the Aerobin to continue their work. When I got back the compost in the barrow was thorougly mixed and shredded, but there were vary few worms left.

  4. Trevor says:

    Thanks for sharing this story, Ken.

    Sorry for not responding earlier, but I’ve been finishing off my MA in recent months and am now only just catching up on comments here.

    The birds certainly know when to come for a feast. Last spring, after excellent winter rains, I had to fire up the ride-on mower quite a few times (I have 5 acres of weeds to “control”).

    Every time the resident Willie Wagtail heard the mower it came scurrying along, following my mowing with great enthusiasm. The mower was obviously stirring up a smorgasbord of insects.

  5. […] have their natural food, places to shelter and sites for their nests. Read more about this topic here and […]

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