Outdoor Spaces

How to Build a Birdbath

Bring all the birds to your yard with tips from local Springfield, MO experts on how to build the best birdbath.

By Erin Gregory

Mar 2017

Build a Birdbath
Photo courtesy ShutterstockWelcome feathered friends back to your yard with a custom birdbath.

When planning a solid birdbath design this spring, consider a number of different options. Bird lovers can take some of these useful tips and put them toward the creation of any successful bath, whether the design is a basic shallow tray and saucer or stacked terra cotta pots. 

A Place in the Shade
Birdbaths are often placed out in open spaces, presumably so you can watch as the birds sip and splash. However, ornithologists recommend placing birdbaths in partial shade, near trees or shrubs if possible. A shady location slows evaporation and keeps the water fresh longer. Wet birds can’t fly as well as they can when their feathers are dry, so they’re vulnerable to predators when they’re bathing. With cover nearby, they’ll feel safe.—Nikki Petitt, Nursery Manager, Wickman’s Garden Village 

Warmth in the Winter
In winter, opt for a metal or granite bath, or a heated birdbath dish with heating element built in. These materials won’t freeze and break the way concrete or ceramic birdbaths often do. Place a birdbath heater in a bath so it will keep the water from freezing and give the birds a constant place to bathe and keep clean and hydrated; there’s no guarantee it will keep the ceramic or concrete birdbath from breaking.—Jessica Kindall, Wild Birds Unlimited

Add Personal Style
Have fun and inject the project with personal style! Cover the outside of the pots in a layer of patio paint. This colorful paint comes in a variety of hues to match any outdoor decor, plus it adds an additional coat of sealer. Allow this paint coat to dry for 24 hours before using the pot.—Nikki Petitt, Nursery Manager, Wickman’s Garden Village 

Hang It High
A hanging birdbath is a good choice for pet owners, as it keeps the birds as safe as possible. For a more natural look, hanging birdbaths constructed of grapevine wreath, a shallow clay plant saucer and lightweight chain or weather resistant twine will do the trick. It is important to have several crisscross lengths of the chain or twine to support the saucer.—Nikki Petitt, Nursery Manager, Wickman’s Garden Village 

Prevent Water Damage 
Waterproofer can be used to seal terra cotta pots from water damage. Take a thoroughly cleaned, dry terra cotta pot and spray the exterior with Thompson’s Clear Multi-Surface Waterproofer (available at Lowe’s). After the outside coat is dry and has been allowed to cure in a warm area for a day or so, spray the inside of the pots. (Allow at least 24 hours in a warm location for each coat of sealer to dry.)—Nikki Petitt, Nursery Manager, Wickman’s Garden Village

Attend an Event
Around the Springfield area there are garden centers and organizations that sometimes put on birdbath-making events. Garden Adventures in Nixa and The Springfield Conservation Nature Center have hosted classes in the past. These activities usually require registration and a small fee for supplies but are a fun way to make a birdbath. There are a lot of ideas online to make a creative, beautiful, functional birdbath out of ordinary materials just be sure to make it shallow and to be patient.—Jessica Kindall, Wild Birds Unlimited