Make the perfect bird bath

Help birds and other wildlife in your outdoor space with a bird bath.

A group of Starlings washing in a birdbath surrounded by greenery.

Birds have to lower their guard as they bend down to sip water. They’re even more at risk when bathing, as their feathers are sodden with the water, and the sound of the splashing alerts nearby predators. Despite the danger, they must bathe or their feathers will get dirty and dishevelled. 

Providing the perfect bird bath can be one of the best things you can do for wildlife in the garden, and one of the most rewarding, too. You can install a bird bath at any time of year, but summer is a particularly critical time when water can be scarce for birds.

What birds really want from a bird bath is a wide, safe and shallow puddle with a rock or two for perching on. That way, they won’t get out of their depth, there’s plenty of space to flap about, and every chance to do it in the company of others, which is always safer.

How to make the perfect bird bath
Estimated time: 1-2 hours Season: All year Skill level: Easy


Find a shallow dish

A shallow, watertight bowl, such as an upturned dustbin lid or large circular plant tray. Even an old bowl or a cooking pot would work. You could even creative and upcycle something unwanted.

The perfect bird bath will have very shallow sloping sides, a maximum depth of only 10cm or so and be as wide as possible – ideally more than 30cm across.

A bird bath comprised of an upturned metal dustbin lid, sat on four bricks, filled with a layer of pebbles and rocks, topped up with water.

Where to put a bird bath?

Find a suitable location in the garden where the birds will be safe and you can see all the action. A good choice is on an open flat area, where there is no long grass or low bush for a cat to hide and pounce.

Partnering with

The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International.More