How to Make a Simple Bird Bath with Found Items

diy bird bath with found items bathing area

You can get a range of bird baths in so many styles for your back yard and outdoor space. We have one that we bought on a pedestal and it's really great. But you really don't need to spend much, if anything at all.

I'll show you exactly how to make a simple bird bath with found and recycled items on this page. Before you know it, you'll be able to give your visiting feathered friends somewhere safe and pleasant to drink and wash themselves. And you can enjoy watching them while they visit.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links for which I can be compensated.

My own example of a quick and simple bird bath made with found items is good used as a ground bath and also raised up on a pedestal. Either way it only cost me a minimal amount to make. The only part I actually paid for was the plastic basin which was from our local dollar store.

In addition to giving you tips on making a bird-friendly bath, I'll also explain where it is best to put it and how to make it attractive to the smaller birds who are happy to come and visit your garden.

Garden birds are searching for water that: 

  • is good to drink
  • looks clean enough to bathe and wash their feathers in
  • is in a safe place, away from the risk of predators creeping up on them 
  • is the right depth for them to safely use 

How to Make a Simple DIY Bird Bath for Your Garden

1: Creating The Water Basin or Container for the Bird Bath

Shallow planter basin bird bath with stone frog decoration

First you need a suitable basin or a container to hold the water in.

The best bowls or basins for most of your visiting garden birds have shallow, sloping sides and not vertical or straight sides.

Shallow, sloping sides are a safety feature because birds can drown if the water is too deep. Particularly at risk are the small song birds which tend to visit back yards and gardens. They can struggle to get out from containers which have straight sides to them instead of gradual slopes they can hop up.

The plastic basin I chose for this purpose was from our local dollar store and it's a shallow planter with gradually sloping sides.

Instead of a shallow planter or bowl, you might find a round lid such as a trash can lid which you can recycle for this purpose. Turn the lid upside down and use it to hold water safely for birds.

Shallow plates with wide rims, pie-tins, gradually sloping sides on a very shallow planter, upturned trash can lids: these can all be inexpensive ways to make a DIY basin bath for your visiting birds.

2: Choose the Correct Depth of Water in the Basin for Smaller Songbirds

Current specifications from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds say that water should not exceed a 4 inch depth. The water level should only be 1-4 inches deep.

This is to keep the level of water safe for birds to drink from, bathe in and cool down in on a hot day. If your container has a depth greater than this, you can fill up the bottom with stones and pebbles to create the correct level of water.

It's not just about how high you fill the container, you have to allow for any natural rainwater building up the water content in the basin too.

3: Adding Stones and Pebbles to the Basin

Adding stones and pebbles to the basin can give smaller birds somewhere safe to perch as they drink or wash.

These stones and pebbles can also help to make the overall depth of water suitable for them to use and it can help to prevent small birds from drowning.

I found an old frog stone statue which I cleaned up and added to the middle of my basin with rocks around it. It makes a good feature as well as being practical by preventing the water from being too deep.

4: Choosing a Position for the Bird Bath in the Back Yard or Garden

Think carefully about the best place for the homemade bird bath.

Birds are more likely to spot the water and use it if you put it near any feeders or the part of your yard where they are currently most active. 

Put the basin slightly out in the open in your garden. However also consider placing it close to a safe area such as a bush, shrub or tree where a bird can quickly escape to if a predator such as a cat or a bigger bird shows up.

Although you want the water near a safe place for birds to fly to and from, don't put the bath right next to this area, about a meter or so away is ideal. This is because potential predators such as cats can easily hide themselves in a bush or under a tree and use this as cover to ambush the birds.

Birds are much more vulnerable while they drink and bathe just as they are when eating. Being engaged in a necessary activity can take their mind away from checking on their own safety as much as they normally would.

5: Consider Raising the Bird Bath Up and Away from Predators

Shallow planter diy bird bath on a large upturned plant pot recycled pedestal

Ground baths can work but most small birds prefer to use a bath which is raised up off the ground a little. Raising the bird bath up gives them a better view around the yard to watch out for approaching predators. So consider raising the basin off the ground if you can.

Floor or ground bird baths can also attract frogs, as I discovered, and they can also appeal to domestic cats and even other animals like foxes wanting a drink themselves.

Attracting natural predators where your birds visit is not recommended for encouraging birds in to your garden.

6: Cleaning the Basin of the Bathing Area

Prepare to clean the bird baths out regularly. I clean mine around twice a week and sometimes more in very hot weather.

Baths can quickly get contaminated with droppings and germs from all the visitors and this can soon make water which is not fit to drink. If your basin is continually dirty, you are probably doing more harm than good because birds can die easily from diseases.

I prefer not to use any chemicals at all since many of these cleaning products are fatal to wildlife. So I scrub everything until pristine with a brush and a powerful jet of water from a hose.

You can find special bird bath cleaner products to use if you want or you can opt for a heavily diluted bleach solution. You should do some research before resorting to using any chemical cleaners.

Making a Homemade Bird Bath from Recycled Materials

Making your own DIY version of a bath is easy providing that you are aware of what the visiting birds are looking for.

A simple shallow basin or container on top of a makeshift pedestal such as a large upturned plant pot, an old stool or a tree stump can work very well.

Raising your basin up off the ground can make it easier for birds to keep a lookout for natural predators such as cats. It also makes them easier to clean too.

There are some fantastic ways to use up and recycle materials that you probably have already in order to make a pretty good bird bath.

Birds really don't care how much the basin or bowl cost you nor what it looks like. They are only interested in the practicalities of using this drinking and washing bowl and not on how good it might look.

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Articles are accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.