Splish splash

Splish splash

How to make your bird bath.

Feel like you’re missing out when some of the shyer New Zealand birds never seem to make an appearance in your backyard? Sometimes all they need is a little coaxing with some fresh, cool water from an equally fresh and cool birdbath.

Birds need a constant and reliable supply of fresh water for drinking and bathing around the year. While this may seem an easy achievement safe, secure and healthy water is sometimes not easy to find for birds in our suburbs.

So what better way to help out our winged friends then by dusting off the craft kit and spending an afternoon making your very own birdbath? You’ll not only be helping our beautiful native birds but you’re also setting your own yard up for an ongoing and entertaining show.

Traditional birdbaths are practical but some of these can be expensive and, let’s face it, not very inspiring. With a little planning and inspiration you can easily make something perfect for your taste and backyard setting.

It pays to first think of who is using it before beginning construction. The best kind of birdbath is one that mimics nature’s very own birdbaths – shallow and with plenty of space to rest and recover.

There may even be a few odds and ends around the house or shed that you can finally put to use. Some objects that can be reconfigured to make simple but effective birdbaths include:

  • Shallow pottery
  • Serving trays
  • Ceiling lamp covers
  • Rubbish container lids
  • Plant pot saucers
  • Cake pans
  • Shallow plates
  • Old frisbees

For your post, an old mailbox post, treated timber or stack of bricks will suffice. As long as it’s high enough for the birds to be safe from predators and your bath is properly secured to your post you can improvise here.

If you’re keen to make your own concrete birdbath this too is a relatively easy project. Here’s the basic approach:

  1. Find a large pan or similar vessel. This will contain the mold for the bowl so choose the size accordingly.
  2. Fill this vessel with enough sand to work with in containing the mold and keep this sand moist.
  3. Press a large bowl into the sand until there is a deep impression that can keep its shape
  4. Pour mixed concrete into the bowl form, then press a smaller bowl into the concrete. Coating the bowl with petroleum jelly will make release easier later.
  5. Place heavy objects in this smaller bowl to ensure the mold forms properly as it dries. Let the birdbath to cure for at least a few days before use.

Voila – you now have your very own birdbath. There are plenty of video and photo tutorials online too and we suggest having a search for more detail before you wade into the bath-making.

As you’ll want the local birds to use it, rain or shine, here are a few things you should know about birdbaths to ensure yours stays in tip-top shape throughout every season.

1: Place the bath in shade if possible. This keeps the water fresh and cool for those stiflingly hot days during summer.

2: Place rocks inside the bowl. This helps bird gain a good grip so they can drink without getting too wet.

3: Ensure it’s high and out of reach from the local cats and pests. This is generally a design issue and you should always have a post that is difficult, if not impossible, for predators to climb.

4: Change the water every 1 to 2 days to ensure it’s clean and safe for your feathered friends.

5: Ensure it’s topped up in very hot or very cold days – this is when birds will drink and use it most.

6: In winter replace icy water with warm water (tap is fine) instead of hot water

7: Give them a good feed while they’re there! A Snack Shack or Tui feeder will help attract more native birds to your garden too.