5 Best Heated Bird Baths to Keep Your Birds Happy

Providing water to wild birds during the winter months can be challenging. Water freezes below 32°F, so bird baths can quickly turn to a sheet of ice if temperatures drop. A time-consuming way to combat freezing water is to break up the ice and refill a bird bath every day. 

However, several companies are creating products that heat water to above freezing temperatures to ensure birds are able to have access to water year round. 

Whether you have a bird bath already and are looking for a heater to add to it, or if you would like to buy a brand new state-of-the-art heated bird bath, there is a product on the market suited for every bird enthusiast.

Heated bird baths we cover in this article:

How expensive is it to run a heated bird bath?

Heated bird baths come with heaters that run using different wattages. 

  • With higher wattage, you will be spending more money to use it, but the heater will also run hotter. You should choose a high watt heater if you live in an area with temperatures that are regularly sub-zero in winter. Based on cost alone, low watt heaters are a better choice.  
      
  • The general cost of using a heated bird bath depends on the price of electricity in your area. As an example, the average price of a kilowatt hour in the United States is 12 cents. For a heated bird bath using 75 watts, the price per month would be $6.70 if it was on constantly.   
      
  • A 150 watt heated bird bath would cost $13.40 per month to operate full-time. For thermostat-controlled heaters that only turn on when temperatures are below freezing, the price will be lower if part of the month has warm weather.

What about de-icers for bird baths?

A de-icer is an immersion heater that can be added to your existing bird bath. These are a good purchase if you already have a bird bath without a built-in heater and want to keep the ice melted for winter. 

You can buy de-icers that are thermostat-controlled, meaning they only turn on when temperatures dip below freezing which saves you money. De-icers come in various sizes and shapes to suit the size of your bird bath, but remember a de-icer is only compatible with your bath if it is made with a plastic or fiberglass basin (not ceramic or concrete).

Heated bird baths are the full monte – a bird bath with heater contained within the basin so you don’t have to see an unsightly heater at the bottom of the water. Heated bird baths are more aesthetically pleasing and efficient than immersion heaters. 

De-icers are only able to melt the center portion of water in a bird bath when temperatures dip far below freezing, so if you are in a cold northern area consider buying a heated bird bath instead.

Tips to use heated bird baths

So you want to buy a heated bird bath – great! There are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing your new bath so that you are able to attract the most winter birds and ensure they are enjoying the new addition to your yard.

  • Keep your bird bath filled every day to provide the best service to wildlife – birds depend on the resources you provide! This will also keep your heating element functional.
  • Clean your bird bath and change its water every 2 to 4 days. You can do this by dumping the water in the basin, removing any remaining debris, and scrubbing all surfaces with one part vinegar to nine parts water. Rinse well and let air dry before returning outdoors.
  • Clear snow off the edge of the bird bath after each snowfall to give birds access to the bird bath’s water (snow can be used to fill the bath as your heater melts it, too).
  • Put your bird bath in a sunny area so that its thermostat-controlled heater can get some help from solar rays, saving energy by turning off when it is warm.
  • Add stones to reduce the water depth or partially cover the water with sticks to keep birds from bathing in the winter when it is harmful for them to be wet (most birds will not bathe when it is below freezing, but safety features such as these will be additionally beneficial). Stones also help birds to perceive water depth to drink more easily.
  • Purchase outlet covers or outdoor extension cords if needed.
  • Lastly, read the manual and instruction book that comes with your heated bird bath so that you understand the specific requirements of your make and model.

What not to do

Without the proper care and maintenance of your heated bird bath, things can go wrong! Some things to avoid when installing and using your heated bird bath include:

  • Don’t let your bird bath run out of water
  • Never use a concrete heated bird bath
  • Never add salt or chemicals to the bird bath water
  • Don’t overlook electrical safety of cords and outlets

Although some of these points are intuitive, other care and maintenance needs of heated bird baths are more nuanced. An experience heated bird bath user would tell you that using one without water may cause the heating element to malfunction; in other words, your yard’s birds will be out of water and you may wind up with a broken heater too. 

In addition, using a concrete heated bird bath or any bath made out of a porous surface will also potentially result in a broken bath. Porous materials that absorb water may crack as water freezes and thaws away from the heating element. The best heated bird baths are made with plastic or fiberglass basins. 

Adding salt, antifreeze, or any other chemicals to your heated bird bath is very bad for birds. Even small amounts can cause injury or death to wild birds and other wildlife. Keep your heated bird bath clean and remember to fill it with only fresh water.

Lastly, but equally important, only outdoor extension cords rated to the specifications of your heated bird bath or immersion heater are safe. Ensure the outlet you plug your bird bath to is in good condition. Do not use indoor extension cords or connect multiple cords to reach the placement you desire in your yard. Failure to meet these safety standards can cause short circuits or even a fire.

How to choose the best heated bird bath?

There are a few features that are ideal to look for in a heated bird bath. Some of these features are energy-saving, reducing costs used to maintain a bath in the long run, while others are more attractive to birds or may suit your lifestyle needs.

  • Thermostat-controlled heater: These heaters only turns on when temperatures drop below freezing, meaning they only use energy when absolutely necessary. 
  • Water pumps: Some baths include pumps to circulate water, which adds attractive ambient sounds. Water pumps also reduces algae growth in summer months and can limit the occurrence of mosquito larvae. 
  • Multiple depths: Some bird baths are a uniform depth, but others have variation so both large and small birds are able to use water for bathing. To attract the most species to your bird bath, opt for a basin that has variability in water depth.
  • Type: Bird baths can be free standing, deck mounted, hanging, or located on the ground. The best bird bath for you depends on where you would like to view birds visiting your yard. 
  • Sturdy: Ensure your bird bath won’t fall over. Check to make sure it can stand up to wind, bumps from kids, and rambunctious animals like dogs or bears.
  • Diameter: Ideal bird baths should be 2 feet wide
  • Container: They should hold at least 1 gallon of wate

Best heated bird baths

This Farm Innovators bird bath is thermostat-controlled with multiple placement options. 

It comes with a removable plastic basin that is easy to clean and a uniform shallow depth. You can order the basin in either terra cotta orange or green. 

The heater is 75 watts, and Farm Innovators offers a one year limited warranty with this product.

What we liked

  • Easy to empty and clean
  • Works in sub-zero temperatures
  • Affordable compared to other models
  • Versatile mounting capabilities

What we didn’t like

  • Not very deep
  • Comes with a very short cord
  • Should not be connected to an extension cord

Diameter: 14 inch diameter
Volume: 1 quart of water
Depth: 1 inch
Mounting options: Clamp, deck, post, or ground
Length of power cord: About 10 inches
Great for birds: American Robin, American Goldfinch, Mourning Dove, Dark-eyed Junco, House Finch
Lowest working temperature: Tested to -10°F (-23°C)

This Allied Precision Industries bird bath has a gradual basin which should appeal to a variety of bird species. 

The heater runs using 150 watts and is controlled automatically by the internal thermostat. This heated bird bath comes with a railing mount. 

The lower temperature limit listed for this bird bath is -20 degrees F and has been tested in sub-zero temperatures with great success, likely due to the powerful heater.

What we liked

  • Color ideal to notice when it needs to be cleaned
  • Powerful heater works in extreme cold
  • Comes with hardware
    Has been used for 8+ years by satisfied customers

What we didn’t like

  • Does not come with mounting instructions
  • Can be difficult to find a stand that fits
  • Lightweight

Diameter: 20 inches
Depth: 2 inches
Mounting options: Stand, pedestal, deck, or ground
Length of power cord: Approximately 18 inches
Great for birds: American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, Dark-eyed Junco
Lowest working temperature: -20 degrees F

This Allied Precision Industries bird bath is similar to the previous product, but this has an EZ-Tilt-To-Clean feature. 

The bird bath comes with a deck rail mount and latch, allowing the basin to be lifted and dumped without completely removing it from the mount. 

However, this bird bath is limited to deck mounts and can’t be placed on the ground or in a stand. The heater runs using 150 watts, 120 volts, and is thermostat-controlled.

What we liked

  • Water can easily be dumped and cleaned
  • Color ideal to notice when it needs to be cleaned
  • Powerful heater works in extreme cold
  • Comes with hardware

What we didn’t like

  • Can only be mounted to decks or wooden railings
  • Difficult to level

Diameter: 20 inches
Depth: 2 inches
Mounting options: Deck or railing
Length of power cord: Approximately 18 inches
Great for birds: American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, Dark-eyed Junco
Lowest working temperature: -20 degrees F

This heated bird bath by Songbird Essentials is an attractive wooden stand made of durable cedar suitable for any garden or yard. 

It has a 60 watt double ring heater and is guaranteed to work in temperatures as cold as -20 degrees F. 

It stands at 28 inches tall and weighs approximately 14 pounds.

What we liked

  • Beautiful design and made of durable materials
  • Sturdy and stays standing even in high winds
  • Can be assembled without power tools
  • Removable tray is easy to clean

What we didn’t like

  • Shallow pan can evaporate quickly in the summer
  • Assembly instructions not detailed

Diameter: 14-¼ inches
Depth: 1-⅜ inches
Mounting options: Stand
Length of power cord: 12 inches
Great for birds: Eastern Bluebird, American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, Carolina Chickadee
Lowest working temperature: -20 degrees F

Rather than a full heated bird bath, this product is a bird bath de-icer by Allied Precision Industries. 

A de-icer is a fantastic choice if you already own a non-porous bird bath and are interested in keeping your water unfrozen in winter months for the most affordable price. 

The heater runs using 250 watts with a thermostat control. 

What we liked

  • Comes with a chew cord protector
  • Can be used in any bird bath
  • Easily cleaned and stored for winter
  • More wattage than heated bird baths
  • Made in the USA

What we didn’t like

  • Will need to be replaced more frequently than a heated bird bath

Diameter: 4.75 inches
Length of power cord: 6 feet
Great for birds: Eastern Bluebird
Lowest working temperature: -30 degrees F

The takeaway

If there were a winner among bird baths, the Songbird Essentials Heated Birdbath would reign champion. Although it has the highest cost of any bath listed, it is fully functional, comes with stand and basin, can be used in summer or winter, and is a very visually appealing feature to have in your yard or garden. 

Reviewers have reported the highest amount of bird diversity with this bird bath, and the only negative point is that the basin is too shallow to hold water on hot summer days without being refilled.

The other products listed require a deck or additional purchase of a stand to mount them; and although the Allied Precision 600 Heated Bird Bath Bowl can be used on the ground, it is easier to see visiting birds when a bird bath is elevated. 

Lastly, reviewers noted that the Farm Innovators Heated Bird Bath is difficult to keep level, another point that did not come up with the Songbird Essentials bath. The de-icer is a wonderful product if you already own a bird bath, but for customers seeking a good investment that will stand the test of time, Songbird Essentials is the way to go.

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