We’re in the age of weather extremes. In the summer the temperatures frequently exceed triple digits, and in the winter the temperatures can dip way below freezing. It makes the daily grind for people miserable, but you can only imagine how miserable it can be for birds.
In terms of freezing temperatures, one of the things you can do to help give your backyard birds a helping hand is to get a heated birdbath. These will give your birds access to fresh drinking and preening water when none is readily available.
We’ve already written extensively on how to winterize your birdbaths, but if you already happen to have a heated birdbath set up in your backyard, here are some maintenance tips that’ll keep the water fresh for birds.
Read the instructions and follow them
The first is a no-brainer, but how many times do you actually read the instruction manual for anything. Many people fail to read the instructions when they oftentimes have important details or recommendations for safe use. Each heated birdbath or heating element is different, so make sure to follow directions to a tee.
Keep it out all winter
A heated birdbath should be set up at the first sign of frost and left up until spring. Many of the built-in heated birdbaths (as opposed to birdbaths with an external heating component) have sensors that tell when it gets cold enough to activate. This takes out some of the stress because the birdbath will only become heated when it’s necessary. As for some of the other heating components, you will need to watch the weather reports a bit more closely to see when you need to turn the heater on.
Do not use without water
Always monitor the water levels in your birdbath because the minute the bath is empty, the heater is more likely to break. Sometimes you’ll have to get a completely new birdbath, so take a minute every day to look at the water level.
Clear off the sides of the birdbath
As you can see from the picture to the right, the water is still a liquid and ready for birds to drink or preen in. There’s only one problem: there’s nowhere for birds to perch. After heavy snowfall, push all the snow off the side, so the birds can access the water easier.
Don’t use certain birdbaths in winter at all
Just because you have a heating component to your birdbath doesn’t mean it will last the ravages of winter. As we stated in our previous post on winterizing birdbaths, certain materials will crack in the cold. Concrete, ceramic, certain solar-powered electronics, and other decorative birdbaths have the potential to break when the ice freezes and expands around the feeder. Those should all be emptied and placed inside.
Keep it in the sun and away from the wind
There’s no need to cause more work for your heater. By placing the birdbath in the sun and away from the path of frigid wind, the heater will have to work less to keep the water unfrozen, extending the life of the birdbath.
Be mindful of electrical components
Some birdbaths require electricity to be powered, which requires extra attention and safety paid to how everything is connected. Use outdoor and weatherproof extension cords and be mindful of where it’s plugged in. If moisture is getting into the outlet, consider a cover to prevent a shortage.
This isn’t unique to heated birdbaths, but it’s always a great reminder to thoroughly clean everything. This not only ensures the birds have safe and fresh water but it also ensures the bath is functioning properly and efficiently.
Don’t add any chemicals
Again, this is a more general reminder that you should not add any salt, chemicals, or additives to keep the water unfrozen. If you have a heater, that should be enough and if you don’t, it’s better to bring the birdbath inside than to subject birds to water tainted with something unnatural.