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Great Tit sat in shallow cast iron bird bath bowl of water

How deep should a bird bath be

Often not thought about when setting up a bird bath is the environment you have created, and one that can be dangerous to visiting garden birds.

How deep should a bird bath be then would be 3 to 4cm only; don't worry as you can still buy any bird bath style, as we can manage the water depth. What you will need to do - to most bird bath types I might add - is line the bird bath bowl with stones or pebbles submerged underwater, up to 3 to 4cm off the rim.

As 3 to 4cm is the safe point of the water depth in any bird bath, on rare occasions you could get away with a depth of 5cm, but shallower the better.

To buy a wild bird bath in any style you desire then can open you up your options to a metal, stone, ceramic or cheaper plastic bird bath - made safe with use of pebbles or stones to use as footing.

Not only that, but its really only gravel we can use to control the depth of the bird bath water level.

Bird baths are ready to go as soon as you are, but what really makes a good bird bath is accessories you didn't think of previously, but need to be bought separately.

Head to the garden centre to buy yourself a bag of decorative pebbles to match the bird bath theme - or level off the bird bath base using gravel to add a solar panel fountain.

While its possible to buy a solar powered bird bath fountain in one, at less expense is a solar fountain device that can be submerged underwater to be just as effective.

For that to work its need to be at a certain depth in the water, which the 3 to 4cm depth to keep wild birds safe can be used as a bonus.

While I outline my advice with how deep should bird baths be, this applies to bird baths on a pedestal or hanging styles.

Safest at 3-4cm

Overall, you will always want to lean towards a depth in the bird of 3 to 4cm. Regardless of type of bird bath in use or size - a maximum depth of 4cm would be the target.

It is possible for the water line to be too low, as birds could struggle to bathe if that is why they are actually using the bird bath for.

And that's for small common garden birds only, as medium to large size birds would find it harder to get a good soaking.

However, playing it safe with a water depth of 3 to 4cm would guarantee wild bird safety, with or without assistance of stones or pebbles on the base.

Curved bird bath bowls usually have a deeper end in the middle, so this is where you need to prioritise the water level in the bird bath.

Bird bath styles can sometimes appear to be like a deep water basin, so deep in fact it would not be possible for birds to use it - so we then make use of stones to make it more shallow, more wild bird friendly.

Stones to shallow water level

It is possible to control the depth of the bird bath water with the use of stones to bring the level up to something more manageable.

Why you would put stones in a bird bath is to manipulate the height of the water, while never allowing the water depth to rise to a more dangerous level, over 4cm.

Stones can be anywhere from 2 to 3cm in width or length, but can be smaller.

Larger stones for use in the base of a bird bath bowl can cause issues in regards to trapping delicate wild birds feet - so to use small size stones you can create a more compact stone pile, submerged underwater.

Shallow the bird bath water bowl by levelling up the stones up to 2 to 4cm off the bird bath rim. That way as it rains the water will overflow, thus never allowing the water to be any higher than you intended.

Levelling the bird bath in its place would also be imperative to making sure there's no risk of deeper ends in the bath.

Use pebbles to help footing

Similarly to use of stones but a little different in how they are used is smaller pebbles to line the bird bath bowl.

Submerged underwater, so not entirely seen with the naked eye, but pebbles are like tiny little stones that line a goldfish tank - or most fish tanks in fact.

To use pebbles in a bird bath, its then possible to guarantee any gaps or crevices open to getting feet trapped when using larger stones - is certainly not a possibility as the wild birds tread on pebbles.

Pebbles can be more manageable too, as in settling a rock or two for use as a fake perch or if you want to be more creative - using pond plants in the bird bath.

Buy pebbles intended for use in water by cleaning them beforehand, but do select pebbles that would compliment the bird bath in use by matching its colour or how its built.

Rock perch if needed

Create a fake perch actually in the bird bath bowl by settling the perfect rock in the bird bath, intended to be more safe as birds drink or bathe in water.

Bird bath bowls can be quite bland sitting out in the garden, but by lining the base with stones or pebbles we can liven it up.

As stones or pebbles offer a safe footing as they enter the depths of the water, a large rock can be used for the purpose of a perch.

You see wild birds tend to land on the rim of the bird bath, perching until they decide to lean to sip the water if its within reach - or hop down the slope of the bird bath into the water to drink or bathe.

To carefully set a rock that would compliment the bird bath in the centre or offset if for decorative purposes - the birds are always within reach of the water.

Setting a large, heavy rock or brick in the bird bath water should sit study, but to also use stones or pebbles the rock can sit in, would create a real safe environment.

Too deep is a real danger

Make no mistake, how deep the bird bath water is can be a real danger to wild birds, as the risk of drowning is something to seriously consider.

Your job is to prevent this ever happening by controlling the water level.

Bird baths can be bought at varying depths, so while plastic bird baths can be shallow, a more luxury stone bird bath on a pedestal can be deeper for decorative reasons.

And while stone bird baths can offer better footing with its more rugged surface, a plastic or metal bird bath can be more slippery - so if birds get in trouble it would be hard to get a grip on the bowl.

Its a serious thing in a bird bath especially at busier times, so be in control of the bird bath water level at all times by using the suggested stones or pebbles.

Where else you may benefit from be shallowing the water depth is now birds might be more willing to enter the bird bath, as previously birds would not use a bird bath where they couldn't walk on the base.

Resist too much water use

Idea behind managing the water level in the bird bath is to never allow it to go to deep, and while it seems impossible, it is easy to control the water level.

Pouring water in the bird bath with use of a hose pipe or jug to a depth you feel it quite safe is one thing, but that can only last until its rain.

Rain will guarantee the water level will not only go as high as it can, but so high in fact it would overflow, until the rain stops.

Now you don't want to ever stop or delay wild birds using a bird bath, so you need to make sure the water is back to a more manageable level for them to use.

Relying on the sun to evaporate the water over time is certainly not the answer.

So I refer you back to adding pebbles or stones to the bird bath bowl, with only 3 to 4cm left from the rim of the bird bath.

That way, raining or not, the water level would remain at a depth of 3 to 4cm always.

Re-purpose deep bird baths

Now I don't mean re-purpose the bird bath for something other than offering a place for wild birds to drink or bathe, but moreso to be more useful.

What I am getting at is, as wild birds like a bird bath fountain feature, and if you decide to use one later - the water line would have to be at a certain depth.

Solar powered bird bath fountains, the kind that you position in the water so are not built-in, should be flat on the bird bath bowl.

Most wild bird baths don't allow for such a device, so its not uncommon to see it lifted off the base, as its too large to sit flush.

This is where lining the bird bath with rocks or pebbles again can create a level base.

Its therefore possible you've re-purpose the bird bath in a way that you can use an actual solar powered fountain that sits on the base of the bird bath bowl, submerged under-water.

To Summarise

Manage a bird bath water level at 3 to 4cm only, so you can do just that by making sure the water never goes above this recommend depth.

Now its safe to say its going to be hard to control the water level as a bird bath sits out in the elements - but it is indeed more easier than you think.

What you will need to do is make use of pebbles, small stones or gravel to line the bird bath bowl - as they sit undisturbed in a tight compact pile underwater.

I can't tell you how much stones or pebbles you would need, as that applies to your circumstances only, so the style of bird bath in use would have its say.

As a rule of thumb, you need as many stones as possible that would bring the height of the gravel below the rim of the bird bath, sitting 3 to 4cm maximum.

What happens now is when water is added, it can only fill up to 3 to 4cm, before too much water would see it overflow over the edges - so never can it rise above the intended depth.

As well as using pebbles or stones to control the depth of the water, you can now use a rock as an artificial perch more safely.

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