Don’t bring in the birdbath just because colder weather has set in. Winter is an especially important time for helping our backyard friends stay hydrated. Given the harsh conditions, it's important to choose a birdbath that is made of weather-resilient materials.

Why do birds need a winter water source?

Songbirds can and do eat snow in the winter. This helps, but there are a couple of downsides. Snow has low water content, and ingesting something icy cold on a brisk day consumes additional resources that help the bird maintain its body heat. For those reasons alone, a source of fresh water is important for winter survival. Backyard birders can help by continuing to set out a birdbath in the winter months.

But are birdbaths safe in the winter?

In nature, birds explore open water in lakes and rivers to drink and bathe in the winter. So if you’re worried about whether it’s safe to set out a birdbath in winter, that fact can provide some assurance.

What’s the best material for a winter birdbath?

For winter use, choose a birdbath material that’s resilient to the toughest conditions. Resin, reinforced plastic, and metal are great options for winter birdbaths. But avoid concrete and porcelain: If water seeps into even the tiniest cracks and freezes, the cracks will widen and eventually destroy your birdbath. However, if your birdbath is heated, this will be less of a concern.

  • Resin birdbaths

Resin birdbaths can offer the appearance of a classic concrete birdfeeder at a fraction of the weight. At the same time, the resin is tough against freezing and ice removal. Be sure to purchase a resin birdbath that allows you to add sand to weigh it down. You don’t want your birdbath toppling over in the gusty winter wind!

  • Reinforced plastic birdbaths

Reinforced plastic is a composite of fiber and plastic, which gives it more strength and resilience against cracking and shattering in colder temperatures. As with the resin birdbaths, you may want to add weight to the base so it doesn’t topple or blow away.

  • Metal birdbaths

Metal birdbaths, such as the classic cast iron type, provide another weatherproof option. They won’t crack or shatter in subzero temps. To promote solar heating, opt for a dark-colored metal.

Once you select the best material for the birdbath, the next thing to decide is whether you want to include a heating element. A heated bath or a heating element that rests right in the basin will keep the ice away. Just be sure to set a reminder system to change the water every day or so.

But you can also set out fresh water daily. This provides backyard birds an opportunity to grab some sips on short winter days when they're out and about, foraging for food and drink. Once ice appears, take the basin indoors, dump the old water, and start fresh the next day.

Complete your winter rest stop with high-quality food

High-fat foods help birds stay healthy and strong over winter. Lyric carries several great winter options including Lyric Fruit & Nut High Energy Mix, Lyric Cardinal Mix, Lyric Woodpecker No Waste Mix, and Lyric Delite No Waste Mix. Different foods attract different birds, so try a variety to see what shows up at your feeders.