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Why & How to Fill a Frozen Bird Bath

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Do you know how to fill a frozen bird bath without breaking it?

When I wake up to a rock-solid frozen world as happened today, I know my winged garden visitors will appreciate it if I fill frozen bird baths for them. Sure, they’ll peck at frost covered leaves and rooftops, but there isn’t much in the way of liquid water to slake their thirst. When cold air from the North Pole (or somewhere else that’s frigid) seeps southward into much of the US, there’s little likelihood they’ll find much liquid in the neighborhood. Even ponds at sea level are begin to freeze up!

How to Defrost Bird Bath

What kind of birdbaths should you not fill in freezing weather?

So not every bird bath is going to work well in freezing weather. In fact before cold weather sets in, glass bird baths should be drained and stored for winter. And ceramic vessels should be stored too. But other bird baths will work just fine.

Which birdbaths do survive in a freeze?

Stone is a great option for birdbaths in cold areas. Sure, over time rocks do break, but rock can hold together through hundreds of years. So odds are a stone birdbath will be fine through winter. Same with metal bird baths!

How to fill that frozen bird bath…

To provide the birds with some liquid refreshment, I pour cold tap water over the ice. And I focus the slow stream into the center of the ice, which is thickest. By using cold rather than hot water, I reduce the risk of a rapid, crack-inducing temperature change. Plus, when it’s 20F outside, cold tap water is relatively warm. So, adding it will defrost a bit of the giant ice cube resting in the bird bath.

Maybe add a little water each time.

If you’re experiencing a prolonged freeze, you may want to refill a little at a time. This way the bird bath won’t ever be completely full of ice. So you can refresh the liquid every few hours or days as needed.

The more you know…

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5 comments on “Why & How to Fill a Frozen Bird Bath

  1. Linda L Mayo on

    Thank you so much for helping me provide my birdbath and not breaking it I wasn’t real sure whether I should put hot water or cold water thanks again Linda Mayo I live in Embden,Maine

  2. Linda L Mayo on

    Thank you for so much for this helpful hint to help with defrosting the birdbath without breaking it

  3. Sheila on

    Thank you for this helpful info !!! Did u think a resin bird bath would work ? I have one I would like to try doing this with …

  4. Garden Mentors on

    Sheila, Thanks for writing in. I haven’t tried defrosting resin this way. It’s probably a good idea to do some research on break points in the exact material your bird bath is made from BEFORE you try defrosting it this way (or leaving water in it that might freeze). It’s a shame to lose a good piece of functional garden art. Please let us know how this goes for you (what works or what doesn’t work) so we can all continue to grow. Good luck!

  5. Tricia Connors-Ruhig on

    My birdbath is not a traditional birdbath. I took a low plant stand I wasn’t using, purchased a beautiful heavy round ceramic plant saucer, which fits perfectly on the plant stand, on the suggestion of a wonderful, 30 year employee at Wiegand’s, a local nursery store located in Michigan where I live.
    I can easily carry the tray inside, place it carefully in my laundry tub and let cold water run over the ice to thaw it.
    Great tip to filling the birdbath with only a little water at a time and periodically filling it throughout the day, will work perfectly in the wintertime! I also empty all of the water out at dusk.

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