Putting out feeders stocked with tasty seeds or high-energy suet is a great way to attract birds. But don’t forget that these backyard visitors also need a dependable supply of fresh, clean water. It’s easy to make an attractive basin to give our feathered friends a place to drink and bathe, and fun to invite them into our yards and gardens so we can enjoy watching them. To prevent injury to people and wildlife, use only rounded or smooth glass pieces, not sharp, broken glass.
About 2 hours to make the basin; 3 to 7 days for the concrete to cure
Wheelbarrow or large container for mixing Quikrete
5 Gallon bucket of water, or access to a hose
Recycled or crushed pieces of glass (Note: for safety’s safe, use glass pieces that are smooth or rounded, not jagged. Many craft stores sell this glass as “Decorative Filler” in the Floral Department.)
Optional: Bird bath pedestal
1. Find a place in your yard where you can dig a hole 12 – 15″ in diameter and 6″ deep. This will become the mold for the basin. Add an inch of damp sand, pressing it over the bottom and up the sides. You’ll need between 30 and 50 pounds of QuikCrete for this project, depending on how big you want the basin to be.
2. Use your fingers or the bottom of a flowerpot or bowl to make a flat spot at the bottom of the mold, so the basin will be level when it’s finished.
3. Put on the gloves and dust mask. Fill the bucket with water, or work near a garden hose. Work fast, because the QuikCrete will set quickly. Following the package directions, add 30 to 40 pounds of the Quikrete and some water to a wheelbarrow or other large container. Use a shovel or hoe to mix them until the consistency is like modeling clay.
4. Again, working fast, put the mixture into the mold. Slope it from the base to the top, so the birds can wade in. (Two inches of water is deep enough for birds to drink from or splash in.) Press the glass bits around the rim. You can substitute other decorative items, like shells or mosiac tiles. Make a pattern or add the decorative materials at random.
5. Spray the basin with water and cover it with plastic. Wait 3 to 7 days before removing the plastic, so the concrete can cure, before you lift the basin. (You may want to dig around it to loosen it.)
6. Place the basin on a stump or pedestal, or leave it on the ground, but keep it at least 15 feet away from places where predators can hide. An open area near trees or shrubs is a good spot, so the birds can escape quickly, if needed.
7. Keep the basin filled with fresh, clean water. In hot weather, or about every 10 days, scrub it with a mild bleach solution and rinse thoroughly, to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae.
Image of bird at bird bath: Shutterstock/Lakvich
Featured preview image: Shutterstock/Steve Byland