Two blue jays in a bird bath made of a plant saucer.

By Larry Hodgson

Birds love to bathe, but you don’t have to fork out money for a commercial bird bath to please them. Instead, dig around in your home: attic, basement, work space, kitchen, etc. Because I’m sure you already have everything you need. 

Your DIY bird bath can be:

  • a large houseplant saucer;
  • a serving tray;
  • a large, shallow bowl;
  • a saucepan lid;
  • an inverted lamp base;
  • a trash can cover;
  • a pie plate, etc.

In fact, almost anything that holds water can become a bird bath!

Bird bath made of a bowl set on a pedestal made of inverted flowerpots.
Home-made bird bath and pedestal. Photo: Paul Brennan,

Helpful Hint: You can place pebbles at the bottom of the bird bath to create a variety of depths, as each bird has its preference, from 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 8 cm).

Place your find on a pedestal (one you make yourself, obviously) or a stump or hang it from a branch or from the roof. Or just put it on the ground, a terrace or a deck. Do make sure that that it’s in the open: birds may be fearful of bathing if there is a place right nearby where a predator could be hiding.

Oh, and do wipe it down and change the water at least once a week to keep from spreading bird diseases!

Enjoy watching the birds visit your DIY bird bath!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

7 comments on “A DIY Bird Bath

  1. Good for honey bees watering too.

  2. I love the colourful terra cotta pot birdbath! And you are right – they don’t need anything fancy. I had a black garbage bag on the ground last year and water collected in the folds and divots from a rainfall and wouldn’t you know the birds loved it!

  3. The pedestal of the old bird bath in my great grandfather’s garden is here now, but without the basin. It fell and broke because of the Loma Prieta Earthquake more than thirty years ago. It just got a big terracotta saucer placed on top. After all these years, I have not found a molded concrete basin that suits it. I really should just decide on a big saucer and paint it pretty like.

  4. This article is so helpful. I never knew a bird bath should be placed in the open. I always kept mine next to the tall hydrangea shrubs and wondered why I rarely saw birds in it. Now I know. Also, may I ask you what material the planter saucer should be made of? Do I have to worry about chemicals leaching into the water if I use a pottery or terra cotta saucer? Thanks for your help!

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