Heated Backyard Bird Bath Upgrade - Winter 2019

In November of 2017 - as we approached our first Winter in our new house - I posted a photo of our heated bird bath being placed in the yard near our feeders.  At that time, I kept the feeders a little bit closer to the house.  That bird bath was originally from our old house in Elmhurst and it was a 'deck-mounted' heated bird bath.  So that meant that when I used it in Downers, I had to place it on a little table.  It didn't have a pedestal.    For Christmas that year, I was gifted a Water Wiggler to keep the water moving.  

The bird bath was one of the key pieces that we needed in order to meet the criteria of being a Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation (the other criteria include three kinds of food, two types of cover/shelter and places to raise young).  

The first year, I didn't see much action in the bath.  

But, during the Winter of 2018/2019, we placed the heated bird bath outside again, but this time it was used pretty regularly.  Here's some sparrows taking in the bath/water in February of 2018.

I had been wanting to upgrade the bird bath to a slightly larger one (have to fill it less often) and one that is self-standing on it's own pedestal.  I posted this photo of my ideal bath that I found at Wannemaker's in the Fall/Winter of 2018.

Fast forward to Christmas this year and Nat's folks (who are supportive of my birding!) gifted me the heated 20" pedestal bird bath - model 670 from API.  You can see it set up in our yard in the photo below:

At the base of the pedestal, you'll see some flagstone that I've grouped around the base.  Why?  because I put this bird bath out right around the new year and filled it with water.  Within five minutes I went to look at it and it had been tipped right over.  Thinking a squirrel jumped on it and it flopped.

This is a plastic bird bath and there isn't a ton of weight to it.  That's good for moving it around, but not great when it comes to being sturdy.  My (short-term) solution are these flagstones.  I'll work to make something a little bit more permanent (and better looking) once Spring comes.  For now, these heavy stones are working great at keeping it upright.  A bag of sand dumped into the base is going to be a better long-term solution that won't 'crush' the base but keep it stable.  I'll add that to the 2020 to-do list.

I've placed it close to our feeders and that's somewhat close to the house.  Due to the need (at least during the Winter) for a cord to keep the heat on, I can't put this too far back in the yard.  However, as Spring comes around, I'm thinking that moving this to a shady spot is going to pay dividends in terms of visitors.

Before putting this new bath out, I did a little bit of reading about how to maximize the use of the bath by arranging stones or other rocks along with tree branches that our feathered friends can use to perch on (and stay out of the water) to get close to drink.  This bath is pretty shallow (like 1.5" deep at the center) and the rim allows for perching as well.

I was struck by this photo that shows a branch and rocks in the bath, but I feel like mine (below) is, ummm, not as well done.

Below is a photo of my bath - in an attempt to replicate what is in that Garden Desig photo - with a larger rock that I had on hand and a piece of White Oak that had a couple of strong branches that I placed in the bowl:

To get it closer to the Garden Design image, I think I have to change up the materials from their current state.

I'd like to include a few more lower-profile stones like the ones in the example photo - ones that are rounded.  And swap out this branch for driftwood - like the piece in the Garden Design photo.   Between finding a small stone on the beach (on a future vacation) and pulling out a small piece of driftwood from Lake Elizabeth, I now have a few things I can be on the lookout for to improve the appearance of this new bird bath.  Let's call it 2020 to-do list stuff, too.


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