"A heated bird bath!" a friend of mine said while laughing. He thought we were offering our birds some kind of spa.
That's until I told him what I'm about to share with you. Now, he is letting other birders know how to help our wintering birds beyond feeding.
Probably the best way to attract birds in winter is with water. Not only will more birds visit, but the diversity of birds will be greater.
Providing a winter bird bath is even more important than doing so in summer. Open water sources can be difficult to find in winter.
All bird lovers place feeders out for the birds in winter, and more experienced bird watchers offer more than one type of seed.
But few understand the importance and results of adding a heated bird bath during winter.
Water is the most important resource you can give birds in winter.
If you've never included a source of water during winter, now is the time.
You'll be glad you did. You may be missing out on seeing species that are around in winter that you thought were gone.
Learn what your options are.
Birds need water in both Summer and Winter. Much of a bird's energy is wasted searching out open water sources in winter.
You'll be helping them survive the harshness of winter by providing a heated water source.
Not all birds will come to your feeders, but all birds need water.
There are two ways to keep water open and warm for birds during winter.
First, simply add a birdbath heater also called a bird bath warmer or de-icer to your existing birdbath.
If you already provide water for birds during summer, just add one of these units to your birdbath and plug it in.
A word of caution: not all bird baths can have water in them during the cold of winter. The material may crack with expansion and contraction.
If you're not sure, the following option may be better for you.
The second way to provide warm water for birds in winter is with a completely Heated Bird Bath.
These are birdbaths sold as a complete unit with the heating element built into the base of the bowl.
Locate it near your feeders, or where you can watch, fill it with water, and plug it in.
One of the nice things about the all-in-one unit is that you don't have to look for your heater when winter arrives. (Hopefully, you're better organized than I am.)
You can choose from a variety of baths. Some clip onto your deck railing and others can be placed on the ground as nature would supply water.
Once you've experienced attracting birds this way, you'll never want to be without one.
This isn't a simple question to answer, as there are several factors to consider.
It depends on whether you're running a 50-watt thermostatically controlled heater or a 150-watt heated bath 24 hours a day. The cost could be anywhere between 3 - 9 dollars a month.