Expensive Birdbaths?
Flip ’em the bird … make one for free!

I would like for you to imagine me truckin’ along,  on my way to the store.   Just walking on the sidewalk, minding my own business.   (To make the picture in your mind’s eye incredibly realistic you might want to picture me as Christy Turlington.  ‘Cause we’re often mistaken for one another on account of me looking exactly like a supermodel from the 1980’s.)

So you have that image in your head?  O.K., then imagine my gazelle like legs getting tangled in each other as I do something worse than a faceplant.  I do an *almost* faceplant; which is where you don’t completely fall but instead catch yourself in mid-air, give out a little toot and correct yourself before you actually hit the ground.  Instead of road rash you end up with a really red face and that gross tingling feeling in your toes that comes with a startling scare.  I hate that toe tingling feeling.

All because of a bird.  Now, I’ve been startled by birds before. I have been pooed on.  I have ducked behind my steering wheel as they aim right at my windshield before laughing and swerving away, I have had a bird fly out of nowhere to take a single, big peck at my head.  But this incident was different.

This bird got me tripping all over my  (supermodel-like)  legs by taking a bath.  There he was, hidden behind the hedge in my neighbour’s incredibly peaceful looking yard, fluttering his wings and splashing himself quietly in their birdbath.  I say “he” because let’s face it, only a man would bounce around, bathing, NAKED for all the world to see and not give a crap.

And that was it.  I had to have a birdbath *immediately*.  With all of my heart I wanted a birdbath and I wasn’t going to rest until I got one!  And then I promptly forgot all about the birdbath until 4 weeks later when I saw one at a flea market.  It was one of those typical black ones you see made of cast iron with a little cast iron bird sitting on the edge.  Not exactly revolutionary, but still … a nice birdbath.  I could have purchased Martha Stewart’s aviary PLUS her entire estate for the price of the birdbath.

O.K., it was only $200 ,but still.  That seems like toooo much for a birdbath.  I mean, let’s face it, the bird is perfectly happy bathing  in worm filled puddles accented by cigarette butts on the side of the road, so …

I am dedicated my next 3 posts to birdbaths you can make yourself for less than $200.  MUCH less than $200.  Starting with today’s … the cheapest of all the birdbaths I’m going to show you.   Total cost?  Free.

I made it with birch twigs I had leftover from Christmas and a wooden bowl that’s seen better days I got at a garage sale.  You may not have a wooden bowl, but I’m sure you have something that would suffice.  If you don’t have birch twigs, go out and cut some other twigs off a neighbours tree.  Be resourceful.

I researched a little about bird baths before delving into this and found that birds like bowls to be off the ground, but will indeed bathe in a bowl just laying in a garden. The depth of the water needs to be between 1 and 2 inches. So I didn’t FILL this bowl up, I just put a little water in the bottom. I’ve only had it out for a day so I can’t give you any report on how successful it is. Regardless of whether it attracts birds or not, I really like how it looks in the garden so it’s staying.



And just to prove you can plop a variety of things on top of your twigs, here’s another bowl I had lieing around. It is also technically a bit too deep for a birdbath but I’m a risk taker like that. Besides … this is the “How to Make a Birdbath for FREE” post. So … I’m kindda making a point here that you can make do with whatever you happen to have.

If you’re going to do this yourself, the only thing you need to know is that your sticks need to be hammered into the ground.  At least 12 inches of them need to be in the dirt so they’re good and sturdy for the heftier of birds that might come to bathe.  You know, the morning doves and the big fat pigeons and such.  So when you’re picking your sticks don’t forget you’ll need them to be 12″ longer than you want the height of the birdbath.

Tomorrow I’ll have the $6 birdbath for you.  Well … I mean, so long as no one asks me to appear in a George Michael video between now and then.


  1. Katie Hughes Murphy says:

    I always put a rock half submerged in the middle of the bird bath. It’s for bees and insects that fall into the water to crawl up on, dry off and fly away.
    Also, don’t forget the butterflies bees and other flying insects, give them their own watering area. Those flat-ish glass pebbles you can get just about anywhere are terrific if you put them in a shallow dish and add H2O. Insects can land, drink and not drown!

  2. Janice says:

    Walmart sells birch branches in the section that sells wreath making items. They would look great!

  3. Jo says:

    I found a beautiful bowl at a Goodwill and a base (heavy. Vase) to be glued together. When I washed out the bowl, I discovered it was porous and water leaked thru it. I searched for a safe sealant to use but could not find one. So , since I am obsessed with using this bowl, I found a clear Pyrex pie dish to use inside the decorative bowl….hope the birds appreciate my efforts!!!

  4. Nicholle Colby says:

    just found your site. love the bird bath ideas. what are the white spheres beside your birch tree bird bath.

  5. Flash says:

    you do some cool stuff!

  6. Wendy:) says:

    I came across your site by accident today, and I gotta say, you are hilarious! Today has been a bad day, just not feeling my best, and you managed to make me laugh :)
    I love the bird bath idea and will give it a try.
    Thank you

  7. peggy says:

    If the bowl is too deep, just set a large rock in the bowl under water

    • Elizabeth says:

      From a rock collector looking for ways to use the collection vs a bushel basket in the attic, I will love placing them in my birdbaths. Thank you!

  8. BALDY MAC says:

    With slime in your birdbath iv put catfish which are cheap and small in the bath and its all good,if you have kingfishers around you put wee peices of plastic pipe and cover over with pebbles for them to hide in and as i said there cheap to replace [$5 for 10] or yellow water snails which look cool to…anyway thats what iv had a go at and not bad for a hairy Harley rider…lol

  9. Michelle says:

    Instead of using bleach, you could use aquarium salt found in the fish care section of the pet or dept. store.

  10. Amanda says:

    Hi, Karen! Love the blog <3 I just wanted to mention, when looking for things to make the basin for a birdbath, PLEASE avoid anything galvanized (dull metals, like a cheap, metal dog food pans)The zinc can be toxic to birds…and as much as I hate to say it, dead birds are worse than Paris Hilton birds!

  11. Angie says:

    I made a birdbath out of a frisbee and I always wondered why the birds never came to it. Now I know, it was not high enough off the ground AND it was filled with slime, no wonder! I’m gonna try it again thanks Karen! I love your site!

  12. Tracy says:

    Oh, wow, you just made my day (and it’s only just starting out) – we already have great birdlife in our garden but now we’ll have extra-happy, frolicking birdlife, too!!!

    THANK YOU!!!
    x x x

  13. dinny says:

    LOVE the birdbath :)
    But I LOVE those white spheres too. I noticed bits of them in your back yard re-do, but now I get a better shot of them. What are they? They look like they could be light fixture globes?

    • chris says:

      love you website so happy I found it….What are the white globes in your garden love them! Everything looks great. Making some birdbaths I found some bamboo sticks at the dollar store hmmmm. would love to know what the white globes are…Thanks!!!

  14. Perfect timing. I have been wanting a birdbath for our front yard, but the one I want is $100. *pffftt* Free is so much better.

  15. Kate says:

    This. Is. Fantastic. Spending the last hour looking through your archives almost makes me less miserable about spending the next hour sitting in my cubicle waiting till I can go home and do real, dirt-under-my-fingernails, non paper-pushing Stuff. I will be making a birdbath this weekend.

    • Karen says:

      Hee! That’s great. I spent many years in a cubicle. Blech. However, on the other hand, my nails are NEVER clean, and always have dirt under them. And I often don’t brush my hair until someone comes to the door in the day. I look pretty rough when I haven’t had visitors in a few days in a row. :) Don’t forget there are 2 more birdbath options coming up in the next couple of days.

  16. Tish says:

    Could you be any funnier?! Or any more resourceful? And sooo creative to the point that I don’t even have time to get into how creative you are! Let’s just say that I’m impressed. And lastly, let’s say that I wanna be like you when I grow up. :)

    • Karen says:

      Tish! Well thank you. I am pretty funny. HAH! I’m really glad you like the blog. Hope you come back to visit again!

  17. Langela says:

    Very cute! I have been thinking about doing one that looks like a rock with a little dip on top for the water. It will be made out of concrete. Our landscaping has lots of rocks so I thought it might blend in and look natural. I’m also hoping it won’t blow over like my other baths in our strong country winds. It does take several days for birds to find a bath or new feeder. Take pictures for us when they find yours!

    • Karen says:

      Langela – at the end of this series of posts I’m going to have so many birdbaths I’ll be overrun with birds. I’ll feel like I’m in a Hitchcock movie.

    • Karen says:

      I wanna try the cement birdbath with a dip in it! Immediately. Like, right now. Even though it’s midnight and I don’t have any cement.

  18. jonquil says:

    In the process of signing for a house with a garden after ten years of living in an apartment with a crappy balcony, so this post will deffo go on my To Do list (which is enormous).

    Should also add that I was BLOWN AWAY by your garden DIY – absolutely amazing and just a little bit crazy, but well done for tackling something that would have just made me turn white with fear!

    Enjoying your blog a lot, hence not managing to do as much as you in the past 17 hours,

    Thanks for the entertainment and tips.

  19. Lori says:

    I’m new here and amazed at your McGyver-like ability to do stuff! Grrrllll!!! I think you’re my new girl crush. :)

  20. Liz says:

    Your post made me google some images of Christy Turlington because i’ve heard of her a lot (“You’ve only been in 17 once and you look fat so stop acting like you’re goddamn Christy Turlington” – American Beauty).

    For the record, you are hotter.

  21. Sirvart says:

    So very creative. I like how it looks modern/natural elementish ( I’m not sure if the right words are coming out of my mouth/mind …. it’s the allergies ) :(
    I have to say though, I have never heard of a person who had so many scary encounters with birds…. kind of like a Tippi Hedron moment :) Love your blog !!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bohemianwhimsey lady! Thanks for the compliments. Yeah … birds … bit of a thing for me. Hard to believe I lure them in with baths and food. O.K. I just had a look at your Etsy site bohemianwhimsey. Um …. HOLY CRAP! That is some of the most beautiful jewellery I’ve ever seen. Like, Holy CRAP! Good job.

  22. Tricia Rose says:

    If you have something too deep for most birds (who don’t have Christy Turlington legs let’s face it) you could always put a wee ROCK or something in the middle they could stand on! A big old basin! A tub even!

    I made a birdbath once, but it got a bit slimy, then I filled it with oyster shells so I am a birdbath failure. It had quite a nice stand which was the base of a broken bistro table…

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Tricia. My fella told me to mention the exact same thing about the rock and I completely forgot. I’ll mention it in the next birdbath post. And of course give you and him credit.

    • Langela says:

      Changing the water often helps keep the slime problem at bay or you can just add a drop or two of bleach–not much– to the water.

      • Jan says:

        Rinsing should do the trick. Bleach–not so good for the birds. Unless we want Paris Hilton with wings in our backyards.

      • Karen says:

        No we do not. Thanks Jan!

      • Langela says:

        I wondered how that tip would be taken. I almost didn’t leave it. But my bird baths are bigger than Karen’s and I use a literal drop. It is probably far less than filling your bird baths with water from the hose, water which has chlorine added to it along with other gunk. Just didn’t want people to think I liked Paris Hilton birds flying around my yard. ;)

      • Karen says:

        These birds roll around in gasoline/oil filled puddles. They can handle a single drop of bleach I’m sure. Probably not cups or buckets of it, but a drop should be fine.

      • Deb White says:

        Instead of bleach, I just read where using hydrogen peroxide works wonders and is much safer than bleach. For an average bird bath, I’d say 1/2 cup should do it. If you have a small man made pond, half a bottle

      • Carla says:

        Not only will Peroxide do the trick BUT it is good for them. Especially if you can find some “food grade” P….(good for us to BTW) It can even be drank. Heals problems in the tub with skin. so I would venture to say using a bit of Peroxide would be very beneficial for our little flying friends…
        Thanks for a great reminder because I just dont have time to clean the BB every couple of days. I am going to give the Peroxide a try. Food grade or otherwise it will work great I am betting.

    • Jan says:

      A handful of pebbles in the bottom of a bird bath looks great and has a hidden bonus: the little pools between the rocks are great for the beneficial insects you want to attract to the garden. Nothing cooler than having a butterfly arrive at your bird bath for a sip. Well, unless the next bird that arrives eats butterflies. Dinner AND a drink.

    • Karen says:

      That’s a good idea for a base by the way! It gets you thinking that you can really make a birdbath out of just about anything. I mean, good looks aside, you can make a birdbath out of just about anything. Not sure I’d want to see one made out of an old toilet on the front lawn but … it could be done.

  23. shannon@bakeandbloom.com says:

    I wish I could get birch here but I suspect this might look fab with Aussie paperperbark branches

    • Karen says:

      Just use whatever you can find. I also tried a big, tall birch log as a base. Looked really good too. Don’t forget … 2 more birdbaths to come. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee. Ah hem. I’ll try to compose myself now. I am grown woman after all. Who looks remarkably like Christy Turlington. It’s shocking really.

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