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On-ground Birdbaths


Of all the birdbath styles, on-ground baths most closely resemble natural sources of water, and therefore get more action than any other type of bath. Woodpeckers, for instance, are unable to perch on the rims of pedestal baths (unless the rim is especially wide) due to the two-toes-forward and two-toes-back design of their feet, so this is the bath they gravitate to. It’s quite a sight to see these birds land nearby on the ground and hop on over to the bath. Thrashers, towhees and cardinals are ground feeding birds by nature and therefore feel right at home in a ground level bath.




Smaller birds, such as warblers, probably feel safer in a ground level bath since they can easily jump back to the security of the ground. It’s important that the inner surface of the bath not be too slick so the birds have a secure footing (think of yourself in a slippery bathtub.).

For an alternative to buying a ready-made on-ground bath, you can secure a upside-down garbage can lid in a depression in the ground or use an attractive terra-cotta saucer. With a little landscaping, these inexpensive alternatives can be made to look very natural and attractive at a very low cost.

A ground level birdbath, with dripper or waterfall, may be the best way to encourage more and different birds to visit your yard.


You need to know…

  • Freezing water can damage on-ground baths, but they are generally less likely to be damaged than concrete or metal birdbaths.
  • Dripper lines to the baths can be damaged in freezing weather.
  • Most are resin-based and maintain an attractive appearance for a long time.
  • Generally easy to clean and maintain.


About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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