Do It Yourself: Bird Bath Heater

Keep your birdbath water warm all winter long

by John and Maria Sedgwick

When winter comes to our farm, the daily ritual of feeding our birds intensifies and we pay more attention to our feeders.

Several years ago I came up with an inexpensive way to keep our bird bath ice-free even during our cold northern winter weather. The heat source I chose was a car battery warmer — a plastic-coated heating element available at any auto parts dealer. The warmer, which is similar to those used in electric blankets, runs on 110 volt (regular household) electricity and doesn’t use much power. The warmer is placed on the bottom of a wooden box with an insulated bottom and a hole for the electric cord. Over this warmer is suspended a plastic food-saver container. In the accompanying sketch I have detailed the assembly, but the exact box dimensions are determined by the size of your water container. Any size can be used. I chose one approximately 10″ x 14″ x 4″ deep. Because the plastic container is only resting in the wooden frame it can be removed for easy cleaning. A rock placed in the center of the bath serves as a heat sink and as a handy perch for the bathing or drinking birds. The total materials cost of this unit is under $40.

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