The Bird Jacuzzi: Who Says it’s Ridiculous?

Notwithstanding climate change, we can have some pretty harsh winters here in the Chicago area. During these winters, birds find fresh water even harder to come by than food. And that’s why I bought my heated bird bath from Wild Birds Unlimited, or as I call it, the Bird Jacuzzi.

Mourning Dove Heated Bird Bath
January 2012 – Mourning Dove at the heated bird bath

I just recently set up my heated bird bath for the third year in a row. When I saw that the regular  bird bath had a floating cap of ice in the morning, I figured it’s time. This year I added an extra touch: a little plastic waterfall complete with pump. With this addition, I christened my heated bird bath the Bird Jacuzzi.

The Bird Jacuzzi 2012, just recently set up.

The bird bath and the pump are plugged into an outdoor outlet we have attached to the back porch. I use a bright orange extension cord that Judy thinks is tacky, but I find to be highly festive.

The bird bath doesn’t actually make the water warm. It just keeps the water from freezing. Now, I realize that non-migratory birds somehow survived the winter before the advent of heated bird baths. Typically, they would eat snow. But eating snow forces birds to expend energy and body heat that have to be carefully conserved for survival.

I do sometimes feel a little defensive about my Bird Jacuzzi, that it’s a bit over the top. Is there anybody else out there with a heated bird bath? Surely there must be. Does anyone else feel the need to truly go the extra mile for our avian friends? And please, no sniggering from people who live in places with warm or mild winters.

32 Comments on “The Bird Jacuzzi: Who Says it’s Ridiculous?”

  1. I have had a heated bird bath for about three years. It’s really for my enjoyment – a source of water attracts more birds. And each feeder has a different kind of seed – oil sunflower, safflower, peanuts, thistle, cracked corn – plus suet. When I get concerned about the cost, I remember those wise words from my dad: It’s cheaper than golf.

  2. Your birds must love you!! I just thaw out the ice on the bird bath with a kettle of hot water, ice usually only forms where we are overnight, it doesn’t often stay freezing during the day. If we have a really bad spell, then my kettle and I are kept busy!!

  3. I have a heated model that I have had for at least 10 years. It hooks to your deck railing and I hooked it up a couple of weeks ago. We don’t have that harsh a winter, but I always have customers. When we do have a snow, the birds line the edge which is snow covered and I can see steam coming from the water. Wish I could speak bird-would love to hear those conversations. I am loving the waterfall! where did you find one so small? I think I need one.

  4. I also have feeders for each kind of food: black oil sunflower, nyger, suet, mix of small seeds, cracked corn, safflower and of course nectar, fruit and jelly in the spring/summer for hummers and orioles. I also put out nesting material in spring and keep the water from freezing in winter. Cracked corn and safflower attracts Mallard, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Junco, House and Song Sparrow. There is just about no such thing as a “nuisance bird” to me, except maybe starlings. I like Red-winged Blackbirds and don’t even mind Jays and Grackles. They love cracked corn, too.

    • I’m not as tolerant as you about nuisance birds. I like Jays and red wing blackbirds. Grackles and starlings are ok until they arrive in massive numbers. But house sparrows are ALWAYS present in massive numbers. On their own they eat most of the seed I put out. I really hate them but there’s nothing I can do about them so I just try not to think about it.

  5. I don’t have a heated birdbath but there’s another blogger I know who has one and loves it. Every time I’ve read about hers I’ve thought what a great idea. Bird habitat isn’t what it used to be so why not help these little guys out when we can? Enjoy your birdbath!

  6. Jason, I appreciatie your appreciation for our winged friends. I once tried a heater in my little pond that birds visit here in Connecticut. The thing stopped working in mid-winter, though. Maybe it’s time to try another one. All best.

  7. I love your new setup! My husband and I are at a local coffee shop this morning, and I read most of your post to him. We got a kick out of it.

    Larry bought a heated bird bath last year. He is going to put it in a different part of the yard this winter. It’s probably time to plug it in. (I had actually gotten him a bird bath heater that he used for the big tub of fish he had. He gave up on that after raccoons ate the fish.)

  8. I don’t think it’s over the top at all. It’s a brilliant idea. We have a birdbath and so have the same problem that in winter, it can be regularly covered with a thick layer of ice and sometimes has even frozen solid completely. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been late into work because we’ve been waiting for the kettle to boil to pour onto the ice, trying to melt it for the birds. I half-expect to see a poached bird in there afterwards, but it’s amazing how quickly boiling water goes cold outside.

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