As the seasons turn, many of us find ourselves running outside, especially if you’re in the frigid north! Everyone has started landscaping and mowing their lawns in Minnesota, and it’s glorious.
Many love to see birds in their yard, and if you’re here, I’m guessing you’re in that group! An obvious way to make your area more desirable to birds is to be a “full service” yard. Their one-stop-shop for food and drink, and their necessary baths to remove dust. Adding a consistent supply of clean water to your yard may also appeal to birds that don’t eat seeds and wouldn’t come to your feeders, growing your viewing pleasure!
I wanted to add a bird bath near my feeders in my backyard, but I didn’t want to have to move it when mowing, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money or time on one. I wasn’t finding anything colorful in a lower price range, either. The idea of a suspended bath I designed appealed to me, so I set out to make one.
My birdbath ended up costing just over $12, but I could have easily found a cheaper bowl…I just loved the color of this one when I found it at my local grocery store. I also picked up my chain and S hooks from Home Depot, where I could have gotten them cheaper on Amazon (but I was too impatient to wait for shipping or making a large enough order for free shipping). The whole project, even with messing around with the beaded wire embellishments, took about an hour and a half, including three layers of drying time for the paint and sealer.
In case you love this, here’s what my process looked like, so you can make a custom birdbath for your area too!
Items I used:
- Thick plastic shallow bowl ($4.99)
- Ten feet of ¼ inch chain ($5.30)
- S hook (4pk, 30lb capacity, $1.89)
- Drill with a small bit (I used a 3/32 bit, but it just has to be a little larger than your wire or jump ring)
- Wire cutter or two pairs of pliers
- Craft paint (optional) (I already had)
- Acrylic sealer (I already had, costs around $6 for a 12oz spray can, smaller available)
- Jewelry wire (I used 18 gauge stainless) and assorted beads, or 3-4 medium-sized jump rings (I already had the beads)
- A rock for a bird platform (found item)
- Determine where you would like holes drilled into your shallow plastic bowl. If it’s an oval shape, four holes might work best, whereas three worked best for my round shaped dish.
- My dish was a very hard acrylic plastic, and normal drilling wasn’t getting anywhere. If you try just drilling your holes and it’s not drilling, heat your drill bit. I simply turned my electric stove coil on a low/medium heat and held the bit end to it for a few seconds before drilling each hole. The hole easily drills through when it’s heated. Open flame on a gas stove, or even a match would work great.
- After your holes are drilled, you can paint the underside of your dish. The underside of mine was a boring white, so I painted it a bronze color that I had on hand to compliment the blue-green dish color. Any kind of craft paint, like the little bottles of Plaid or FolkArt brands would work great. I did two coats, and then took it outside and sprayed it with a sealer.
- After the sealer was dry on mine, I decided to add a little beautification to my birdie spa, and made beaded loops to connect the dish to the chain. I love the way sunlight hits the translucent beads. You can also simply thread medium-sized jump rings through the holes.
- Cut or bend a link (using a wire cutter or two pliers) to make two 5-foot lengths of chain, set one aside.
- Since I had three holes, I bent links to separate the other 5-foot length into three equal lengths, a little over 1.5 feet each in length.
- Bend and crimp one end of each of your small lengths of chain onto your wire loop/jump rings, and the other end to one of the ends of the longer chain, so they all meet in the middle. If you have four holes, you will need to join them to another jump ring which you would then attach to the longer chain, as there was just enough room in the link on mine to join three to the longer length chain.
- Find your branch/beam/horizontal anchor, being mindful of if it might slip if it’s windy, as well as keeping it far enough from the tree trunk to ward off pesky squirrels from trying to jump in. Loop your chain over the branch and secure it to itself with an S hook. Mine hangs about five feet off the ground, also keeping raccoons from toppling it over (unlike the kind that sit on the ground)
- Wash your rock, add it to the middle of the bath, and add clean water, allowing the top of your rock to be above the water line.
- Enjoy your happy visitors!
Always dump out the water and refill every 2-3 days, keeping bath free of tree debris, bugs, and bird poo, while also limiting mosquito reproduction, and you will enjoy all the neighborhood birds coming to your consistently clean spa!