How Deep Should A Bird Bath Be?

Birds are used to getting wet. They get rained on often and love to splash around in water.

Many birds don’t like deep water. They prefer to wade in the water instead of deep sea diving. You should consider the depth of your bird bath when buying it or filling it.

Bird baths can be any depth you want, but the water level should be between 1-2 inches. If you aren’t going to use any kind of stones, then your bird bath basin should be 1-2 inches deep. You can use a deeper bird bath as long as you put rocks or gravel in it to make the water shallow enough for the birds.

Some birds can float in the water. Their feathers allow them to not take on water, but to displace water. They act like the hull on a boat.

Other birds don’t have the right kind of feathers to create a water-resistant barrier. When their feathers get wet, they have a hard time flapping their wings. These types of birds will try to avoid deep water.

Can bird baths be too deep?

Yes, bird baths can be too deep if you want birds to bathe in the water. If you only want birds to drink from your bird bath, the overall depth is not that important.

Birds need to feel that they have footing when they enter your bird bath to bathe. They also want to know they can easily get out and take off. When birds get into water that is too deep, they feel like they can’t fly out. This is due to their wings feeling heavy because their feathers absorb water. Having their feet grounded makes them feel more secure and allows them to move out of the water fast.

Birds know there are predators lurking everywhere. If they can’t flap their wings because they are saturated with water, then they may become another animals dinner. Heavy, water soaked wings for a bird are like your feet and legs having mud stuck to them. It makes it very hard for them to get away.

What do you put in the bottom of a bird bath?

Your existing bird bath or the one you are considering may be too deep. You can fix the depth issue by putting different things on the bottom.

Pea gravel is a great product to use in the bottom of your bird bath. It allows birds to have good footing as they wade into the water. It is also excellent for adjusting the height of your bird bath’s water.

You can also put different rocks and stones in the bottom of your bird bath. My favorite are river stones. They look really nice in the water. Lava rocks, onyx, black pebbles, and any other stone can be used to help birds not slip.

What else can you do to keep the water from being too deep

If you don’t have any rocks or pebbles to help bring your bird bath’s water level to a safe depth, there are other things you can do to help the birds out.

Lower the water level

One of the easiest ways to adjust the depth of your bird bath is to lower or raise the water level. If you basin is too deep and you don’t have any rocks to place in it for the birds to stand on, you can put less water in the bath.

Use small branches and sticks

You can place small branches and stick in the water to give the birds something to stand on. Let the branches stick out the sides of the water. Angle them so they go down into the water. Be careful that the branches are seated firmly on the bird bath so they don’t roll when birds try to use them to go down into the water.

If you use sticks, you should bundle them together or stack them so they don’t move when birds walk on them. You can use twine or vines to tie them together.

Can birds drown in a bird bath?

It is not likely that a bird will drown in your bird bath. The water in your bird bath would have to be very deep and the bird would have to get caught on something that wouldn’t let it out of the water.

The greater danger to a bird getting into deep water in your bird bath is the scenario where a predator catches a bird off guard. When the bird spots the predator it can’t fly away fast enough because its feathers are submerged in water.

Can the depth deter birds from bathing?

When a bird first comes to your bird bath, it will try to wade into the water. If it feels it is getting too deep, the bird will probably back out. When the bird can’t find a good place in the bird bath to enter and not be in too much water, it will stop trying to bath in the water.

The bird may still try to drink from the water, but it won’t try to continue going into the water.

Do you need to clean a deeper bird bath more often?

Bird baths, no matter the size, need to be cleaned regularly. If your bird bath doesn’t have a fountain or isn’t aerated in some way, you should change the water everyday. For baths that have the water changed every day, the depth of the bird bath won’t affect the frequency in which the water is changed.

For bird baths that aren’t cleaned daily, the length between cleanings can be longer for shallower water. This means deeper bird baths need to be cleaned more often.


You don’t have to be overly worried about the depth of the bowl when you are buying a bird bath. You can easily adjust the height of the water by adding rocks or pebbles. You can also fix your bird bath depth problem by lowering the amount of water in the bowl. There is no reason birds can’t enjoy a nice dip in your bird bath without worrying about getting stuck with water logged feathers.