A solar bird bath heater is an absolute essential for bird lovers and bird watchers who live in climates where freezing temperatures regularly occur.
Birds need access to fresh, clean water all year round, but in regions where water turns into ice, birds spend precious energy trying to find the few-and-far-between puddles they can drink from. Even their favorite warm-season bird bath watering holes may be frozen over.
Even avid bird watchers who maintain bird baths during warm weather and who regularly set out bird feed during wintertime may forget about the importance of fresh water.
The added benefit of making the extra effort to supply a solar bird bath heater will likely result in a wider variety of birds visiting your back yard. Birds from further away that may never have landed in your yard during the warm seasons will be drawn to the easily available water source during freezing days.
One of the simplest types of bird bath solar heaters can be found in a product named the Solar Sipper. It is simply an insulated bowl with a black cover with a small hole in the center that allows birds to access the water.
The black cover absorbs heat from the sun during the day and the small hole allows most of the water to remain warm under the cover. The components are all made of plastic, which makes it durable, long lasting and easy to clean and maintain.
For existing bird baths in locations where the water will freeze over, the issue becomes one of how well the original materials will withstand the cold temperatures.
Glass and terra cotta are not particularly sturdy materials for holding water in freezing temperatures. Fiberglass resin, however, holds up year round, and is readily available in many styles and sizes.
Solar power bird heaters are not easy to find, probably because the amount of electricity required to heat water is substantially more than the amount it takes to power a pump for a fountain, so larger and more powerful solar panels are necessary.
Keeping bird baths warm still requires electrical cords and a handyperson who can hook up portable solar panels to a dry cell battery to create a source that will deliver about 150 watts of power. With this method, you can build a do-it-yourself solar bird bath heater.
Heating elements can be purchased for about US$30 that will keep the water warm and keep ice from forming on the top of the birdbath. The part that heats water is set in the basin, and a short cord with a plug extends from it. This is then connected to an outdoor electrical extension cord which would be connected to an AC adapter. The adapter receives power from the DC battery, which stores the electricity generated from the solar panel.
An alternative is to use a bird bath with the electrical heating element built into the pedestal. The power source can still be the solar panel/storage battery combination to convert it into a solar heated bird bath.
The advantage to using a solar bird bath fountain with a built in heater is that it can be used throughout the year without having to set up additional equipment.
Depending on the site, it may be possible to locate the bird bath in a sun filled micro-climate location in the yard.
In cold regions that get substantial sunlight during the winter like the Rocky Mountains of the United States, south or west-facing areas near buildings that are protected on 3 or 4 sides from cold winds, can reach temperatures during the day well above freezing, even though the average outdoor temperatures are well below freezing. These sunny areas are in effect a natural solar powered bird bath heater!
No matter which type of solar power bird bath heater you end up choosing, it's important to remember the benefits you will be providing to the wildlife in your area. Drinkable water can be a scarce but necessary resource if you live in a climate with freezing temperatures, so don't underestimate its importance.
In fact, once you get your solar bird bath heater set up, consider sharing this information with neighbors and friends. They might also enjoy watching a variety of birds flock to their snow-covered yards especially older people and shut-ins. And if you happen to be the skillful handyperson who can set up the components of a solar powered bird bath heater, you may discover a new sideline business for your skills.
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