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My solar bird bath fountain turned out to be a surprise favorite feature in the garden. This self-contained little cordless floating fountain unit turns a regular bird bath into a pretty, flowing fountain. It was very easy to set up, looks lovely, and attracts lots of neighborhood birds.
Types of solar bird bath fountains
Solar bird bath fountains are either sold as an insert to add-on to a plain bird bath or as entire bird-bath units that include a solar fountain as part of their design. We already had a classic concrete bird bath, so I opted for the separate fountain insert to turn it into a fountain. I like this option due to the long-lasting nature of concrete (vs. plastic), and the ease of maintenance and replacement for the fountain functionality.
Here is a photo of the solar bird bath fountain insert I ordered online:
Finding a solar bird bath fountain
I chose the popular round, floating solar fountain bird-bath insert after seeing it on several of my favorite YouTube gardening channels. It wasn’t available in any local garden centers, but there was plenty to choose from online. I got mine from Inspire Uplift, but there are also lots on Amazon and other online sellers.
- Solar fountain I ordered (pictured): Solar Garden Fountain (Wireless)
- Similar options on Amazon: Solatec Solar Fountain, Black
- Similar, but with battery backup: Viajero Solar Fountain Pump for Bird Bath with Battery Backup
It seems that the most common type of solar bird bath fountain sold online is the floating round disc type. The corded types with a separate solar panel are easier to find locally. I wasn’t able to find the floating disc type locally, so I ordered it online. It did take a few weeks to arrive, but it was worth it! Here’s how it worked out for me:
Many solar-powered bird-bath fountains do not have battery backups, meaning that they only operate when the sun is shining. I don’t mind that, but there are options that do include a battery (like the third option listed above).
Benefits of a solar bird bath fountain
Here are some of the benefits of adding a solar bird bath fountain to your backyard:
- Attracts birds like crazy!
- Circulates water, aerating it and disrupting mosquito breeding
- Powered by sunlight, not by grid power or batteries
- Self-contained units available, making for easy replacement
- Can look graceful and sound relaxing
?My bird bath brings all the birds to the yard… I can teach you, but I’d have to charge... La la, la la, la…?
But seriously, the best part of a solar bird bath is the no charging, no external power cords, no ugly connecting wires, and generally no thinking about its power source on a regular basis. And the birds are obsessed with it, so its worth the cleaning and bird-bath maintenance.
More observations of solar bird bath fountains
Here are some more things I noticed about the particular solar bird bath fountain insert I purchased:
- There is no on/off switch. The pump starts going as soon as sunlight hits the panel (before you get to the birdbath).
- It takes a minute for the pump system to fill with water at first and start normal operation.
- This type of solar fountain works best with direct sunlight and when totally clean.
- Birdbath pumps require a deep-enough bird bath to operate properly.
- Troubleshooting usually starts with submerging it gently to encourage air to bubble out. The second most common issue with mine is the pump filter getting plugged with gunk (requiring a quick cleaning).
- The self-contained fountain insert type could be used in a pond or other garden water feature (not just a bird bath).
- Due to lack of battery backup, it can be intermittent in cloudy conditions. This bird bath pump acts more like a bubbler than a fountain on cloudy days.
- Water evaporates more quickly with a fountain in the bird bath.
- Watch the water level so the pump doesn’t run dry.
- Adding a fountain attracts more birds to a pre-existing plain bird bath.
Maintenance of a solar bird bath fountain
Solar bird bath fountains do takes some maintenance. Here are the most common maintenance activities:
- Topping up the bird bath fountain with clean water,
- Cleaning the birdbath surface, especially inside the water bowl,
- Cleaning the solar panels to allow light in,
- Cleaning the pump and filter.
The most bothersome maintenance quirk of these pumps is that gunk can plug the pump and cause the fountain to stop working. This is a problem in any water feature where the water is recirculated (or the incoming water contains impurities). The filter inevitably gets yucky stuff in it and stops water from circulating properly.
The pump filter getting plugged with bird bath gunk happens on a regular basis (sometimes near daily) when the birds are really having a pool party. Just imagine what a human pool party would look like after a long weekend without pool chemicals! …and plus mosquito larvae…gross.
I tend to clean the solar bird bath fountain every other day, along with my hummingbird feeders. This seems to work well for the bather load in our bird bath. I also change the bird bath water every couple of days (and top it up generally once or twice a day). Remember that birds use the bath to both drink and bathe, so it’s important to keep it clean for them.
Questions about solar-powered fountains in bird baths
What is the best solar-powered bird bath fountain? A great choice is to start with a plain concrete bird bath and then to add the fountain functionality with a separate solar insert. The bird bath structure will outlast the gardener who installs it, while the fountain portion is inexpensive to operate and easy to replace. Bird baths with built-in solar fountains are generally made of polyresin/plastic.
Do solar-powered bird baths work? Yes, solar-powered bird bath fountains do work, with limitations. For them to work, both the solar panel surface and the pump itself must be unobstructed. Exposed surfaces should be kept clean, and the system should be operated with clean water above the sufficient minimum depth. And most importantly, they require sunlight! Models without battery backups will generally only operate at advertised capacity in direct sunlight.
How do you make a solar bird bath fountain? A solar bird bath fountain requires a water basin, water pump mechanism, and solar power generator. Solar fountain kits with some of the different components are sold at landscaping stores and some garden centers.
Do birds like water fountains? Birds are attracted to water fountains. Water fountains provide a source of fresh water to birds in urban environments, which they use both as a source of drinking water and for bathing.
Should a birdbath be in the sun or shade? Birdbaths can be placed in either sun or shade. Placement in the full sun leads to warmer water and faster evaporation, but also with higher solar capacity for the fountain function. Placement in the shade offers cooler water that evaporates more slowly, but with low solar capacity for fountain operation. All birdbaths will need frequent maintenance such as filling and cleaning, regardless of their placement in relation to the sun.