Not Your Grandmother’s Bird Bath

Last summer, a friend of mine passed on this charming, child-sized table and chairs. They sat in the front garden for a while, available to our neighbor’s daycare kids. Small children don’t do much sitting, as you know, so they didn’t get much action.

child's table and chairs white mosaic

Child-sized mosaic table and chairs

At one point I planned to use the pint-sized furniture to hold potted plants. Eventually that plan morphed out of necessity: The table and one of the chairs is now a bird bath, and a source of water for bees, butterflies and squirrels.

squirrel and bird bath from chair

MacGyvered Bird Bath and Watering Hole

We’ve had a wonderful series of storms passing through all month, but last summer was a different story. When I spotted a squirrel drinking the morning dew off of our garden umbrella, it spurred me into action. I bought a pair of heavy-duty dog food bowls, and filled them with water for all the thirsty critters that pass through our garden.

squirrel closeup on umbrella

California Grey Squirrel looking for a drink

Finding a good spot in the back garden was easy: one of the bowls sits elevated on a gardening bench out of harm’s way.

 squirrel drinking from bowl

Dog food bowl + water = happy squirrel

It was trickier in the front garden, since the planting bed at the curb is only a few inches tall.

Short term, I grabbed the small table, turned it upside down, and rested the bowl between the table legs. It worked perfectly. It was tacky, but effective.

In order to improve the look, I bought a can of Forged Hammered Spray Paint, masked off the butterfly mosaic, then painted the rest. It looks earthier than the original white paint and I really like the hammered effect. It’s also a nice match for the bowl.

DIY bird bath collage steps

Table and chairs, before and after painting, forged hammered spray paint and a large dog food bowl

I put the chair in the center of the planting bed, added the upside-down table to the chair, then wedged the bowl between the chair legs. It’s now accessible, but harder to negotiate if you’re a cat. The table After removing a drowned bee, I added a small ceramic bird so the bees and butterflies have a shallower place to drink.

Do you know the expression, necessity is the mother of invention? It would never have dawned on me to turn this charming furniture into a bird bath, but I’m so glad I did.

bird bath bowl in the rain

Rain-filled bird bath

38 thoughts on “Not Your Grandmother’s Bird Bath

  1. That is definitely NOT your grandmothers bird bath! And, [before I forget] I do know that saying Alys – and have lived by it most of my life I think – I LOVE your bird bath/critter watering hole/bowl! And so good you have rain to fill it too, isn’t that just wonderful! Painting the chairs with the ‘forged hammered’ spray paint was genius! And isn’t it genius what they come up with in spray paints now – I have not seen that one here, but then it never occurred to me I could go look for it either! An excellent job!!

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    • Pauline, it’s definitely a good quote to live by. It has certainly served me well over the years.

      I was delighted with the results of this paint. It really looks like hammered steal. It went on smoothly and in one coat, and does not seem to mind the sun or rain. I had not seen it before either, but it looked cool so I gave it a try. I’m so glad I did.

      Thanks for cheering me on. And yes, honest to goodness rain.

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  2. What a great idea! I just have two old plant pot saucers for the creatures outside… I should get inventive too. Last year we had lots of wasps coming and they not only drank the water, but used it as a swimming pool…. I watched them really enjoying themselves. If disturbed they just flew out mid ‘pool’! 😉

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    • Cathy, now you have another winter project: painting your saucers for your lovely creatures. I’ve never seen a wasp swim. What a site. I know wasps are really good for the garden, so lucky you. Is it snowing again?

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      • No snow at the moment, just rain and wind for now. The birds think spring has arrived, but it is still possible we will get another cold spell. In all it has been a very mild winter so far.

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        • The birds must be as confused as the rest of us. We’ve had mild, rainy days off and on for two weeks, but the temperatures dropped yesterday, leaving a dusting of snow on nearby Mount Hamilton. It’s beautiful. I drove up that mountain many years ago,where they also have an observatory, but the roads are full of winding turns, making me quite car sick. Every time I think of going up there, I chicken out.

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          • That’s a pity. I love driving in the mountain passes in the Alps, as long as I am behind the wheel, but as a passenger I do tend to panic a bit! I hope you manage to get up there one day Alys. 🙂

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            • It is hard to be a passenger, isn’t it, especially when you are sitting on the outer edge of the mountain passes. But to drive in the Alps…oh, lucky you. That must be extraordinary. One of the most beautiful train rides of my life was an August day through the Switzerland countryside. I’ll never forget the picturesque majesty.

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    • Thank you! I love re-purposing things.

      I’ve heard about your rain. It’s been a crazy year weather-wise around the globe, hasn’t it? Animals are smart, though, so hopefully they’ve been able to move to hire ground and are staying warm and dry.

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    • Thank you, Marlene. I too like the look more with the new paint. The darker color really shows off the mosaic, while at the same time looking more natural in the garden. It was a fun project.

      I’m thrilled with the rain! I sure hope February delivers more. Unfortunately, homes in Pacific are literally falling into the ocean. The waves have been unusually heavy and as they batter the cliff, huge chunks are falling. Sadly, many renters had to be evicted with no place to go. It’s eerie watching the news footage.

      Giant hugs to you, too. What’s your weather up to this week?

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      • I saw the footage too. It’s heartbreaking. I check very carefully before I rent or buy to cover any natural disaster possibilities. We get a few periods of good rain, some small rain and then enough dry time, to get errands run and commuters have windows for easy travel. I love it here but the summers are becoming a challenge. 😦

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        • I’m glad you’re drying out between storms. You’re wise to plan your living in accordance with the potential for damage around you. Other than earthquakes which none of us can plan for, we’re in a flat area without any nearby creeks.

          Hot summers are tough. I’m not a fan either.

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  3. You are a Mcgyver-gal for sure. I’m always surprised by what you manager to reuse things for. It’s practically unrecognizable from the little white set you started with. Have your little squirrels decided to use it? Your photo’s of them visiting are so dang cute. I’d never get anything done. I hope we get a few this summer too. They’re such a joy to watch. Good 3R’s project hon! xo K

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    • Thank you, Boomdee! The paint really changed the look, didn’t it? I like it. I have spent so much of my time at the back of the house these past months, that I’ve not seen anyone use it so far. When the warm weather rolls around, we’ll be out there more. I have seen the backyard bowl used frequently by the squirrels and the birdbath is frequented by tiny yellow birds and the hummingbirds who like to swim in it.

      I hope you get squirrels this summer too. They are a joy.

      How is your heated birdbath working out? Lots of winter visits?

      xo

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      • I’ve thought about painting my old cement bird bath too but haven’t seen a food safe paint here and worried about the water continuing to be potable for the birds afterwords. Did you buy the paint on the net?
        Actually, I’m having to return my heated birdie bath. It stopped working one night and the water froze. It’s been so mild, so I hadn’t noticed it wasn’t heating. Rats, I hope they still help us. Usually there’s a time limit for returns and exchanges 😦 xo K

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        • How disappointing to have it break so soon. I hope you can get your money back or a replacement.

          I found the paint at our local Home Depot but if you click on the link above, you could probably find it in Canada. Rustoleum is a big name brand here. Do they sell that in Canada, too?

          As for painting the bird bath, maybe you can do a hybrid like I did (I painted the furniture, but they’re drinking from a melamine bowl). I wonder if you could buy a glass bowl meant for bird feeders, then paint the bird bath structure?

          Hmmm…now I want to head over for a quick shopping trip with you. Darn that distance thing.

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    • Thank you! And yes, creative folks come up with all sorts of cleverness and I suspect you’ve mastered many an idea yourself. This just evolved. Sometimes it’s fun to surprise yourself with the unexpected. I’ve been working on a miniature Little Free Library this past week, and it too, took on a life of its own. I’ll blog about it soon. It’s been a lot of fun.

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    • Thank you, Kerry!

      It makes me sad thinking of critters going without water. Some “experts” say that you shouldn’t interfere with nature by offering food or water, yet we’ve been interfering with nature for thousands of years, putting up buildings over nesting grounds, cutting down forests and trees, and paving over large swaths of land. If I can offer food, water and shelter in my garden, then so be it.

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