How to give birds water in winter without electricity

If the temperatures are above zero degrees in winter, it is usually not too big a problem for wild birds to find drinking and bathing water in nature. Although it is often quite cold outside, they still maintain their plumage and do not usually freeze to death if they have a damp plumage after bathing. 

During longer periods of frost, however, it is often very difficult for birds to find drinking water outside. When fresh snow falls, wild birds take it in to cover their water needs. If, however, the snow is iced up or temperatures are below zero during the day without sufficient snow, the water supply becomes a problem. For this reason, a drinking and bathing bowl should not be missing from a feeding place set up by humans.

Please make sure that the water does not freeze and replace it regularly. The bowl should be thoroughly cleaned once a day under hot water. Flat bowls in which the water is at most one to two centimetres high are ideally suited so that small songbirds cannot drown. It is best to put a large, flat stone in it for safety reasons, so that the birds have a chance to save themselves on it, if they are – for whatever reason – completely soaked and have difficulties to leave the bird watering place again.


Providing water for birds in winter

Unfortunately the offered drinking water freezes to ice after some time at sub-zero temperatures. Therefore, the water has to be renewed every few hours or you have to make sure that the water remains ice-free for a longer period of time.

Electric water heaters

There are various drinking water heaters for poultry available on Amazon. These are mostly electric hot plates on which the water bowl is placed. For water in aviaries these are meaningful, however, water points for wild birds stand mostly outside the range of plug sockets, or one would not like to have necessarily across the garden current cables.

In order to be able to keep the water ice-free for the wild birds in the winter also without power source, there are different possibilities.


Warming plates

There are also microwave heated warming plates which you can use for several hours. This is a flat, round plastic plate that can be placed under the water container. Please make sure that the water bowl stands securely and does not slip or tip over. Such a heating plate gives off heat for up to eight hours.

Some bird lovers also keep the water ice-free for some time by putting in warmed up pocket warmers, whereby strict hygiene must be observed. There is also the danger that the bag warmers will be reached and picked up by the beaks if they are too close to the water surface.


Cost-effective and simple DIY-solution

You need:

  1. a round concrete planting stone
  2. a stainless steel bowl/plate of the same size
  3. a grave light with as long a burning time as possible 


Place the planting stone in the intended place, the grave light comes into the planting stone, on top of it the water container. Light the candle and fill the container with water. The water remains lukewarm and does not freeze. Since Grablicher burns day and night, make sure that the concrete ring with the water bowl is also secured at night and that there is no risk of fire. Please remember to clean the water bowl regularly.

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