Being a bit of a bird nut and not having any kind of a decent birdbath in the backyard of the new house meant only one thing.  Birdbath project.  The rather ordinary and small concrete birdbath we had at our old house didn’t make the move and we haven’t found anything really comparable yet, so time to make one.

The aspect missing from our old birdbath was movement.  Moving water not only dissuades mosquitos but also attracts birds who are always in need of fresh clean water.  Without power in the yard, that meant only one thing:  Solar Fountain Birdbath.  The project was actually inspired by one of those “serenity” fountains my wife has in our bedroom which uses a small hidden pump to gently bubble water over the pebbles in a decorative vessel.

The concept is simple, but finding the parts sometimes is less so.  Solar powered pump + suitable vessel + water = Solar Fountain Birdbath.  Items 2 and 3 are pretty easy to find, but I was not finding any decent small solar powered pumps that were affordable.  The basic design was to find a reasonable size vessel, set the pump in the bottom and then fill it with pebbles or rocks to create a not too deep bath for the birds.

Finally, American Science and Surplus came through with a small solar pump. So, plan A order said pump.  It arrived and comes with the pump, a solar cell and a variety off risers and tips.

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Next, acquire a suitable vessel.  We opted for a shallow terra cotta pot with another to use as a pedestal.

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Because the main vessel has a drainage hole in the bottom, I picked up a rubber stopper to plug the hole.

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Here’s the hole plugged.  You may notice a few suspicious cracks in the terra cotta.

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After plugging, I filled with a small amount of water and tested for leaks.

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Remember those suspicious leaks?  Well, they were seeping, so it was either seal the inside with a terra cotta sealer or insert a liner.

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Now they sell nice heavy EPDM liners for ponds, but this is just a birdbath, so Plan B was to find a friendly handy vinyl garbage bag to use as a liner.  We’ll see how it works out.

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Place the liner in the vessel, then gently fill it with pebbles.  Once there’s a layer on the bottom, set the pump in the bottom and begin to fill the rest of the bowl with pebbles.

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Rather than cut the plastic, I just folded and tucked it in, then covered with rocks.  You can’t quite tell from the picture, but the rocks are higher on the edges and lower in the middle to create a beach so smaller birds and wade in.

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Next, I filled the base with extra rocks to provide stability.

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Time to place it in the yard, fill with water and connect the solar cell to the pump.  I decided I’d wait a few days before mounting the solar cell to see where it might catch a reasonable amount of sun for most of the day.

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The pumps output will vary with the amount of sun hitting the panel, so I’ll have to experiment with the various risers and fountain heads to get something that won’t shower the yard and run the fountain dry.  For the time being, I opted for the rather boring straight up tip until I do some more experiments.

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Still, in direct sunlight, the boring tip was still quite vigorous, so I may need to consider stepping up the size of the vessel or enlarging the output holes to keep the spray within the confines of the vessel.

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Voila, Solar Fountain Birdbath 1.0.

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