Installation and Care for Mallee bird baths

A Mallee birdbath dish is made from a sheet of copper. It is spun by hand and it is imperfect. It will develop character from both its imperfections and the specific conditions of the garden it is installed in. If well looked after, it will last decades and over that time attract many, many birds.

Installation
The best location to install the bird bath is near shrubs or trees that can offer a launching perch for birds to access the body of water.

Ensure that the dish is well supported. Copper is a soft metal which may initially sag under the weight of the water.  As it ages it hardens and any sag it has developed will be retained. Of course, some may appreciate the asymmetry of a warped dish!

The large bird bath is best supported using a ring shape 250-400mm in diameter. If a ring is not suitable, the best strategy is to support it in several places at around 150-200m from its centre. The mini dish is more easily supported, we like to support it using three marbles sitting in dimples ground into stone.

The bath is most easily levelled with a builder’s level that sits across its edges. Level the bath in two perpendicular directions, then fill with water.

A rock may be positioned inside the dish to offer birds an extra landing platform.

Avoid striking the bath with any dense object.

Use & maintenance
The bath does not need to be cleaned. That said, tipping the water out occasionally may help the bath’s appeal to both birds and humans. Mosquitoes do not like copper so they are unlikely to colonise it.

It is not necessary to keep the bath filled to the brim. The constant changes in water level help create the lush gradations in the blue-green patina. Some gardeners may wish to let natural rainfall and daytime evaporation manage the volume of water in the bath.

Attracting birds
Birds may not flock to the bath immediately. If the dish is freshly spun and hasn’t been aged at all its bright finish may inhibit visiting birds. The bright sheen will take three to six weeks to dull. If the dish has already developed a brownish tinge, or a blue-green patina, birds will feel comfortable to explore it almost immediately.

Certain plants will encourage and attract birds to your garden. To find out more about which plants attract which birds, these links offer a starting point:

We hope all owners of Mallee birdbaths will enjoy them as much as the local birdlife (and other fauna) undoubtedly will! If you manage to capture any photos of interesting bird species in your bath, please do email them to us at kath@malleedesign.com.au.

Best Wishes,
Kath Gadd and the team at Mallee Design.