A ground-level basin mimics natural water sources and makes your garden more attractive to birds. Place the basin near a tree to give birds a quick getaway in case predators attack and at least 15 feet from shrubs and tall perennials to prevent hiding spots for ambushers.
Start by gathering your materials and excavating a 15x6-inch bowl-shape hole that will serve as the mold for your birdbath. Cover the excavation with a 1-inch-deep layer of moist sand. Shape a flat area in the bottom of the mold so your completed basin will be stable. Spray the sand with water to keep it moist, and pat it smooth.
Spray bottle filled with water
Waterproof work gloves
50-pound bag quick-setting concrete
Small decorative objects
Wearing gloves and a dust mask, blend quick-setting concrete with water in a wheelbarrow or comparable container, following the package directions. Use about 40 pounds. If you use more, the birdbath will be extremely heavy to move. Add water from a 5-gallon bucket to the concrete mix gradually and sparingly, blending the ingredients with a hoe until the concrete resembles thick peanut butter.
Move the mixed concrete into the mold, placing it in a roughly round form. Work quickly -- the material begins setting in about 10 minutes. Once all the concrete is in place, shape it into a basin approximately 15 inches in diameter and 2-3 inches thick. The basin should slope gradually from the base to the rim. Form a lip around the outer edge.
Press recycled glass bits, shells, or other objects into the still-soft concrete for a decorative surface.
Spritz the basin with water so it cures properly. Cover the basin with sheet plastic; use a few rocks around the edge to hold it in place. Allow the concrete to cure for 3 - 7 days; longer curing enhances strength and durability.
Select a rough-surface basin such as one made of concrete or stone that gradually becomes deeper (to 3 inches) and allows birds sure footing as they wade. Improve the traction of a smooth-surface birdbath by placing gravel in it.
Situate a birdbath in the open where birds can access it -- and flee -- easily. Place the water source within quick-flight distance of trees. When setting a basin at ground level, avoid proximity to hiding places for predators. Placing a birdbath on a 3-foot-tall pedestal can make it less accessible to cats and other predators. Relocate your bath if it doesn't attract birds.
Refill the birdbath daily, and scrub it as needed to keep it clear of algae. Locate a birdbath within easy reach of the garden hose to facilitate cleaning. Every 10 days or so, scrub the bowl with a 10 percent bleach solution to kill bacteria or other disease-causing organisms.
Invite birds into your garden with the sound of moving water. You'll find various ways -- from a motorized dripper/mister to the solar-powered birdbath fountain shown here -- to create irresistible water music.