Painting your bird bath may seem like an easy task, but we often have the simplest of questions: What is the best color to paint a bird bath?
So I hit up a few forums and other more experienced backyard birders for answers.
Here’s what I found:
Any bright or primary colors are the best colors to paint bird baths. These colors include red and pink to attract hummingbirds, orange to attract orioles, blue to attract bluejays, and yellow to attract goldfinches. Drab camouflage colors like green can attract skittish birds. However, white scares birds away.
Though there is no hard and fast rule as to which color is the absolute best, but I’ll be taking you through the selection process in this article. Read on to find out more!
Different Colors To Attract Different Birds
“The best way to attract birds to your home is to think like a bird”Margaret Brittingham, Associate Professor of Wildlife Resources
No, I’m not telling you to be a bird brain! I’m telling you to simply put yourselves in their shoes (or feathers)! By thinking like birds, we can attract them.
Let me explain why: Birds tend to be attracted to their own natural plumage! For example, a bluejay would be attracted to a bird bath painted in blue!
Although this may not always be the case.
While some birds are drawn to their own plumage color, some birds may be attracted to colors that are similar to their food sources.
For example, hummingbirds love the colors red and pink because they look like the plants that they get their nectar from: like beebalms (monarda)!
What Color Should A Birdbath Be?
To make things easy, I summarized the best colors for attracting different bird species in the table below for your reference:
|Bird Bath Color||Bird Species Attracted||Reason||Amazon Link|
|Red and pink||Hummingbirds||Red and pink look like their food sources (beebalms, petunias)||Link (red)|
|Orange||Orioles (Baltimore, bullock’s, Altamira)||Attracted to their plumage color: orange||Link|
|Blue||Bluejays, bluebirds||Attracted to their own plumage color: blue||Link|
|Yellow||Goldfinches, warblers, hummingbirds||Attracted to their own plumage color: yellow||Link|
|Camouflage colors (brown, green, grey)||Skittish species (thrushes, ground feeders, doves)||Camouflaged patterns help skittish bird species feel safe||Link (green)|
|White||NONE||Birds interpret white as danger or aggression||–|
Acrylic paint is suitable and safe for use on the insides of the water basin on your bird bath, as well as the other parts of the bird bath.
Recommended Acrylic Paint: Blickrylic Student Acrylics Basic Color Set, 6 bottles, 16oz
This particular set comes in a pack of 6 bottles at 16 oz each with lots of bright colors like Blue, Chrome Yellow, Fire Red, Phthalo Green, Mars Black, and Titanium White.
With all the primary colors included, it’s great for attracting bluebirds, goldfinches, cardinals, and many other birds!
What I like the most about it is that it’s no-frills and really affordable!
I’ll leave a link to the set here if you want to pick a good acrylic paint set!
If you need a list of all the items needed for painting your bird bath, with steps included, check out this article where I write everything about it in detail!
Your bird bath might just look as beautiful as this!
BUT! Before you purchase your desired color of paint, you’ll also need to consider the material of the bird bath you’re painting on.
Not just any paint will stick on well to any material. So I wrote a little section on this in another article here!
How Birds See Color
Now that you know which colors you can use to paint your bird bath, you may be curious as to how birds see color! Actually, you may be surprised that birds have better vision than we humans do!
Human retinas have 3 kinds of cells in our eye called cone cells that receive red, blue, and green light, which makes us trichromatic.
Birds have 4 cone cells that can perceive red, blue, green, and ultraviolet light, which makes them tetrachromatic.
On top of seeing UV light, they can actually have a higher visual acuity than humans. This means that birds can differentiate subtle differences between two very similar-looking colors.
This ability can perhaps help birds spot camouflaged prey, or simply spot other food sources more easily from the foliage.
Given that birds can perceive such small differences in color, it’s no wonder that birds are particular about which bird bath they want to bathe in!
Does The Color Of A Birdbath Matter?
The color of a birdbath does matter. Birdbaths with brighter and primary colors can attract more birds as they can see it from far away. Birds are generally attracted to birdbaths with the same plumage as them. However, white-colored birdbaths scare birds away as they commonly associate it with danger.
What Kind of Paint Should You Use To Paint Bird Baths?
So now you know the right colors to paint your birdbath! But… there’s a question that still lingers.
What kinds of paint can you actually use? Are there any safe paints you can use?
Here’s the answer:
Oil-based, latex, or acrylic exterior paint is safe for painting birdbaths. Latex and acrylic paints are safe for use on the insides of the basin once they are dried up, but not oil-based paint. Oil-based paint is suitable for use on other parts of the birdbath. All paint must be dry before applying a new coat.
I wrote a complete starter guide of safe paints you can use to color your birdbath. It includes a really handy table, so please go check it out so you don’t make any crucial mistakes along the way!
I also wrote a COMPLETE guide on which non-toxic safe sealants to use on bird baths here! I included some steps on how to DIY too! Check it out here:
OH! By the way, if you’d like to learn how to paint your birdhouses safely, I wrote a complete guide for it! Check out the safe paint for birdhouses article here.
What Color Should The Bottom Of A Bird Bath Be?
The bottom basin of a bird bath should be of a light color to spot dirt build-up more easily in the long term. Examples of common colors of bird bath basins include beige, grey, and light green. However, do not use black-colored bird bath basins as it makes it hard to spot dirt.
Do Bright Colors Scare Birds?
Bright colors do not scare birds. Instead, birds are attracted to bright colors because they are similar to the bright colors of flowers. Bright colors like red, pink, orange, and yellow can be attractive to birds if it is the same color as their plumage. However, birds tend to be scared of the color white.
What Color Bird Bath Attracts The Most Birds?
Bird baths that have bright and primary colors attract the most birds. Birds are easily attracted to bright-colored bird baths because they either resemble their plumage color or the bright colors of flowers they frequent. White-colored bird baths attract the least birds because it scares them away.
Will Birds Use A White Bird Bath?
Birds are unlikely to use a white bird bath. Birds perceive white as a color of threat and will be scared away by it.
Ideas For Painting Bird Baths
If you’re already rearing to go paint your bird bath, hold on a minute!
I did some digging on Pinterest for you for some paint inspiration! Let me share with you some interesting paint ideas for beautifully colored bird baths to start with. I categorized them by their color for your easy reference!
Okay so you now know all the best colors you can use to paint your bird bath and which color attracts which type of bird species.
You also learned a little about how bird color vision works, saw some interesting paint ideas, and safe paints you can use.
I hope that this article has been used and that you’ve learned a thing or two from reading this!
Thanks for reading and happy birding!
My Recommended Birding Resources:
Hey there, Justin here!
Here’s a list of all my favorite resources, products, and all brands I trust and love.
Although some may be affiliate links, I will only recommend those that I think are of great value. Simply purchasing using the links helps to keep this blog running!
- My Binoculars: The pair of binoculars that I personally use is the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars. It’s a great budget pair for beginner birders. Highly valued for its price! Read my review here.
- Safe Paint for Bird Baths: Not any paint can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all safe paint for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
- Safe Sealers for Bird Baths: Not all sealers can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all sealers for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
- Safe Paint for Bird Feeders: Special care needs to be taken to paint bird feeders with the right paint. Read more in the article here!
- Safe Paint for Birdhouses: Not any paint can be used to paint birdhouses. Links to all safe paint for birdhouses are in this article I wrote!
- Birding Apps: 2 of my favorite birding apps are Merlin Bird ID, and eBird Mobile! Merlin is great for tracking and identifying birds, and eBird Mobile is great to track the birds sighted when birding. Read a post about them here.
- Birding Websites: I’ve compiled a list of links to my top 10 recommended birding websites in a blog post. Find the links here!
- Birding Podcasts: Birding podcasts are a great way to learn about birds. Links to the top 8 that I recommend can be found here!
Alternatively, you can check out my resources page here where I’ve compiled all the links to the above!