I was surprised years ago when we first put up a bird bath that it would be used in the dead of winter. I wouldn’t want to take a bath when it is so cold outside. However, the birds have a different point of view (and the necessary feather coat). They enjoy the water in all seasons.
This year we finally got a thermostatically controlled, heated bird bath. No more carrying teakettles full of hot water out on cold mornings! The new bath does not warm the water much to the touch, but enough to keep it from freezing. We had a 12 degree (Fahrenheit) night recently, and the water in the bath did not freeze.
This series of photographs shows a Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) enjoying a bath on a cold, clear day. After a good splash, he emerges looking somewhat soaked.
Cardinals seem particularly colorful in the dead of winter, and they are often very conspicuous in the absence of any obstructing leaves on the trees. The Cardinal was so named because the male’s crest resembled a Catholic cardinal’s mitre. We tend to take these wonderful creatures for granted, but, if they were rare, people would come from all over the world just to see one.