My mother bought an iron bird bath which has quickly gone rusty and any water in it quickly becomes rust coloured. She wrote to the place where she got it and they told her that it is supposed to go rusty and will not harm the birds. I find this difficult to believe. My idea was to paint the bird bath with something that would stop it rusting and be safe for the birds. Any advice or suggestions? Thank you!
Hi White Wing
Welcome to the forums. :-)
I bet that birds drink rusty water from old rusty cattle water troughs and other old appliances without coming to much harm. When I was on holiday a dove came and had a drink out of the hotel swimming pool every morning. I assumed he preferred it to sea water and it was the only water it could find readily available.
On the other hand I don't know of any particular paint for an iron bird bath that wouldn't be toxic to birds. Before using any commercial product I would advise that you check out it's suitability for job of painting a bird bath. The only product that springs to my mind that would be suitable for the job is Hammerite, but I don't know if it would be toxic to birds.
If you want to stop a bird bath rusting, first of all, you need to treat it for the rust. There are a number of products on the market that you paint on the rusty surface; it reacts with the rust and forms a protective surface on top of the iron. Next, get an enamel paint that would be suitable for children's toys and paint the bird bath with that. I am not sure if all enamel paints are safe and lead free these days so worth checking, but those that can be used on toys are definitely safe. The enamel forms a non-rusting waterproof surface that is easy to keep clean. The good thing is that enamels come in such a range of colours that there is bound to be one that fits the purpose well.
I've just coated my rusty bird bath with a primer called FerPrime rust converter from Fuze. The company told me it's resin based so non toxic and it was very simple to use. Dried to a nice matt dark grey finish in less than half and hour and doesn't need a top coat