Can Birds Die From Drinking Pool Water

Many people have no idea that wild birds drink from pools of chlorinated water, like the one found in a backyard swimming pool. And while we can survive this type of chemical poisoning, it is not so with many other species.

In this article, we will explore whether birds can drink pool water. We’ll start by examining what a bird’s physiology is like, and then examine the effects of chemicals in pool water on their systems.

We’ll also discuss why it would be dangerous for them to drink from pools, as well as the dangers that they might face if they did.

Key Takeaways

  • Birds can be harmed by drinking pool water, which may contain harmful chemicals like chlorine.
  • Chlorine exposure can lead to respiratory issues, organ damage, and skin irritation in birds.
  • To protect birds, maintain pool water quality and provide alternative water sources in your yard.
  • Bird-friendly options include bird baths, drippers, saucers, fountains, and ponds.
  • Regularly clean and replenish water sources to ensure they are safe and inviting for birds.

Birds can Experience Chemical Asphyxiation.

Pool water is typically chlorinated to kill bacteria, but the chemicals can be toxic to birds. Chlorine and other disinfectants are ingested by wild birds, they experience a type of poisoning called “chemical asphyxiation.”

This means that chemical fumes from the pool become heavier than air, so animals inhale them until they die. This process is much quicker for smaller creatures because their systems are much smaller than ours.

Toxic to Animals.

Wild birds, such as ducks and geese, often flock to swimming pools for a drink of water. While chlorine is used in the pool to prevent bacteria from growing, it can be toxic to animals if ingested. The chlorine that is added into the pool typically has a concentration level of 1–3 parts per million (ppm).

Causes Irritation and Organ Damage.

Birds often mistakenly see these areas as bodies of water and drink the chlorine-filled water. It can lead to irritation and organ damage, which may be severe enough to lead to death.

It takes about 10–12 hours for the body to eliminate an excess of chlorinated water; during this time drinking additional chlorinated pool water will continue to poison the bird, which may eventually lead to death.

Chlorine Disrupts their Body Functions.

Bird’s skin is more sensitive than ours, and it reacts differently. Birds are prone to kidney damage when they drink chlorine pool water because the chemical disrupts their body functions.

It irritates their tissues and damages cells in a way that often leads to kidney failure. The bird may die if this condition worsens enough, or it will live with life-long consequences such as liver disease or chronic renal failure.

2004 Study on Geese & Ducks.

In 2004 a study was done on Canada Geese, and Mallard Ducks who drank water from pools with high levels of chlorine (0.5-1 ppm). Researchers found their kidneys were not able to work properly, which caused them to drink even more water. The wild birds in the study lost weight, and showed a reduced level of blood protein.

Alternative Water Sources for Birds

While pool water may pose risks to birds, providing alternative water sources in your yard can help ensure their hydration and bathing needs are met safely. Here are some bird-friendly options:

  1. Bird Baths: Install a bird bath with shallow, fresh water. Birds not only drink from it but also use it for bathing, which is essential for maintaining their feathers.
  2. Drippers and Misters: Drippers or misters can be attached to your outdoor faucet to create a gentle, dripping or misting water source. Many birds are attracted to the sound of dripping water.
  3. Saucers or Shallow Containers: Place shallow saucers or containers at ground level with a small amount of water. These can be especially appealing to ground-feeding birds like sparrows and towhees.
  4. Fountains: Bird-friendly fountains provide a continuous flow of clean water, and the sound of flowing water can attract birds.
  5. Ponds or Water Features: If you have a larger outdoor space, consider adding a pond or water feature with aquatic plants. These can attract a variety of bird species.
  6. Clean and Refresh Regularly: Regardless of the water source you choose, it’s crucial to keep it clean and replenish the water frequently to prevent stagnation and ensure birds have access to fresh, safe water.

By offering these alternative water sources, you can create a bird-friendly environment in your yard that not only promotes their well-being but also enhances your bird-watching experience.


Chlorine pool water can be deadly to wild birds. Wild birds are not designed to drink and digest chlorine, which is found in both swimming pools and tap water.

Wild birds also have a habit of drinking from puddles where rainwater has mixed with gasoline or other toxins. If they ingest too much chlorine, it will result in death from shock as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, heart and central nervous system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay for birds to drink pool water?

The short answer is yes, if there are no added chemicals. However, when you add chlorine, and other chemicals into the pool water it can be dangerous and harmful to a bird’s health. 

Can Bleach kill wild birds?

Wild birds are very susceptible to the toxins in bleach. Bleach can kill wild birds by destroying their immune system and other organs, as well as compromising their respiratory system.

Is Bromine harmful to birds?

Bromine is a poisonous chemical element that can be found in many things we use on a daily basis. A few examples of bromine-containing products are bleach, hand sanitizer, pool water and toothpaste.

Birds often mistake these substances for food or water and consume them because they look appetizing. This can have devastating effects on the bird’s health. Bromine poisoning can cause difficulty breathing, convulsions, muscle spasms and sometimes death.

Is bird poop in pool dangerous?

Bird poop in the pool can cause health problems. Bird droppings contain E. coli, which is a common bacterium found in fecal matter that causes respiratory infections and diseases like dysentery, and gastrointestinal illnesses such as salmonella and cryptosporidium .

Also, bird feces contain lots of phosphorus and nitrogen from the birds’ food, which can lead to algae blooms if not treated with proper chemicals such as chlorine or ozone treatment.

Can Pigeons drink pool water?

A pigeon can drink pool water if it is in the process of being filtered. Pigeons have been known to find their way into pools and drink from them, but they do not seem to get sick as a result. It is safe for pigeons to drink pool water as long as there are no chemicals or impurities in the water that would harm them otherwise.

Are birds attracted to pool water?

Yes, birds have been spotted in or near pools on many occasions. Some birds are naturally drawn to water and others have learned it’s an easy way to find food such as insects.

How do I stop birds from drinking my pool water?

It is important to know how to stop birds from drinking your pool water, because the chlorine in the pool can be toxic for them. One way you can prevent this problem is by using a bird net or wire fence around the perimeter of your pool. This will keep the birds out of your backyard and away from your swimming area. 

Can rabies survive in pool water?

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals. It’s typically transmitted through saliva, but can also be spread by an infected animal’s bite or scratch. In rare cases, rabies can survive in pool water for up to two weeks if it isn’t treated with chlorine.

What to do if you find a dead animal in your pool?

The thought of finding a dead animal in your pool is unsettling. Not only do you have to worry about cleaning up the carcass, but also dealing with possible health hazards from disease and bacteria. If there are any potentially hazardous situations (for example, decomposing bodies), call the local authorities immediately.

They will be able to come and remove the body. You need to take the necessary steps for decontamination. This includes using chlorine or bromine shock and brushing down the surface of the water with an algaecide.


  • Vince S

    Meet Vince, the passionate founder and author of Learn Bird Watching, boasting 30 years of birding experience. With an unwavering mission to empower fellow bird enthusiasts, Vince shares invaluable wisdom and guidance. As a dedicated moderator and contributor to Quora's Bird Watchers' Club, he actively engages with the birding community, where his insightful answers have garnered over 440,000 views and over 2,670 upvotes. Whether you're a budding birder or a seasoned avian aficionado, his wealth of knowledge is at your service.