Birds Bathing in Pools

Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, White Ibises, Laughing Gulls, Grackles, and Ducks have all been seen bathing in our pool.

I have two questions, 1, is this harmful if the birds drink the chlorine water, and 2, do birds actually spread diseases in pools? (I ask this because lately, we have had a lack of pool cleaners).

Usually, only the ducks poop in the pool, but the ibises seem quite fond of doing so as well. Is there something I should do to prevent this or let them be?


as long as the birds are not using the pool as their sole source of water, i would think that drinking from a pool occasionally would not be a big deal. i swallow water sometimes from the pool, and mostly i’m fine. and anyway, how are you going to stop a bird from drinking from the pool if that’s what it wants to do?

my understanding is that birds can spread disease to humans for sure, and i wouldn’t encourage it, but most healthy birds in a big pool are probably relatively benign to your health – probably no worse than a poopy human child or dog swimming in the pool – but i have no scientific evidence to back that up.

i think if you see ducks or geese swimming a long time in the pool, i would clean out feathers and poop (with appropriate PPE), and wait an hour or so for the sun and the chemicals to sanitize the pool a bit, since they’re big birds and, like chickens, are known to potentially carry diseases that can affect humans.

if you see a dead bird in the water, fish it out (with appropriate PPE), and maybe give a an appropriate grace period, too.

i think i would be less concerned about most other birds, unless you had, say, a bunch of pigeons or house sparrows pooping directly into a poop from, say, a branch hanging over the pool. they can carry nasty diseases, too, but i think chemicals and sun would take care of the fungi that are the main source of the issue here.

apparently grackles like to drop off their baby poop in pools. so if that happens, maybe think about putting up stuff around the pool to deter grackles.

here’s guidance from from more reputable sources:


Thanks so much

1 Like

Keep an ear on your local news for outbreaks of bird flu. Our World of Birds in Cape Town is currently not accepting wild birds for rehab - to protect their resident birds from bird flu. Referring people on to the SPCA.

Chlorine, filters etc is to clear human ‘waste’ from swimming pool water.


Some interesting finds from a quick search [my thoughts in brackets]. I’m not an authority on the matter, but the following sources seem reputable. The summary I gathered is that the amount of chlorine in your swimming pool, assuming it is properly maintained, is perfectly safe to drink.


  • Chlorine is present in most disinfected drinking-water at concentrations of 0.2–1 mg/litre [same value for ppm]
  • the guideline value is 5 mg/litre if you assume all chlorine intake is from water [certainly not realistic, but there you have it]


  • A normal level for drinking water disinfection can range from 1.0 to 4.0 mg/L. [approximately agrees with the WHO values]


  • CDC recommends pH 7.2–7.8 and a free chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas. [so, not actually that much different than tap water is allowed to be]


  • The Association Of Pool And Spa Professionals Recommends Free Chlorine Levels For Both Swimming Pools And Hot Tubs Be Kept Between 2.0 And 4.0 Ppm. [approximately agrees with the above]


  • As chlorine reacts and combines with unwanted contaminants, it forms compounds called chloramines. Chloramines, not chlorine, are responsible for the odor that many swimmers incorrectly associated with chlorine.

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.