Bird watching can be a fascinating and rewarding hobby. Attracting a wide variety of birds can be a problem. A strategically placed birdbath with running water can provide a pleasant interlude for you and your feathered friends.
A continuous source of fresh water is essential for any bird watcher’s garden. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heated bath, a mister/dripper, or a fountain, any type of fresh water will attract a wider number of bird species to your back yard and enhance your bird watching enjoyment.
Remember that birds need water all year long including winter, which can be a time of drought for them just like the summer. So all the birds that regularly visit your bird feeder will also come to your bird bath, and as a nice bonus, you’ll attract a variety of birds that don’t normally use feeders for their food supply.
These can include robins, thrushes, vireos, orioles, and warblers, all of which you’ll find it a treat to be able to better observe.
What To Look For In Design and Location
When selecting the ideal birdbath for your location and bird watching pleasure, you should above all make certain it’s convenient and safe for the birds that will be using it. Yes, there are a great many styles, but appearance isn’t everything. There are certain things that you should keep in mind so that your feathered friends will get the utmost use and enjoyment out of the new addition to your yard.
- Running Water – The sound of running water is guaranteed to lure birds. A mist fountain or drip hose can add the sense of movement to your bath that birds love and will attract more of them than a stagnant pool of water. An additional benefit of this is that hummingbirds become positively ecstatic when they get to fly through a spray of water.
- Depth — Birds do not like deep water unless they are ducks. A birdbath should have a gradual slope that is not slippery and should be no deeper than 3 inches. Preferably there should be shallow water at the edges so that the birds can walk in. They enjoy wading in the water just like people do.
- Heater — Include a birdbath heater with your purchase. This will help to attract even more birds. And don’t worry, birdbath heaters use very little electricity and will not harm the birds or endanger them in any way. What the heater does is keep the temperature of the water just above freezing so that it will not ice over in the winter weather. It does not heat the water to a temperature where injury would result.
- Location — Place your birdbath as near to the feeders as is practical so the birds can find it without any trouble. With food and water available so close to each other, birds will be likely to consider this a good nesting site.
- Safety — This should be a major consideration when determining a location for your birdbath. A wet bird has its flying speed greatly slowed, thus making it a prime target for cats. Keep the birdbath a good distance away from shrubs where cats can hide ready to pounce on an unsuspecting bird. If you want to add some extra protection a 2 or 3 foot high bath can help, and will definitely give the birds a heightened sense of security. In fact, smaller birds prefer taller birdbaths because they enable them to better scan the area for danger.
- Toxins – Keeping the birds safe from unintentional poisoning or injury is a consideration too. Birdbaths should be thoroughly checked to make sure that there are no sharp edges, and they should be made from non-toxic materials. For example, don’t use metal because it will rust, another no-no is pressure treated wood, or anything else that will leach chemicals. Especially do not use lead-lined birdbaths under any circumstances, because lead will poison birds.
Another word of caution: If you prefer to use a garden pond to provide water for birds, make absolutely certain that no chemicals are used on your lawn — fertilizer, weed killer, insecticide — can run off into the pond.
Also, in your pond or fountain, never add chemicals to rid the water of algae or insects. If you have moving water it will help lessen algae growth and insects.
Your birdbath doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. No matter what type of birdbath you choose, if you’ve taken into consideration the needs of your feathered friends as well as your own, it will be the right choice to attract more birds to your back yard. They will have great fun splashing in the water and you will have hours of enjoyment watching them.
Published in: Gardening