|education : ADDING WATER TO YOUR HABITAT
IN SEARCH OF WATER
Birds are always looking for fresh water to drink and bathe in, to clean their feathers and remove parasites. If you want to attract even those birds that don't eat seed and won't normally visit your feeders, add a bath– everybirdy needs a drink now and then!
After splashing around in the bath, a bird wants a sunny place to preen and fluff its feathers dry. Oil is secreted by a gland at the base of its tail, and the after-bath preening adds a protective coat of oil to the feathers. Clean, functional feathers help regulate a birds' body heat.
Adding a bath to your yardscape doesn't have to be complicated! Let us help you put together a water source for your yard. Whether you're starting out, or, if you already have a bath, there are ways to enhance its attractiveness. At Bird-Song, we have water products in use to show you how easy and fun it can be!
THE BEST BATH IS A PUDDLE
The perfect bath should be a shallow, gently-sloped basin 1-2" deep, with a texture to provide sure footing, and is easy to clean. With as many designs as there are birds, select the style you like. The key is to keep it a 'bottomless' puddle– make sure there's water in it every day. Birds will travel a long distance for a reliable source of water!
Baths can be made out of concrete, terra cotta, plastic, or cast iron. Or just dig a shallow pool in the yard and line it with plastic or cement to make it leak-proof. Add plants and stones around the edge to make it more natural looking
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Birds will come to your birdbath whether it's at ground level or suspended above the ground a few feet. When you put a bath at ground level, just make sure that bushes are not so close that cats can hide and pounce on unsuspecting birds!
Place it away from feeders, so seeds don't drop into the water, and it will stay clean longer. Sun or shade will work, but partial shade is ideal, where birds can easily fly to trees for cover if disturbed.
ADD SOME WIGGLE TO THE WATER
As much as birds like water, water that moves is even more irresistible! A pond with a waterfall attracts birds like a magnet, but if a pond is too big of a project, simply add a dripper, mister, or a waterfall rock with a hidden pump to any bath. Any movement to the face of the water will draw their attention. Consider adding branches or rocks that stick out of the water too– they allow birds to sit and drink without getting wet.
KEEP IT COOL
Clean your birdbath every couple of days with a blast from a garden hose; don't let algae form. Concrete baths require extra scrubbing to keep the bumpy surface clean, so keep a scrub brush on hand. Plastics are easier to maintain, but either way, just scrub with a solution of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water and rinse well before adding fresh water to the bath. If lime deposits are a problem, a soak with vinegar will dissolve the deposits.
For additional help in keeping it clean in the warm months, there are a variety of bath specialty products to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching, and water clarifiers to keep algae from taking over. See us for bird-friendly options.
It takes a lot of energy for a bird to convert snow into a sip of water, so make it easier for the birds by providing open water in the winter, too. Using an immersion heater with a thermostat that turns on when the temperature goes below 40º will keep the water from freezing. Some models shut-off automatically when the bath is dry. Today's heating options are safe to use in plastic or concrete basins, and cost only pennies a day to operate. Use a cold-climate gauge extension cord and a ground-fault interrupted circuit to eliminate any chance of electrical shock. Add a timer if you want it to be on only during the day.
Some baths have thermostat-controlled heaters enclosed inside the bowl so there are no exposed elements, and are very safe to use (especially if you have children around!). They are great looking and can be used all year-round, just remove the cord when it's not needed in the warmer months.
Remember, you can add water anytime– the birds will love you!