Birds have a few things they absolutely must have to survive:
Most bird watchers hit the ball out of the ballpark when it comes to providing food. We fill feeders with birdseed, we throw crumbs, seeds, and popcorn on the ground, we hang suet baskets, we scatter dried corn along the ground, and many of us even smear peanut butter onto tree trunks and limbs.
We’re also all over the shelter need – either intentionally providing birdhouses and extra shrubs or unintentionally living in a yard filled with trees.
However, many bird watchers forget one very important bird need: Water. Birds need water for bathing and drinking.
Buying or Making a Birdbath
When it comes to birdbaths, you can get as elaborate or keep it as simple as you want to (or as your budget will permit you to).
One of the simplest, yet most efficient, birdbaths is simply an aluminum trash can lid turned upside down. You can take the same approach I do with the containers that I have sitting around our yard: I fill them with about 3 inches of water and place stones in the water. This allows the birds to gradually wade into the water – or even to perch on the rock and enjoy the “shower” as another bird is splashing around. Happens all the time and it’s always a lot of fun to watch!
When buying a birdbath, keep in mind that it should have a gradual slope that is not slippery. Also, you don’t want the depth of the water to be more than 3 inches deep. Small songbirds do not like deeper water and 3″ is more than sufficient for larger birds. I’ve measured on my fingers – to see where 3″ would actually come to. I use this as a guide when adding water to my self-crafted bird baths.
Something else to keep in mind when buying birdbaths: Ceramic birdbaths are gorgeous, but if water freezes in them during winter, they could crack.
Locate your birdbath near a bird feeding station in your yard – someplace so the birds can easily it as they grab a bite to eat.
Perches near the water will make it even more attractive to the birds. Placing a large branch nearby serves the purpose nicely.
Birds Love Running Water
The sound and sight of running water makes birds downright giddy.
Do-It-Yourselfers can suspend a water-filled bucket with a tiny hole in the bottom above a birdbath. The dripping water will be Heaven on earth for the birds in your yard.
There are also plenty of ingenious mist fountains on the market as well as drip hoses made for bird baths and garden ponds.
However you approach the birdbath situation, remember that birds need water all year, including winter. Although it seems unusual to us, winter can be a time of drought for birds.
How do you keep the water in your birdbath from freezing? There are two options:
- Frequently add warm water throughout the day
- Invest in a birdbath water heater. The time and effort saved by purchasing a birdbath water heater is more than worth it. Besides, those frequent trips trudging through the frozen grass and, often, snow (water pitcher in frozen hand) aren’t terribly enjoyable. I’d know!
The commercially available birdbath water heaters do not use much electricity, do not harm the birds, and keep the water just above freezing.
Read more about birds…