Remember when mom would ask if you washed behind your ears? Well, birds are bathers too. So, if you add a birdbath for drinking and bathing, along with those two feeders you put into the garden already, you will attract more feathered friends. And let’s face it, there is nothing more enjoyable than watching several beautiful chicks bathing in the back yard, right?
Listen, all living things have a need to consume water to survive. Birds are no different. You have to remember they cannot survive on hard, dry seeds alone. Now, if that is the only thing you are providing, they must leave the sanctuary of your garden to find an open source of water to drink. If they find food and water together in the same area, somewhere else, they just might decide not to return to your Eden. The loss would be yours.
If you are just beginning, a simple bath can be created using a plastic tub, a planter base or even a hole in the ground, lined with plastic. Any medium with a gradual slope, a lip for perching, and an appropriate depth can be used. As your imagination expands, you may want to consider buying a birdbath with an ornamental style. There are even birdbaths that hang by chains. so your balcony can provide that spa like feel your guest will relish. How cool is that?
But the most common birdbath is the pedestal. This type is usually raised about 3 feet off the ground, with a diameter of 24 to 36 inches. This seems to be the preferred size for community bathing. Birdbaths are made of a variety of materials such as plastic, concrete, Terra-cotta, and even glazed ceramics. Although concrete birdbaths withstand freezing better than Terra-cotta or glazed ceramic do, all birdbaths should be emptied before the colder weather arrives. Oh, and do not buy one that has any moving, shiny objects that might frighten the birds away.
Now, birds will approach water in various ways, so placement of your birdbath is something to seriously consider. Strong fliers, like swifts and swallows, dip into the water while aloft. Open waters are most attractive to them. However, others have an approach that is much slower, longer, more cautious, such as the wood Thrush and Brown Towhee. Your average garden variety of bird likes their bath drawn somewhere in the middle. These bathers are much more comfortable using a nearby tree for their approach. This way they can find refuge quickly, in the event of a surprise attack. They will drop down for a quick drink and a splash, followed by preening.
Did you know that gently moving water is very appealing to a flock of fliers, and that audible water is even better. The musical sound of water in the garden can be created by a simple dripping of a hose, or you can try a sophisticated cascading waterfall. Here is an idea! If you have a bucket with a tiny hole in it, do not throw it away. Fill it with water, suspend it from a strong tree limb over the birdbath, and watch for the creation of glistening halos. Now that is my idea of recycling. Even the light, misty spray from a garden hose will entice the little bathing beauties to come and enjoy this oasis.
So remember, whenever you get thirsty, or feel the need for a bath, put yourself in a birds place. Notice that your tub or shower is located in a place where you feel safe and secure and gives you the ability to quench your thirst without fear of attack. OK? Oh, and don’t forget to wash behind your ears.