Birds need water for drinking, bathing,
and for making mud to build nests, to soak their food, and
yes! to cool off on a hot day. ( They need it just as much
in winter, especially to keep their feathers in good shape
for flight and insulation.)
Clean water will draw birds even more then
feed supplements, particularly if it's splashy and in motion.
Finally, a bird garden needs quiet.
How to "Water"
A wide variety of birdbaths can be found at a garden
supply shop or on the internet. Some basic rules:
For healthy birds, keep it clean! Fill your birdbath
daily and clean it regularly to remove bacteria, algae, debris,
and mosquito larvae. A garden hosing is fine: so are mosquito
dunks. Flush it every three to four days. (Once
or twice a year, use a heavy brush and either a mild bleach solution
(9 parts water to 1 part plain bleach) or vinegar. Rinse
2. How deep? Shallow -- only 1-1/2 to 3 inches
maximum depth, with gently sloping sides. Birds have
short legs. Better too shallow than too deep.
Surface counts! Birds need a sure footing before they
will use a bath. Rough it up
(concrete is ideal.) Plastic or smooth baths can be improved
by adding flat rocks. Leave the surface of
the rocks dry above the water edge.
4. Safety. Pedestal birdbaths are relatively
safe from predators. Place them in the open away from shrubs
and trees from which predators can hide and pounce, but close enough
to branches for preening, resting, and your own viewing.
the wild, birds look for water at ground level or lower.
You can use more then one water source. If you're using
a saucer on the grass, ground cover, or among perennials,
raise it up with bricks or a grate so birds can keep watch.
Limiting hiding spots for predators will encourage visits.
Watch out for window hazards, especially large windows.
Birds can collide on takeoff or mistake reflections for the
sky. Mark picture windows with decals or decorations to keep
them from mirroring and confusing birds.
Make It Yourself Birdbaths and Drippers
One of the easiest sources of homemade birdbaths is a garbage
lid with handle (bury the handle into the ground), terracotta
pot saucers with rocks, and the bigger the better!
For wonderful birdbath ideas, see
Las Palitas Nursery. (California dreaming....)
For magic, add a mister or a dripper. (Check
your garden supply or internet.) Dripping or gurgling sings
to birds. Attached to a hose bibb, misters spray out into
the yard and shrubbery nearby with a fine mist. (And Hummingbirds
Drippers add fresh
water to baths and ponds a drip at a time.
Moving water will draw more birds out of the trees and into
view than still water.
Home Drippers Made Easy
Drip Bucket. Take a 10 to 12 quart wooden bucket or metal
pail; drill a small hole in
so an occasionally steady drip will fall. Suspend from a tree
other support about
two feet above the birdbath. Or,
a one or two gallon plastic jug, preferably with a handle
and screw cap,
from a tree
limb, shepherd's crook, or trellis. Poke a hole in the bottom
with a pin or tack.
to the jug and test it's speed. Eight to nine drops per minute
If you wish,
you can cover the plastic jug dripper with a larger ceramic
with a drainage
hole or painted metal container. Lay an old piece of garden
limb for the supporting twine or rope to rest on to prevent
cutting the branch.**
-- Hot Weather Cocktail!" Freeze
an eight quart pot of
the pot and place it in your birdbath.
If You Make It, They Will Come!
Best of Love to All.
--Wild Birds for the 21st Century
Back to Main
Worth a Minute
Birds eat fruit (and berries, bugs, caterpillars,
worms for moisture, too.) Besides Espalier (see
Apr/May 2006 report): your balcony or deck or patio can grow
fruit in a barrel!***
All you need is a bare root or potted
dwarf fruit tree; a bucket of water to soak tree roots for
an hour or more before planting; a wooden half-barrel (approx.
25 gallon capacity); soil-based potting mix.
Prune dead or broken roots. Place barrel
in quiet, chosen location where birds can visit. Make sure
barrel sits level. Add five inches of soil-based potting mix
to the barrel. Create a small raised core of potting mix in
the center of the barrel, if the plant is bare root. Place
plant in barrel, letting the roots flare over the cone. Fill
in around roots or root ball with potting mix, so that tree
sits at same level in the new soil as it grew in the nursery.
Water throughly. Make sure your dwarf tree is well-adapted
to your climate. Check with your local botanist/ nursery specialist
for which trees are right for your area. Read the label.Remember
- birds will eat imperfect or blemished fruits just as happily
as perfect fruit.***
* - Page 176 & 177
** - Page 185 - 187
*** - Page 91
The footnoted information and above illustration can be found
in Projects for the Birder's Garden : Over 100 Easy Things
That You Can Make To Turn Your Yard And Garden Into A Bird-Friendly
Haven, Editors Fern Marshall Bradley and Editors of Yankee
Magazine, Rodale Books, 2004.
It can be ordered from Amazon.com in paperback
editions by clicking