Water for Birds

USING WATER TO ATTRACT BACKYARD BIRDS

Water is an important part of your backyard bird habitat. Wild birds need a continuous supply of fresh clean water at all times of the year, for both drinking and bathing. On hot summer days, birds can be drawn to a birdbath kept fresh with a water dripper. During the colder, months, fresh unfrozen water is just as important.

A source of water can dramatically increase the number of wild birds you attract in your backyard. Birds that may not visit your feeding station will visit water. Just some of the many varieties of wild birds that will visit water in your backyard include:

Bluebirds
Buntings
Bushtits
Flycatchers
Goldfinches
Grosbeaks
Hummingbirds
Jays
Martins
Mockingbirds
Orioles
Osprey
Owls
Quail
Robins
Roadrunners
Sapsuckers
Tanagers
Thrashers
Thrushes
Vireos
Warblers
Woodcocks

There are many ways to offer water including birdbaths, drippers, misters, shallow dishes and small ponds.

BIRDBATHS

Birdbaths are probably the most common source of water. You can offer ground level birdbaths, pedestal birdbaths or hanging birdbaths. It is important to consider the area where the bath will go and what types of birds you want to attract. Some birds prefer to drink at ground level in an open area. If there is an abundance of vegetation on the ground where predators can hide, it might be wise to place your birdbath on a pedestal. Whether your birdbath is on the ground, a pedestal or hanging, follow these suggestions for the best results:

 

  • Look for a basin that can be easily cleaned and has a gentle slope so birds can wade into the water. The bowl should be no more than 1 to 3″ deep. Anything deeper, and birds will avoid it.
  • To accommodate more than one bird at a time, the diameter should be at least two feet.
  • Make sure the bottom surface is rough to allow for solid footing, or place small rocks in the bottom to create different depth levels for birds to perch on.
  • Your water source will be more obvious to birds if the inside of the bath is a dark color. Tests have shown that water in a dark container is used more often. Reflections from the water are much more noticeable to birds./li>
  • Keep your birdbath at least 15 feet from your other feeding areas.
  • Water is especially critical for birds in the winter when most water is frozen and covered with snow. Consider adding a heated bird bath or bird bath heater. Birds will reward you with many more visits to your backyard in the wintertime.
  • Add a dripper or mister accessory to keep the water fresh. The noise and movement these accessories create draw birds like a magnet!
  • Birds can’t fly well when they’re wet. Place the water source near shrubs or trees for quick escape from predators. Having perching space nearby makes it convenient for birds to sit and preen after bathing.
  • Clean water is a must. Algae, mud or droppings can quickly make the water unappealing. Keep the water fresh: replace every 2-3 days.
  • Clean your bird bath with a stiff brush and a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. We like to let ours sit in the full sun for awhile after cleaning to help bleach out the dark spots.
  • If keeping your birdbath clean and clear is a problem, we have a new enzyme based, non-toxic water additive. Click here to check it out!

A GROUND LEVEL BIRD POND

A ground level bird pond is the most natural and effective bird bath to attract wild birds. Keep it at a shallow depth of no more than 1 to 3 inches which is ideal for bird bathing. Be sure the sides are gently sloping to allow birds to wade into the water. Pile rocks around and in the pond at different heights to allow birds places to perch and preen. If you can, create a small muddy area around the pond. Robins, swallows and martins use mud as an important part of their nest building. A concentrated source of mud is a welcome resource for these birds as they build their nests.

DRIPPERS & MISTERS

Birds are attracted to the sound of dripping or running water. The ripples and noise caused by these water accessories help birds to recognize the water as they fly overhead. Adding this type of action to your water helps to attract more birds into your yard.

Drippers can be placed in any pool of water that your birds drink or bathe in. Misters can be suspended above a birdbath or in a tree. We suggest offering a mister to attract hummingbirds. They love to bathe on misted leaves. Many birds flying overhead will be attracted to the water as is glistens on leaves. Adding a dripper or mister to your water source will also keep your water fresher. In fact, you will see many birds perching on these devices, drinking right from the dripper!

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