September 12th, 2014
Attracting Birds With Bird Baths
You've heard the term "landscaping," well how about "birdscaping?" A bird bath is a simple, yet attractive ornament for any birdscaping efforts. Don't let your feathered friends stay dirty and thirsty, host a year-round bird bath in your backyard.
Bird baths should be on every list of things to do when it comes to backyard remodeling. Yes, bird-watching is even more fun when birds are bathing. Once birds find your bird bath and realize that it's a reliable and clean source of water, they'll return again and again. Almost all bird species will use a bird bath either for drinking, bathing, or just cooling off. Bird baths are simple, fun, easy to maintain, and will serve as an attractive ornament in your private bird kingdom. The styles range in functionality, durability, portability and aesthetic appeal. Common construction materials include concrete and plastic, but may also be made from copper, aluminum, resin, glass, ceramic and plaster.
Attracting Birds to Water
Attracting birds to water is very easy. Basically, any type of container that can hold water will attract birds to it. For the most part, birds will not find your bird bath by their sense of smell because most birds do not have well-developed olfactory glands like humans, or the ability to sniff out things the way other animals can. Rather, they will most likely find your bird bath by sight and instinct. By sight because birds have good eye-sight, and by instinct because they are familiar with specific shapes that they have come in contact with through years of evolution. They are born with the ability to recognize certain shapes in nature that are related to survival. Man-made objects are no exception, as bird baths, bird feeders and birdhouses are things they have relied on throughout the centuries.
Bird Bath Placement
Birds won't use a bath if they can't see it, so you'll need to place it in an open area where it's easily noticeable. It's sure to attract all types of birds looking for a free bath. And they are even more likely to use it if they see other birds using it too. And don't forget to place the bird bath where it's easily noticeable by you also, as you'll enjoy watching birds splashing around and having a ball.
Birds from different species will usually get along with each other at a bird bath. If the bath container is large enough, they will drink and bathe in harmony with each other. If not, they'll fly away and come back later. You can bet that once a bird has found your bird bath, it is sure to come back.
Low and Shallow
There are a few other simple things to consider when placing your bird bath.
- Keep it low - Since most natural locations of water are at ground level, it seems obvious to place your bird bath low to the ground. Mount the bird bath on a pedestal or column no more than 1' to 3' feet above the ground.
- Keep it shallow - Do not pour too much water in the basin of the bird bath, since birds will need to stand up in the water to effectively bathe. They can't do this if the water comes up too close to their heads.
Providing traction to the bottom of the water basin is not really important. A bird does need steady footing as they flap their wings in the water, however, it naturally has strong, sharp claws to grip even on a slippery surface. It will not make the bird feel more confident, even when they go through the motions of taking a bath. If you want to make the bottom surface seem more natural, cover it with pebbles or gravel.
Fresh water attracts more songbirds to your yard!
Whether it's a songbird or a noisy blackbird, you'll want to welcome them all! So make sure to add fresh water to the bird bath basin every day or two.
Using Solar Power
Solar powered bird baths are designed to circulate water using energy from the sun. Since there are no running costs, you don't have to worry about running up electricity bills. The water circulates from a pump that uses free energy harnessed from a small solar panel. Just place the solar panel in direct sun light and watch your fountain flow. Then relax and enjoy birds in your yard.
Solar fountain style bird baths offer the same function, although often the water cascades down a series of tiers. Another nice aspect of cascading bird baths or fountains is the way they provide the soothing sound of moving water. In summer, mosquitoes will not be a problem either because he circulating water inhibits their reproduction, since mosquitoes need stagnant water to lay their eggs.
Other solar bird baths are designed with lights only, as they start to light-up just before the sun goes down. Their design is simpler, but they're really cool, as the basin and the ground area below it becomes illuminated. In summer, full sun exposure all day long should keep it glowing all night. But with only half day exposure, the average solar panel will supply enough juice to keep it glowing until about 2-3 AM.
Heated Bird Baths?..
Large heated bird baths are not recommended, however, the smaller ones are okay if they are designed for drinking only, not bathing. The reason is because birds might spalsh around and get their feathers soaked in warm water and then immediately fly off into the cold air. This sudden change in temperature can be harmful to birds.
Year-Round Bird Baths
A frost resistant bird bath can be used as a year-round source of drinking water for birds. Some models will heat the water only enough to keep it from freezing. The heating elements should be adjusted do that the water does not actually make the water warm, rather, just warm enough to keep the water temperature above freezing - 32°F (0°C). Again, the reason is because of the sharp change in temperature can cause harm to birds. Setting them up is easy, as they plug into outdoor outlets and are constructed with exterior grade electrical components. Winter birds will appreciate a year-round bird bath as a relaible source of drinking water during freezing winters when survival is hardest.
Hanging Bird Baths
Another approach to bird baths are hanging bird baths. Some designs you will see have the typical bowl shape, but other imaginative designs include folded hands, bird wings, leaf shape and others. They typically hang from three chains, which can interfere with your view of the birds and with the bird's wings as they dive in and take off. However, some companies have solved the problem and created a design enabling only one chain or rope to suspend the bird bath by a looping arm that is fastened to the base with a loophook at the top where the chain connects.
More traditional shapes concentrate on aesthetic appeal and don't include solar panels, electrical wires or water pumps,.. just a basic, attractive design. By contrast, eccentric designs lean away from the conservative look by including animal shapes such as frogs, swans, peacocks, cats and others.
Why should you clean your bird bath?
Songbird populations have been declining for decades now. Scientists suspect this might be caused by unseasonably cold weather, since most of the starved birds are insectivores. However, toxicological tests and autopsies have not provided a conclusive answer that explains the overall problem, especially since there are many types of songbirds from various locations that are dying. Even though there are some factors that have been ruled out, there is one outstanding factor in particular to consider - water. And again, there is no evidence that concludes that water is the main factor responsible for the overall decline, but the water used in bird baths has been on the radar of researches lately.
If you see a sick or dead bird in your neighborhood, contact the USGS. The agency and other wildlife experts are now officially asking for help from the public. They are also urging people to stop feeding and providing water for birds, at least until the illnesses stop. This is because feeders and birdbaths can help spread potential pathogens.
How to clean your bird bath..
Dump out the old water in the bird bath reservoir to get rid of all debris floating on the surface. Refill the bird bath using a solution of 9 parts water and one part bleach or vinegar, allowing the reservoir to soak in the water solution for about 10 minutes. Use a scrub brush to loosen any remaining bacterial growth and fecal matter that is still stuck to the sides and bottom of the bird bath. Continue to scrub until all signs of solidified matter are loosened. Pour out the used water solution and rinse with clean water, allowing it to air dry. Once the bird bath reservoir is completely dry, rinse again, and fill the reservoir with fresh tap water. A clean bird bath will help our avian friends to survive and stay strong. Read about how you can help the environment by helping birds.»
Some birds will not choose to live in a birdhouse, and not all birds will be attracted to a bird feeder either. But when it comes to attracting a plethora of birds to your yard, a bird bath is a sure thing. Try dressing it up a bit with misters, drippers, bubblers, fountains, over-hangs, planters and water wigglers. Regardless of style, make your backyard an oasis for birds looking to cool off during the summer months.