Bird Baths & Waterers
Even beyond a supply of food, birds need water most of all.
This basic need can be met with a variety of features in your garden – from a bird bath to a bird water feeder. Those two elements can provide everything your visitors need to lead a healthy and happy life.
Beyond providing a valuable resource to your birds, you also get something special in return. Water attracts every variety of bird to your garden. Seed feeders and fat balls will only attract certain species, but water can be a draw to every species! If you fancy yourself a birder, then providing water to wild birds is truly the best way to add birds to your watch list without ever leaving your garden.
Adding Water to a Garden
The wild birds in your region can be attracted by a number of water features. Some features require a sophisticated set-up, some can be added in minutes. Whatever you decide to add, your feathered friends will be glad you did!
- Bird baths – When shopping for a bird bath, take a number of things into consideration. The basin should be no more than 8cm deep and non-slippery. The placement of the bath should be in an open area, but have shrubs nearby in case your visitors are startled and need to flee. Also important -- the bath should be easy for you to clean and fill.
Remember that birds will use the bath as a drinking source as well as a place to keep clean, so maintenance is very important. Without regular bird-bath cleaning, the birds using it could fall prey to diseases and it could become a breeding ground for parasites and in some areas mosquitoes.
When purchasing a bird bath, we suggest you aim for an inexpensive, heavy plastic bird bath. Concrete bird baths do indeed look wonderful, but they can break during a freeze. Cleaning can be difficult, too, often requiring a hard-to-use power-washer.
- Pond -- Whether you have a natural or man-made garden pond, birds will get plenty of use out of it. It will be used for bathing and drinking! For some birds, it may even be the ideal place for a bite to eat!
If possible, try to keep at least a part of the shoreline clear and shallow. This will allow birds to wade in as they desire while providing a clear view of the area around them. A sense of safety will keep birds coming back and staying longer.
- Moving water – To draw birds in from afar, try adding a water feature that includes running water. Your best bet is a waterfall or fountain. DIY garden streams and waterfalls use pumps that recycle water, just as a fountain does.
Why does moving water work so well to attract birds? It sparkles and captures their attention. The sound of moving water is an additional attractant. Another important fact – to a bird, moving water suggests cleanly water.
It should also go without saying that you should regularly resupply your stream, waterfall or fountain with fresh water. Allowing it to run dry can harm a water pump motor.
- Bird water feeders -- There are also feeder options to provide a cool drink for your garden birds. Perky-Pet® offers the Sip & Seed, which has two different containers. Fill one with water and the other with seed. If your birds are still thirsty, fill them both with water!
Another popular water feeder is the easy-to-use Top Fill. It will refill during a rain storm! You can also use your hosepipe without taking it down.
Perky-Pet®’s other water feeder is the Droplet, which holds 1 litre of water and looks like a giant raindrop!
The great thing about water feeders is their ease of use! Refill one in a few seconds. Take it down for cleaning. Move it to an alternate location at your leisure. These water feeders require no electricity, water connection or complicated maintenance.
Indeed, these "bird waterers" are exactly how to attract birds with water!
Tips to place your bird water feeder
If you’ve decided to add a bird water feeder to your garden, then you’re probably wondering where you should hang it. For the most part, you will want to place them in an area very similar to a regular seed feeder.
- Higher than a feeder – If you hang your bird water feeder near a seed feeder, it’s important to have it elevated above your seed feeder. As birds eat, they will discard seed hulls. If your water feeder is too close or lower than the perches of the seed feeder, the hulls can drop into the water. This will make it difficult for your birds to get the fresh water they want!
- Away from the sun – Just like any water, a water feeder left in the sun can stagnate with algae and bacteria. To avoid this, hang your water feeder in a shaded area of your garden.
- In an easy-to-reach location – Don’t place your water feeder on a branch that’s too high for you to retrieve or rehang it! An empty water feeder weighs a lot less than a full one, so consider that too. We suggest you hang them at about shoulder level.
- Close to cover – As with a seed feeder, hang a water feeder close to cover – but not too close! You want birds to have a quick escape route for the times when they spot a predator. However, you don’t want it so close that a predator can hide in it and ambush your birds.
Tips for your bird bath
The best combination for your garden is to have a bird bath and a bird water feeder. The bath will provide your birds with a place to clean themselves and drink if they need to do so. A water feeder adds a second option for drinking without the exposure potential.
Bird baths require some extra attention, but are nowhere near as complicated and expensive as a pond, stream, waterfall or mister system.
- Fight the freeze – If you’re in a part of the country that sees regular freezes, your bird bath will definitely freeze since it’s so shallow. To unthaw, try placing an oven-warmed brick on the ice. It will melt it in no time! Alternatively, select a dark colored basin that will absorb heat and warm the water. Do not use any chemical based solutions to de-ice bird baths as they can cause harm to birds.
- Keep it clean – Remember, cleaning bird baths is absolutely vital. To do so, dump the remaining water out and scrub with mildly soapy water. Rinse it thoroughly and refill. For troublesome algae, leave the bath dry for a day or two, which allows the algae to dry up. Then scrape it out and clean again.
- Near the hosepipe – You want your bird bath to be easy for you to use too. That’s why you need to place it within the length of your hosepipe. If not, you’ll be carrying buckets to and fro!
- Height – Some birds prefer a ground-level bath. Others will congregate to a pedestal bird bath. With that in mind, why not have both? A ground-level bath can be a nice feature to add to your garden and it will be used by a variety of wildlife!
- Sun – Keep your bath out of the direct sun. Too much sun will cause algae blooms.
- Cover – Place your bird bath close to nearby cover, but not too close. A 10 to 15 foot distance is recommended.
A source of clean water can be a true life-saver to the wildlife in your area. With these tips, safety guidelines and ideas, you’ll make a difference in the lives of hundreds of creatures!