Bird Baths: The Bird Magnet!
Jul 31, 2020
When the summer heat sets in, we dream of cooling off in sparkling, invigorating water. It’s not just a people thing, birds need water to survive too; They drink it, play in it and bathe in it. Water, especially if it’s moving, is a bird magnet!
As temperatures rise, birds need shade, cover and water more than ever. Birds pant to cool off, exhaling air and water. The hotter they get, the more water they need to expel. According to the Grinnell Resurvey Project, the mourning dove requires 10 to 30 percent more water to keep cool than it did a century ago.*
The bird bath is as popular as the feeding station with most people who attract birds. Offering water will also help to attract a wider variety of birds, as it will tempt those who don’t normally visit feeders. You may see birds such as orioles and warblers that normally spend their time in treetops be lured to come down and splash around a bit. Moving water makes a big difference as to whether birds choose your bath or not. Who can resist the trickling sounds of water on a hot day?
You can easily include water to your garden, whether it is a small pond or a self-contained bird bath. You can choose from many styles, from pedestal-type to hanging bird baths. To provide a steady supply of fresh water to a regular bath or pond, drippers and/or misters can be added, creating the mystical allure of noise and movement that will draw birds to your yard. WBC’s water wiggler sits in the middle of your filled bird bath to create the moving water effect that will encourage birds to take notice.
Place your bird bath in the shade if possible, to keep the water cooler and fresher. Trees and perches nearby provide a safe place for birds to perch and preen after washing their delicate feathers. Water for bathing is as vital as drinking, as the sun, mites, and bacteria take a toll on feathers.
Birds don’t like to bathe in deep water, so look for something shallow or with a platform, or simply add a cluster of rocks to give your birds something to sit on.
Birds’ need for water doesn’t end in summer, however, it is just as important in cold weather when dependable water sources often freeze over. They still need water for drinking and bathing, which increases the insulating capacity of their feathers. In winter, a bird bath heater is essential to warm the water above the freezing point.
It is a delight to see birds share a bird bath, flicking and shaking until they are wet or filling their beaks with water and tossing it on their feathers. Water helps create a beautiful, welcoming oasis in your yard.
*YaleEnvironment360, “With Temperatures Rising, Can Animals Survive the Heat Stress?”
March 19, 2020
Photos: Carla Mason