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Friday, May 28, 2010

Stokes Feeder Friday: Bird Baths

American Goldfinch, drinking at Stokes Select clamp-on bird bath

Summer like weather is here, even though it is May. LIke us, birds get hot and thirsty and just want to dip in the pool. One of the best ways you can get more birds in your yard now is to get a good bird bath and keep it cleaned and filled. We have our bird bath on our deck, near the garden hose, so it's easy to do this. We just sit on the deck and watch the birds enjoy.

Here are some Bird Bath Tips

Water works wonders in making your backyard sanctuary an instant hit with your featherd friends. Birds need clean water for drinking and bathing and If they see it, and hear it, they will come flocking.

1. All birds need water, not just the birds that come to your feeders for seed. There are many more potential visitors to water, including vireos, warblers, thrushes, buntings, bluebirds, hummmingbirds, orioles and more.

2. Traditional bird baths usually are a basin on some kind of pedestal and come in a beautiful variety of colors, textures, materials, and finishes. Pick one that goes with the style and decor of your garden.

3. Choose one that is shallow and has gradually sloping sides. Birds will land on the rim of deeper water and tip their heads down to drink, but if you want them to bath, it must be the right depth.

4. Small birds, like chickadees, prefer water less than an inch deep. Larger birds, like robins, will bath in water that is up to 2 inches deep. That is why we like bird baths with sloped edges; they have both shallow and deep parts and accommodate everything from goldfinches to Mourning Doves. We also like bird baths with a good solid edge on which the birds can perch as they drink. Our Stokes Select clamp-on bird bath attaches to decks railings and has both shallow and deeper areas to accomodate birds of all sizes.

5. Surface texture is also important. Glazed baths can sometimes be too slippery on the bottom for birds to enter and bath, although they may stay on the edge to drink. Birds need to feel sure-footed as they ease themselves into the water to the right depth to bathe. So look for surface texture that has some grip, whether pottery, stone, or cement compositions.

6. Birds are very attracted to the sound and sight of dripping or splashing water; it seems like they cannot resist investigating. Drippers work by having a tube run from the faucet to the dripper and have an adjustable valve that enables you to get just the right flow. Make the drip very slow — it conserves water and still attracts the birds. Some bird baths have a solar fountain, that circulates the water with a pump that works from a solar panel. These are energy efficient, but only work in bright sunlight so do not expect them to run all the time.

7. Misters are similar, but create a fine spray that seems to be a particular favorite of hummingbirds who fly through to bathe. Misters, if near foliage, will make the leaves wet and some birds even bathe by rubbing against the leaves.

8. Recycling fountains are also great, but usually need a larger container to take the pump that is needed. This means deeper water. You can make a deeper fountain bird-friendly by adding a shallow shelf on one side, or a large rock the birds can land on.

9. No matter what type of bird bath you have, you must keep it clean. For bird baths, scrub them each day and refill with fresh water. A good brush is a big help. For really tough stains, use a little bleach and water, scrub, and rinse very thoroughly before adding fresh water. You want to keep your bird spa spotless. Some companies even sell natural enzymes, water plants, and other biological clarifiers to control algae, especially useful for larger pools and ponds.

10. Clean and refill your bird bath every day in warm weather. This will prevent algae. Place your bird baths within reach of your garden hose to make this task much easier.

11. Place bird baths in the open, so birds can watch for potential predators, but have some sort of cover or landing spots within about 10 feet.

Have a great holiday weekend and enjoy all your birds.


MaineBirder said...

Thank you for the tips on bird baths! Very good information.

Syllobato said...

Great tip..I keep our bird bath clean, but the different depths I am going to work on. Thanks again

Syl Lobato said...

Thank you for the tips. Wonderful information,