A birdwatching backyard that lures a wide range of bird species has abundant resources for each type of bird native to their area. Providing different bird feeders, colors, perches, and bird baths are the keys to building an effective bird-watching backyard.
A bird bath is an artificial water resource; it usually is a puddle or a small pond used for birds to drink from, cool themselves down during summer, or bathe. A bird bath is useful to help create a microhabitat since they are available year-long with clean and fresh water.
The first bird bath was created in the UK in the 1830’s by a garden design company called Abrahm Pullman and Sons. It was just a simple depression in the ground. Since then, bird baths have been very successful in providing birds with water resources while enabling birders to watch all the different species in their backyards. Here is all you need to know about creating a bird bath in your backyard.
Types of Bird Baths
Bird baths can be beautiful garden ornaments, but they also serve as an oasis for birds during drought periods or summers. Bird baths are one of the easiest ways to entice birds. Listed below are some types of bird baths that can help you choose the best one for your backyard.
Staked Bird Bath
For birders who live in an apartment building, have limited space, or are not sure if they can take on the responsibility of building a bird-watching backyard, the staked bird bath is the right choice. This type of bird bath is a temporary set-up that can be moved and it’s budget-friendly. The staked bird bath has a safe bowl; this bowl is secured on a stake driven into the ground.
Hanging Bird Bath
A hanging bird bath is another space-saving garden installment for your bird-watching backyard. A hanging bird bath is great if you have an extension off your house, you can hang it from the roof; this is because one of its purposes is to ensure that no dirt or debris falls into it.
Freestanding Bird Bath
When installing a bird bath, most people have a freestanding bird bath in their minds. The freestanding bird bath is appropriate for individuals with large yards. The advantage of a freestanding bird bath is that they have large bowls that are balanced on pedestals, which helps the water to be distanced from the ground. They also assure that the birds will be safe and that predators will not be able to threaten them due to the elevation.
Ground Bird Bath
Ground bird baths are perfect for encouraging Ducks and Quails to visit your backyard. However, many types of birds don’t like ground bird baths. Ground bird baths are very basic because they only require a bowl or a basin to be placed on the ground.
What’s Wrong With an Old-Fashioned Bird Bath?
If you visit a lawn and garden shop, you’d see that they sell a typical bird bath which is a concrete basin on top of a pedestal. Although these are good garden ornaments, they are not the best setup for a bird bath. A bird bath has to resemble a shallow pond. In short, it should be an extension of the bird’s natural habitat.
Another disadvantage of having a cement bird bath is that it is difficult to clean. Cement bird baths often crack in the winter, which makes the nooks and crevices of the bowl strenuous to scrub.
Setting Up a Bird Bath
The first thing to do when setting up a bird bath is to install a basin that is easy to clean. It should have a gentle slope, this helps the bird wade in the bath. If you are planning on making a DIY bird bath, you could use an old pan, a saucer-type snow sled, or any other sturdy material that doesn’t break easily in cold temperatures.
If you opt to shop for a bird bath rather than constructing your own, then you should choose a bowl that is made with tough plastic. One important part of building your own bird bath is to get the measurements correct. Around the edges, the water should be 0.5 to 1 inch, and at the center, it should be 2 inches deep.
In order to build the most authentic bird bath, construct a shallow pool in the backyard that replicates a small pond. Planting ferns or other plants and flowers helps induce the feel of a natural habitat. A pump can be added to ensure that the water remains fresh at all times.
To give the birds good footing, you can make a base of sand on the bottom of the pool. Installing some branches or stones can also help them stand while drinking water without getting wet. Place the bird bath in the shade to lessen the rate of evaporation. It is essential to keep a cover near the bird bath because birds are vulnerable when wet and
can’t fly easily.
When there is water dripping or falling into the bird bath, it catches the bird’s eyes. An addition that you can make to your bird bath is a fountain. This increases the chance of birds being captivated by your bird bath which will attract more of them.
Constructing a Bird Bath by Bird Habitat
When constructing a bird bath, you must make them in accordance with the bird’s habitat and needs. This will ensure that they are comfortable in your backyard and the chances that they will visit increases. Here are some vital points to ensure that the birds can feel safe in your bird bath:
Perch and View
When it comes to bird baths, a bird usually takes a halt while flying long distances during the migration period. If there is a perching stick beside the bird bath, it helps birds perch and gives them support while they drink the water without drowning or getting wet.
If a perch stick can’t be arranged, a huge stone or rock placed in the bird bath can also be a great alternative.
Safe Refuge Area
There is a chance that you may have pets, such as cats or dogs, who could pose a threat to the birds that may visit your backyard. To keep the birds safe, ensure that there are no hiding places near the bird bath. The bird bath should be placed in such a way that it gives the birds a clear view of their surroundings.
Birds may be unwilling to enter the water if they do not find their surroundings safe. Two feet of open space around the bird bath allows your birds to have a clear view and at the same time, there is no hiding space for predators.
Birds have poor depth perception, so it can be hazardous to have water that’s too deep. A stick or a flat rock in the bird bath can act as a ramp for the birds to access the water and judge its depth. This may alleviate their fear and create a safe space for them.
Plants that act as a food source to birds are a great addition that you may choose to include in your backyard, along with the bird bath. It is natural for birds to look for food resources and water resources together; hence it is a great idea to grow plants in your backyard.
Plants that you may grow can be ones native to your region. They can be ornamental plants that have brightly colored flowers, or they can be plants that bear fruits and seeds.
Large birds such as the Canada Goose like to take baths. However, it is difficult for them to find a body of water big enough for them to bathe in around urban and suburban areas. In such cases, a well-made bird bath can increase the chances of such birds visiting your backyard. You need to be able to cater to their needs while providing abundant food sources too.
How to Set Up a Solar Bird Bath?
Setting up a solar bird bath, may require a kit that has a fountain operated by solar energy. In order to get these solar bird baths, you need to surf the internet. Websites like Amazon may have some solar bird bath options. You can also visit your local garden ornaments seller.
These solar bird baths come with a kit where you have to connect the nozzles to the parts in order to set up a solar bird bath. The kit consists of a water pump and several different sizes of nozzles. A solar bird bath is an excellent addition in order to create a sustainable bird-watching backyard.
After connecting all the parts of the solar bird bath, all you need to do is set it up in a sturdy basin or bowl. Regular cleaning is necessary to ensure a smooth working bird bath.
Buying Bird Baths: What to consider?
A bird bath can be found in several stores, so you may not need to hunt for them. They are readily available online too, just search “bird bath” on Amazon. The prices are also very reasonable. However, one may need to consider the quality of the bird bath before making your purchase. There is no fixed price when it comes to bird baths because they come in all sizes, shapes, and materials.
Maintaining a Bird Bath
If you wish to attract birds regularly, you must keep the bird bath clean and maintained. There are several products that can help you clean your bird bath, such as a small amount of bleach, non-toxic cleaning supplies, oregano, or olive oil.
Your bird bath must be cleaned at least twice a week. It should be washed, disinfected, and refilled with fresh water. Birds may contract infections or diseases if they drink dirty water. Water fouled with excrement, algae, fungi, or mosquito larvae makes the water undrinkable. Concrete baths can become mossy and, therefore, slippery. Consequently, they should be scrubbed too. While the plastic or resin bird baths may need to be cleaned, washed, dried, and then refilled.
Poor bird bath maintenance can lead to mosquitos and mosquito larvae build up which can create serious health risks. The water must be changed at least every 7 to 10 days to interrupt their breeding cycle and keep the water fresh.
Winter Bird Baths
During wintertime, bird baths require more maintenance than any other time of year. This is because the bowl of the basin may become extremely cold making it hard for the birds to use. They may also crack and the water may freeze.
In order to prevent the water from freezing, an immersion-style water heater can be used. These are safe to operate and perfect for bird baths. The newest ones have a feature in which the heater turns off if the water in the bird bath dries up. To avoid any danger of electric shock, place your heater on a ground-fault interrupted circuit. Another recommendation is adding glycerin to the water, which can act as an anti-freezing agent. However, it is important to note that low-level toxins and consuming large amounts of glycerin can be harmful and fatal for the birds.
Bird baths are artistic creations and can be great garden ornaments with a fountain adorning it. Many birders include bird baths in their backyards because they are the most basic item that will attract birds. In suburban and urban places devoid of lakes, ponds, or other freshwater bodies of water, bird baths prove to be a beneficial water source for the birds.
You can make a bird bath or buy one, there is no perfect choice. However, a bird bath that will last long and be useful for the bird species is important. Quality needs to be ensured since they may crack during winter especially if remain undamaged after any attacks by a house cat or other animal.
Regular maintenance will help the bird bath last longer and attract more birds as they seek freshwater. Large birds like the Canada Goose can also enjoy bird baths when they do not have access to ponds or lakes.
You can set goals to bird-watch after you have placed your bird bath in your backyard and record your results.