Although birds have evolved to take care of themselves quite well, drastic weather changes like prolonged droughts can pose a significant challenge, even a deadly one. This is where a bird bath comes in.
Birds need water for 3 essential purposes:
- Drinking, as every living creature needs in order survive.
- Cooling down, due to their much faster metabolism.
- Grooming, which keeps their feathers in top shape, so they can quickly evade predators and be better insect/fruit/rodent hunters.
It costs next to nothing to provide birds with water, but there are some tips you should keep in mind when acquiring birdbaths.
DIY or Store-Bought
Unlike most other DIY projects, Do-It-Yourself birdbath is barely fitting the DIY acronym, as you only need to find a suitable water container that would fit the purpose.
In either case, you won’t find much functional difference in DIY birdbath or one bought from the store.
All you need is a shallow pan not exceeding 2 inches in depth, it could be a long-forgotten cake pan, a flower-pot tray, or any other adequately shallow pan.
Best Place for a Bird Bath
If you are confident that there are no cats or raccoons around, place the water on an even ground so it is stable, and throw a few clean pebbles into the pan so the birds are able to judge how deep the water is. You can also add a thin layer of sand at the bottom so that they have a firm footing if it is the case of a larger birdbath.
If you opt for placing it directly on the ground, consider surrounding the edges of the birdbath with leaves and pebbles, so they are at the level with the water. This is especially important in winter months so that birds don’t get wet beyond their regular grooming practices.
Don’t overfill the container to the top, about an inch to inch and a half is enough. If it is possible, try to put the water on an elevated position. You may be confident that there are no cats around, but you never know when a snake may show up.
Shady spot when the sun is at its highest is the most optimal location. This will prevent rapid evaporation and will keep the water fresh for longer. Additionally, a shade provided by a nearby tree (not to close though so it does not become littered with leaves, seeds, and nuts) or a shrub patch will add security to a visiting bird, as they are always on a lookout for predators.
Although most birds prefer their water at ground level, as they tend to find it in nature, you can safely elevate it a couple of feet.
With the most basic birdbath out of the way, which is still drastically better than no birdbath at all, it’s time to explore other, more advanced options.
In this area, you have two options:
-Birdbath fountain, for easy grooming, drinking and superior water circulation.
-Birdbath heater, for winter months when the water freezes. Humans in their modern dwellings might not consider this a problem, but for birds this is almost equal to summer droughts when it comes to easy water availability.
As far as birdbath fountains go, it all depends on the size and permanence of it. If you want a large, ornamental birdbath fountain with a tall pillar, like the ones you regularly see in the court yards of classy houses, then an electric birdbath fountain would be your best option.
On the other hand, if you want functionality and convenience over permanence and aesthetics, solar birdbath fountain will be your best bet. That one in particular, along with being super affordable, has also a wide range of applications, as it can be submerged and placed into your mini garden pond.
Generally speaking, solar birdbath fountains are a superior solution for several reasons:
-Highly portable, due to not needing any additional infrastructure or maintenance.
-Attract birds more, due to flowing, dripping water which mimics natural resources more than a stationary water in a container. Dynamic water also signals that it is cleaner than a static one.
Of course, the biggest negative of solar birdbath fountains is that they need sun to power them. This can be alleviated by buying one that has an optional electric outlet, or one that has an integrated chargeable battery, so when there is excess sun exposure for a long period of time, batteries are also filled for the cloudy time periods.
When it comes to birdbath heaters, the options are much more limited so you will have trouble finding any reliable solar powered bath heater. After all, generating heat requires much greater energy expenditure, and the winter days are quite short and cloudy.
If you want a reliable birdbath heater, you will almost certainly need one that plugs directly into an electric outlet. Fortunately, there is quite a good selection of them, but the ones that are thermostatically controlled are the best. That means they will automatically start heating when the temperature drops below zero, so the water is never frozen. Efficient and cost-saving!
Maintenance and Cleaning
Whichever birdbath you choose, from the most basic to the most advanced, if you want to keep attracting birds on a regular basis, you must ensure that the birdbath is:
- Always filled with water
- Always filled with clean water.
Replenishing the water regularly is more important than you think. In their natural environment, birds can take advantage of temporary water sources, like shallow ponds after a rainy day, but when they find a reliable body of water, they remember it and would travel great distances to get to it. Therefore, outside of placing birdhouses, birdbaths are great for attracting and keeping birds around.
Another reason to regularly engage in replenishing water, is so that you can check if it is sufficiently clean. Birdbath fountains circulate water so it is less of an issue, but still make sure that the bottom is clean, especially of green algae. If you notice green algae forming, take it to your kitchen and vigorously scrape it off, and then rinse multiple times.
And finally, keeping the water from becoming stale prevents it from becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes, along with many dangerous pathogens and viruses.