Behold - The Power of Water!
Spring has arrived and the chorus of spring
and summer songbirds is growing each day! The months ahead will provide
some of the best bird watching opportunities of the year. Attracting birds
has become the second most popular hobby in the nation. The most popular
hobby, gardening is a natural extension of our love of birds. Feeding birds
is the quickest way to attract a crowd, but dont forget to add water!
Food, shelter and water are the three fundamental
requirements for sustaining wildlife. For birds, water is a powerful attractor.
Not all birds eat seeds, but most birds need water for drinking and bathing.
A birds feathers are its most important physical feature. Healthy,
clean feathers allow birds to migrate long distances, escape predators and
search for food. Well groomed feathers also help them defend breeding territory
and attract a mate. Some birds, like Robins, take several baths a day when
they can find safe water.
Safe water can be hard to find. Fast moving
or deep water can be a hazard for smaller birds. While they are wet they
cant fly well and are vunerable. Predators often prowl the edges of
ponds, lakes and rivers making bath time a feather raising adventure! You
can provide a safe place for birds to drink and bath in your own back yard.
A bird bath will do just fine. Traditional pottery baths tend to be to deep
for most smaller birds to bath in. I recommend adding a few large, flat
rocks that slope into the water. The rocks provide better footing and allow
the bird to ease into the water gradually.
Moving water is by far the best attractor.
Birds key into the sound of moving water and come to investigate the source.
A recirculating pump or dripper can be added to an existing bath. These
units help keep the water fresh and the bath full. If you have the room
in your yard, a small avian pond will attract an even greater variety of
wildlife for your viewing pleasure. Pre molded models are available as are
shallow liner kits. An avian pond needn't be large or complex. Most importantly
it should include a good pump to move the water up over a small rock waterfall.
Adding water of any kind can double the species
of birds in your back yard. Keeping the water clean in summer months is
important but sometimes difficult. Small baths must be frequently scrubbed
with hot water and a little bleach to remove algae. Recirculating units
seem to have less trouble with algae blooms but should still be checked
and cleaned as necessary. Natural enzymes are available that can be safely
added to baths and ponds. The enzymes break down organic material and keep
the water fresher longer. A new product, Mosquito Free Water
even prevents disease carrying mosquitos from laying eggs in small water
sources. Many greenhouses and specialty wild bird stores carry these pond
supplies and can help you choose the right materials.
Windstar Wildlife Institute