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 don’t 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 it’s 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 can’t 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.

Resources:
Windstar Wildlife Institute