June 14th is International Bath Day. This day honors Greek scientist Archimedes for his discovery of the principle of buoyancy, what we call today The Archimedes Principal. This discovery, the ability to measure an object’s volume by submerging it in water, is known today as The Archimedes Principal.
On this day, parents are encouraged to make bath time a bit of a science education by encouraging children to play with a variety of objects to learn the basic properties of physics such as empty versus full, floating and sinking.
It’s the perfect activity for a hot summer day, but children aren’t the only ones who love to frolic in the water. International Bath Day is for birds too. You can let your backyard birds join in on the fun by adding one of these water sources to your yard.
See Also: How to Grow a Bird Friendly Garden
Start With a Still Water Source
A bird bath
The simplest water source for your backyard is the traditional bird bath. A bird bath for your backyard can be as basic or elaborate as you want. Bird baths are typically made from materials like concrete, resin, or ceramic. The most important factor to keep in mind is the depth of the water in the bath. The water should be no deeper than 0.5 to 1 inch at the edges and a maximum of 2 inches deep in the middle of the bath for bird safety. If you’re worried about the depth, adding river rocks can ensure the water is at a safe level. Look for a bird bath that is easy to clean as you will need to clean and refill it frequently. In the warm months, when mosquitoes lay their eggs in shallow water, regular cleaning will prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Scrub it out at each clean before adding fresh water.
If you’re interested in adding something more to your yard, consider a pond. Many people picture something elaborate and complicated when they think of a pond. A pond needn’t be huge to attract birds. A backyard pond will attract songbirds, wading birds and waterfowl you otherwise might not see. When planning your pond keep the depth of the water in mind. Your pond needs to provide shallow areas for small birds to bathe. The water level should also reach areas designated for easy access to drinking. Adding a variety of plants to your pond will entice birds to drink and bathe. Lilies, fish, and grasses will help bring ducks and geese to your pond as well.
Consider Adding a Source of Moving Water
Though a favorite of hummingbirds, small birds are attracted to misters. On hot days, hummingbirds will hover in a mister. A small bird might rub against moist leaves near a mister for a quick bath. You can also position a mister to drip into a bird bath, providing another water source within a bird bath and a pleasant sound that attracts even more birds. Since birds will look for a place to perch for bathing or drinking, position your mister in an area that offers some shade as well as sun and near bushes that provide an ideal perching spot. A mister close to large leaves that can collect water for small birds to bathe is ideal. Wet leaves will glisten, further attracting more birds to your yard.
Drippers help supply fresh water to your bird bath. With a hose to attach from your dripper to your outside water faucet, it has a valve that enables you to regulate the force of the drip. Hiding the hose under mulch or a section of lawn will be less intimidating to approaching birds. One of the biggest benefits of using a dripper is the ability to attract non seed eating birds. Though subtle, the movement of fresh water attracts birds who associate movement with a fresh water source. A dripper is also helpful in keeping your bird bath full on hot summer days when your bird bath is likely to be most active. The continuous movement of water helps keep your bird bath clean as well.
A waterfall used to attract birds will usually flow into a pond or a separate rock arrangement. The pleasant splashing sounds of the water will catch the attention of many species of birds. Structuring the waterfall in a bird friendly way allows birds to access the water for bathing and drinking. Like a bird bath, the waterfall should offer a shallow area or ledge where water can accumulate for small birds to stand and bathe or drink. Strong rushing waters or turbulent falls are not in the best interest for attracting birds. Adding river rock, slate or other native rocks will help attract birds to your waterfall. Bird friendly plants make your waterfall aesthetically pleasing and grasses like beach grass offer small birds both a natural habitat and safety for shelter.
With similar properties to a stream, a bird creek is designed with providing a moving water source for birds in mind. A bird creek is a man-made stream you can build in your yard. The size varies, from five to twenty-five feet in length, and will depend on your backyard. A bird creek simulates a natural creek as it is in nature. Not only will you find birds flocking to your bird creek, but a bonus will be spotting beautiful insects such as butterflies and dragon flies stopping for a drink. Using a man-made liner, your bird creek will run on a re-circulating pump. Before planning your bird creek, be sure to consider the landscape of your grounds. A natural slope is a benefit, but if you don’t have one, you can create one yourself. A source of electricity will also be needed to run the pump. To make your bird creek as natural as nature intended, consider adding…
- River rocks or stones
- Thin twigs or broken branches
- A fall or wading area within the creek
You will need to keep your bird creek as clean as any other water source. Keeping the pump and filter clean is vital for clean water. Pick up leaves and debris that have made their way into the creek daily.
Other Considerations for Water Sources
Whether you choose to provide still or moving water sources to attract birds to your backyard, keep their safety in mind. Bathing birds are easy targets for predators such as cats, dogs, and wildlife. Be strategic when choosing a location for your water source. Make sure it’s near a bush, tree, or low branches for natural shelter.
Though most commercial bird baths are at least two to three feet off the ground, birds are known to prefer ground level bathing. If your bird bath will be on ground level, it’s vital to have shrubs close by for them to hide and seek shelter.
Still or moving, pay attention to the water level in your bird bath, pond, waterfall, or creek. If the depth of the bathing area exceeds one inch, add smooth river rocks or commercially sold garden rocks for birds to safely navigate the water. Avoid using any objects with sharp or jagged edges to prevent injury to the birds.
See Also: How Birds Help Your Garden
A Source of Enjoyment for All Seasons
Choosing the right water source for your yard will depend on your locale, your landscape, and your budget. Taking your bird watching to the next level by adding a water source to your yard will not only attract exciting new birds to your yard but be a treat to both your eyes and ears throughout the seasons of the year.