Having a bird bath in your backyard is a surefire way to attract more birds. Plus, it will help you attract a greater variety of species at the same time.
Programs like the Habitat Network and the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat emphasize the importance of offering water as part of your birdscaping plan, but what if you’re just getting started? What should you know first? Take a look at these tips and tricks to get your bird bath started off right:
1. The Right Location Really Does Matter
Birds like cover—it makes them feel protected and secure. So if you can place your bird bath near shrubs, trees, or other cover, there’s a greater chance they will use it. In addition, it’s best to keep your bird bath out of direct sunlight so the water doesn’t get too hot and undesirable. Placing a bird bath in a sheltered, shady spot can dramatically reduce the evaporation rate of the water so it will not dry out as quickly. Furthermore, when the water is cooler, algae will not grow as quickly and insects are not as likely to lay eggs in the water. If putting the bath in full shade is not possible, position it so it is shaded during the mid to late afternoon—the hottest part of the summer day.
Finally, be sure to pick a spot where you can see it. You want to be able to see and enjoy the birds that stop by, so put it in an area that you will see regularly.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Big
You might come across a small birdbath that is oh-so-cute and decorative, but that’s not necessarily the best for attracting birds. Definitely look for a bigger bird bath with a wider bowl on the top, which provides ample room for multiple feathered friends to stop by all at once. You could also do two or three bird baths in a single area, which is a really pretty way to landscape as well as a great way to attract more birds.
3. Give Your Birds Perching Spots
Some bird baths are deep, which isn’t really appealing to songbirds. Just an inch or two works best. If you happen to have a deeper bird bath, you can make it more appealing by adding in a few rocks in the middle or along the edges. This will give birds a place to land so they can splash and preen themselves in the water.
4. Keep Your Water Fresh
The single best thing you can do to attract birds with your current bath is to keep the water fresh. Include refreshing the water in your bird bath to your regular yard routine or watering routine. It’s such a simple thing, but it will truly make your space a lot more appealing to birds.
If you use sprinklers on your lawn or garden, you can position your bird bath and adjust its height to take advantage of the spray for an automatic refill. If you use a drip watering system, arrange the end of the drip line to easily replenish your bird bath each time you water flowers, herbs, or vegetables.
For fast, but less predictable refills, place your bird bath under one of the rain downspouts on your home or garage, trimming the downspout to the right height if necessary. Each time rainwater flows down the spout, it will run right to your bath and refill the basin. This may not be effective without regular rain, but it can be helpful for unexpected showers.
5. Clean Your Bird Bath Regularly
Refreshing the water in your bird bath is a good way to ensure your birds have clean water, but it’s also imperative to clean the bath itself. Cleaning doesn’t have to be long or involved. Just give it a good scrub on a weekly basis, breaking up any algae or other material that may have collected.
Fresh water and a good brush scrubbing every week are really all you need to keep your bird bath clean. But every now and then—a few weeks to a couple of months—use a simple cleaning mixture with your scrub and be sure to rinse well after to keep your bird bath pristine. By having a clean bird bath, you will greatly increase your chances of appealing to birds!
See also: How to Clean Your Bird Feeder
6. Maintain a Useable Temperature Year-Round
During colder months, it’s a good idea to add a heater. Yes, winter is still a good time to use a bird bath to attract birds—and by adding a heater and something to move the water, you’re almost guaranteed to attract unique visitors.
On the hottest days, add a block of ice to your bird bath. The block will initially float in the bath but will gradually melt as the day heats up and water evaporates from the bath. This can be a good quick fix for heat waves and will give your backyard birds the extra treat of a chilled drink or bath to enjoy.
7. Add Movement to Make Your Bird Bath Even More Enticing
Every successful backyard birdwatcher with a bird bath will tell you that one of the secrets of attracting birds is to offer moving water. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Maybe you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a stream or moving water right in your own backyard. Perhaps you have added a water feature to your yard like a big fountain or a small pond.
Look for water movement devices or mini solar fountains to try. Adding a simple dripper to a bath can slowly but steadily replenish the water supply to minimize water lost to evaporation. You can buy drippers to hook up to a spigot, or you can simply use a plastic bag or jug with a tiny pinhole and hang it from a hook or branch over your bird bath for a basic drip-drip-drip that will refill the bath and attract birds with each splash.
8. Try Putting Out Bird Baths During Migration Times for Increased Activity
Bird baths are good year-round—especially during migration season, which offers the chance for unique or rare visitors. Not all birds come to backyards for seed or suet, but they will all stop by for water. You might even be able to lure birds like tanagers, warblers, and buntings to your yard, particularly at the peak of migration season when there’s a lot of movement occurring.
Bird baths will absolutely increase the bird activity in your backyard. So go out and get one to put alongside your feeders and houses. It’s a great step for making your yard even more appealing to birds throughout the year.