Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Attract More Birds With Water
July 08, 2022
By Steve Grinley

     During the hot weather that we have had recently, our birdbath had many visits from the goldfinches. Our catbird visited in between visits to our jelly feeder. The orioles are still eating the jelly, but I haven’t seen them at the birdbath yet. Robins, sparrows, house finches, and, of course, the squirrels and chipmunks also drink from the birdbath. Water is a welcome relief on these warm days.

     Water is a great magnet for birds and draws more variety of birds than feeders alone. Many birds that don’t eat seed will visit a birdbath for water. Bluebirds, warblers, vireos, and cedar waxwings are among the visitors that you might entice to a birdbath.

     A friend in Amesbury sent me many photos that she took of birds coming to water in her backyard. Her husband had set up four or five water features in their yard. Some were just simple birdbaths, but there were also cascading creeks, with small waterfalls and shallow pools, that attracted the most amazing birds! She sent pictures of magnolia warblers, American redstarts, red-eyed vireo and cedar waxwings, as well as Baltimore and orchard orioles, and woodpeckers drinking, bathing, and enjoying the mist around the running water. Some of these birds never visit feeders, but they were in her yard!

     Though many birds get their water source from eating insects and berries, many depend on natural water sources for survival. Moving water is especially attractive, not only by the sound, but also from the freshness of the water as it is continually aerates by the motion. Most any water source is welcomed by the birds in warm weather.

     If you have a birdbath, be sure to keep fresh water in the bowl. Change the water in a small bath daily on the warmest days. If changing the water less often, there are safe, non-toxic enzyme additives that can be put in baths to keep algae from forming and keeps mineral deposits in check.

     Adding motion to even the simplest of bird baths will keep the water fresh and help to attract more birds. A dripper can allow drops of water to fall into the bath, causing ripples. Commercial drippers sit in the bath, or hang onto the side and hooks up to your faucet. A simple valve regulates the slow drip into the bath. Fresh water is constantly added, and the added motion is attractive to birds.

     There is also a “Water Wiggler” on the market that runs on batteries and can be placed in any birdbath to stir the water, creating a ripple motion in the water. The batteries will last well over a month with constant use. There is also a solar version that operates in direct sunlight.

     If you have direct sunlight on your bath, the Solar Fountain sits in the middle and will send a small stream or spray of water up to attract birds. Alternatively, a Waterfall Rock, a formed rock with self-contained pump, can be placed in the middle of the bath and it will recirculate the water. The pump in the rock moves the water more quickly, like a miniature waterfall, and creates more sound to attract birds. These, however, are corded and must be plugged into a power source.

     Of course you can create your own “bird creek” by excavating a hole, laying down a liner, edging it with rocks and adding a pump to create water flow. Surrounding the water feature with shrubs, which the birds use for protection, will help the birds stay safe from predators.

     Hummingbirds also like water, especially in the form of mist. They will often dart through sprinklers and then perch to preen their feathers. A mister, which can sit in a birdbath, sends out a fine mist that hummingbirds love. Another version can be hung in a shrub or small tree and you can watch the hummingbirds take a mist bath! Great fun!

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Port Plaza West Shops
45 Storey Ave, Suite 7B
Newburyport, MA 01950

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