Birds are important part of our eco-system and we need to keep them as happy and healthy as possible. One way to do that is Bird Feeders, but that’s a whole different article. Here we will point out the importance of having a bird bath in your yard.
Of course, like any living creature, they would need water to drink. Bird baths can play a very important role in the health and well-being of any bird. As much as we like to see them frolicking around in bird baths, they do it to keep themselves clean. So, two very important reasons to consider putting a bird bath somewhere in your outdoor space. Place it somewhere you can enjoy the show. There are many types of bird baths available, all designed to attract our feathered friends.
Keep your Bird Bath Clean
We put this first because keeping a bird bath clean is essential. A clean bird bath will give birds a healthy place to drink and bathe and keep them coming back to visit. Keeping a bird bath clean will help prevent birds from catching diseases, keep their feathers in great shape and provide them with clean drinking water. A bird bath can get dirty over time with bird food leftovers, leaves, grass, feathers, dead bugs, dirt and let’s not forget bird poop. To keep your bird bath clean in the most natural way, you can follow these suggestions.
When you first place your bird bath in your outdoor space, avoid putting it under bird feeders or trees. This way the debris from the tree will not upset the cleanliness of the bird bath. Also, think about how much sun the area gets that you are placing the bird bath in. If the water gets too hot, it can be unpleasant and a shady spot can also help reduce algae growth especially in the heat of the summer. Algae growth can be a real deterrent to birds and can remove all the natural nutrients in the water. A good soaking in a vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 9 parts water) can help to keep the algae at bay. Avoid using any harsh chemicals as this can be harmful, especially to small birds. Be sure to empty the old dirty water prior to wiping or hosing it down and filling with clean water. Believe it or not, throwing in a few copper pennies can also help reduce the growth of algae. That may be a tall order in Canada. Or you could look for a copper bird bath.
A recirculating pump may be something to think about as well. The pump can be helpful in many ways. The moving water makes the bird bath easier for birds to find. Also, the moving water will help keep the bird bath clean as algae won’t be able to form as well on water and insects may find it harder to lay eggs.
Obviously, it is necessary for birds to drink some water. They don’t have sweat glands, so they don’t lose a lot of water, but they do drink a couple of times a day to stay hydrated. Their food sources such as berries and insects will provide them with water, but if they live solely on seeds, then they will need to find a source of drinking water. It may be harder for birds to find water in the summer especially if there has been a drought or a particularly hot summer. The hot sun can also cause the water to evaporate more quickly, so keep an eye on the bird bath to make sure it is topped up.
Small birds would find it difficult to drink from large bodies of water like streams and ponds and although bird baths aren’t really designed for drinking, it is where they can feel comfortable having a drink. That is why the water should be kept as clean as possible in your bird bath. And as mentioned above, avoid putting it in the sun and using harsh cleansers.
The snowy winter ground will provide birds with enough water for drinking, but water for preening can become more of a concern.
The majority of birds replace their feathers twice a year, but they still need to keep their feathers in good condition to fly, find food, nest and keep warm. Preening is the most important for healthy, waterproof feathers. Bird Baths are so helpful for this, especially for smaller birds. ep themselves clean and preen their feathers. When we see them splashing in the water, they’re not actually taking a bath: they’re using the water to keep their feathers in good condition.
A bird splashing around in the water looks like fun, but they are actually releasing any harmful dirt, bugs or bacteria that has become trapped inside their feathers making it easier to preen. Also, dirty birds aerodynamics may be affected and flight could be a problem. Also removing the dirt will enable the bird to spread oil from the preen gland over the feathers which helps keep them warm and waterproof.
Winter can be especially trying for non-migratory birds in our climate. They still need to preen and finding unfrozen water sources can be very difficult. A bird bath with a heater in it is a great solution. There are many available from hardware stores or Amazon has a variety in a range of price points. https://www.amazon.ca/Bird-Bath-Heater/s?k=Bird+Bath+Heater
During the winter it can be very difficult for birds to preen properly, particularly in areas where there is ice and snow. If they cannot get access to enough water then they will not be able to bathe. Breaking the ice can help but it won’t take long for the ice to freeze over again. Please do not use any additives to in the water to stop it from freezing, such as glycerine. This practice is not recommended as this can affect the waterproof abilities of the feathers.
It really is quite a simple thing to do with such an incredible impact to birds everywhere.