Although bird baths are commonly considered more essential for backyard birds during the winter, you can enjoy the benefits and increased bird population they bring all year round.
Why a bird bath
You can attract more species of birds to your yard with a birdbath then you can with food. Putting out seed for birds will attract only those birds who eat seeds, but putting out a bird bath will attract birds no matter what they eat. All birds need to wash and drink, and water is often much more difficult to find then food, even in the summer.
How to chose a bird bath
You want a bird bath that is shallow and not to deep, 2 or three inches in the center is deep enough. Birds will hunker down to wash themselves and amuse you greatly with their antics while they make sure they get each and every feather clean. In a pinch, an old frisbee will actually work very well, especially if it has ridges on the inside. Birds like to ease themselves into the water and sharp drops may scare them off. Like people, birds also don’t like slipping in the bath, so make sure the bottom has some grip. If your bird bath has a smooth bottom, roughing it up with sand paper or applying the same sticky surfaces that are commonly used in baths today will help. Many commercial bird baths are too deep, putting rocks in the bottom can be a good way to fix this, but it makes it more difficult to clean.
Bath, shower or both ?
Not all birds like to plunge themselves into the water. Like humans, birds have different tastes when it comes to cleaning themselves, some like a bath and some like a shower. Putting a drip in your bird bath will give birds a choice and attract more species to your yard than only a bath will.
Where to place the bird bath
You’ll want to put the bird bath where you can watch it, but protected from neighborhood dogs and cats and other animals that prey on your back yard birds. Putting the bath close to over hanging foliage will make the birds feel secure. A wet bird doesn’t fly well, but even wet they should be able to hop on a branch to safety. You’ll also want to make sure they birds can see any predators coming, and that you can see the birds bathing as well.
Cleaning your bird bath.
You can clean your bird bath each time you fill it. No one likes to take a bath in a dirty bath tub, not even birds ! I’ve found for most baths a simple wipe with a scubbie sponge works wonderfully and takes about 30 seconds if you do it a few times a week.
Whichever sort of bird bath you choose, you can count on enjoying an increase in the amount of birds in your backyard, and the amount of time you get to see them up close and personal. The birds will take their time bathing, splashing, and playing, and then fluttering up to a nearby branch to preen and re-arrange their feathers, giving you plenty of time to laugh at their antics and get to know them.