Birdbaths Attract Birds to Your Yard

Just like people, birds need clean, safe, reliable sources of water for drinking and bathing.

Putting a birdbath in your yard is an easy, affordable, and fun way for you to help birds and connect with nature.

While doing some reading for this post, I came across an Audubon article entitled Why Do Birds Matter? The first thought that popped into my head was “Well, birds matter because they are birds.”

The article consisted of a series of quotes from a wide range of bird enthusiasts and they covered the gamut on why birds are important. One of my favorites is this quote.

“Birds are the Fed Exes of the natural world. They bring nature to people, wherever we are, sitting on a front porch, hiking a backcountry trail, in a wheelchair sitting by a window. Birds are with us nearly always and as such, so is nature.”

—Jacqui Bonomo, Executive director, and vice president, Audubon Maryland-DC

Birds are beautiful, melodic, and inspiring. They give us a sense of place. Birds are fun to observe especially splashing around in a birdbath and chatting with their neighbors while perching on the rim or a nearby bush.

We, humans, are lucky beneficiaries of the critical and free services that birds perform like controlling insect pests, dispersing seeds, pollinating plants, organic fertilizing, and clearing up carcasses.

Birds deserve our help for no other reason than that they are fellow living creatures sharing a planet with us.

One of the things you can do to benefit birds is to put a birdbath in your yard and keep it clean and filled.

How does a Birdbath Benefit Birds?

Just like people, birds need clean, safe, reliable sources of water for drinking and bathing.

English House Sparrows Perched on Birdbath Rim
These two birds seem to think this simple birdbath is just fine. – Photo Credit iStock/win247

The puddles and other shallow water that birds use for drinking and bathing often dry up during the year so if birds find a consistently filled birdbath in your yard they will keep coming back. In dry and drought-stricken areas, a birdbath can be a life-saving oasis for a bird. When you see a bird splashing around in your birdbath, it may be having fun but it is also doing important feather and wing maintenance.

Although it is easy to keep a birdbath clean and filled with water, it does require a daily commitment.

A Word about Pesticides

The word pesticide is a general term covering a wide variety of poisons designed to kill insects, weeds, rodents, and funguses. These substances can harm and even kill people, animals, and plants.

Inviting birds into your yard with a birdbath means they will be hanging out in your trees and bushes, walking across your lawn (if you have one), and eating seeds and bugs they find while exploring or waiting for their turn at the birdbath. All these activities can expose birds to toxins if they are present in your yard.

Keeping your yard pesticide-free is good for everyone’s health including your kids, pets, and feathered visitors.

Tips for Setting up a Birdbath in Your Yard

When selecting and placing a birdbath, it is important to think like a bird.

American Goldfinch Perched on Birdbath Rim
“Really? This is way too deep. How am I supposed to get a drink or take a bath?” – Photo Credit iStock/Warren Price
Selection

Here are some things to keep in mind while shopping for a birdbath or perusing do-it-yourself ideas.

  • Material – a slightly rough surface helps birds with their footing. Make sure the material is suitable for your climate.
  • Shape – a flat wide basin with a graduated slope and a rim will serve birds of various sizes. Smaller birds can stick to the shallower section near the edge and larger birds can wade further into the middle. A rim gives the birds a place to perch while they are getting a drink or drying off.
  • Pedestal – if an outdoor cat lives at your house or wild animals visit regularly, raising the birdbath basin on a pedestal, stand, or table is important for the birds’ safety.
  • Accessories – automatic refilling pumps, deicers, and ripple creating devices are just a few of the items you can purchase to enhance your birdbath. Keep it simple.
Placement

Like in real estate, placing a birdbath is all about location, location.

  • Out in the Open – place your birdbath in an open area with a 360° view so birds can spot predators and easily escape if necessary.
  • Nearby Cover – select a location with shrubs, trees, or a fence nearby to provide birds with an easy and close place to fly to escape danger or dry off.
  • A Room with a View – for your own enjoyment situate your birdbath so you can see it from a window or sliding glass door. This will also help you remember to refill and clean it.
Maintenance

Maintaining a birdbath takes only a few minutes a day.

  • Clear Out – remove leaves and debris that fall into your birdbath. Sometimes birds bring and leave behind things like peanut shells or twigs. Bird poop is inevitable. An old broom works well for sweeping out water and debris.
  • Refill – keep your birdbath filled with fresh water each day to prevent mosquitoes from using it as a nursery and to keep birds coming back.
  • Clean – scrub your birdbath if it accumulates algae, moss, or a layer of slippery gunk.

Bird Social Media

Making your birdbath a premier destination in your neighborhood will ensure the birds who visit it will give you good reviews via the bird equivalent of social media.

Empty Birdbath Filled with Debris
This empty debris-filled birdbath will get poor reviews from visiting birds. – Photo Credit Shutterstock/Valerie Keyser

This excerpt from Erica Cirino’s Audubon article Why You Should Keep Your Birdbath Clean had me laughing out loud.

Birds don’t have their own version of Airbnb, but if they did, you can imagine the comments they might leave behind.

“The yard was lovely, with lots of seed and a relaxing vibe . . . until the Sharp-shinned Hawk arrived.” Or maybe: “Post advertised a beautiful, glistening birdbath, but when we got there, we found a mosquito-infested swamp bowl instead.”

A birdbath need not be expensive or complicated. The ideal birdbath is the one that consistently attracts birds and that you can easily keep refilled and clean.

Summer is a good time to set up a birdbath because it is hot and/or dry in many areas meaning that birds are looking for consistent water sources. Put a birdbath in your yard this weekend, fill it with water, and soon you will have birds splashing and singing right outside your window.

Featured Image at Top: Eastern Bluebirds Standing in a Birdbath – Photo Credit Shutterstock/Bonnie Taylor Barry

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4th of July – What Does it Mean to be an American?

Heritage unites us. Diversity is our strength.

Sometime during the 4th of July long weekend, take a break from your festivities to reflect on what it means to you to be an American.

I am all for whipping up a batch of your famous potato salad, or competing in a sack race with your kid, or dipping your toes in the ocean to celebrate the 4th of July. I am also for spending a few minutes contemplating what it means to be an American, which entails both rights and responsibilities.

In previous years, for 4th of July posts, I have railed against the American consumer label, suggested we declare our independence from harmful corporations, and proposed the right to a habitable planet as a new addition to the Bill of Rights. This year, I found myself drawn to the Statue of Liberty and thinking about what it means to be an American, today, as a member of a global society.

First, let’s remind ourselves of some of the salient facts about the Statue of Liberty and then contemplate being an American.

Statue of Liberty Brief History

Liberty Enlightening the World Poster 1884
Liberty Enlightening the World Poster, 1884

“The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World” was a gift from the French people to the people of the United States to strengthen ties between the two countries and promote democracy.

Imagine the difficulties the French people had to overcome to finance, build, and then ship the 151’1” tall bronze statue in parts across the ocean in the nineteenth century. The United States encountered its own problems raising money and then constructing the enormous base that supports the 156-ton statue.

Originally, the intent was to unveil the Statue of Liberty in 1876 to commemorate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence but only her torch-bearing arm made it to the U.S. in time. The completed Statue of Liberty was dedicated ten years later on October 28, 1886.

The Statue of Liberty gained federal protections in 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge exercised his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 by designating the statue and its site, called Fort Wood at the time, as a national monument.

During the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the War Department to turn over control of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and the rest of the island, known as Bedloe’s Island, to the National Park Service.

Bedloe’s Island was renamed Liberty Island by an Act of Congress in 1956 and nearby Ellis Island was added to the Statue of Liberty National Monument by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965.

The Statue of Liberty underwent a massive restoration project in the 1980s and she was rededicated on her centennial in 1986.

To this day, people around the world recognize the Statue of Liberty as a symbol, perhaps the symbol, of freedom and democracy.

Statue of Liberty Sonnet

As part of a fundraising effort for the statue’s pedestal in 1883, Emma Lazarus penned the now famous sonnet below. In 1903, her words were inscribed on a plaque and placed on the wall of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This beautiful and powerful poem speaks to the essence of what it means to be an American.

What it Means to be an American

We are all immigrants. Either you are from another land or your ancestors were. If you are a Native American, even your ancestors started out somewhere else, although it was a long, long time ago.

Today, the United States of America is home to a wondrous mix of people all seeking freedom, opportunity, equality, liberty, independence, democracy, and a chance for happiness. This is our heritage. Our diversity is our strength.

The healthiest ecosystems are the ones with a myriad of different species of plants and animals living together. Sometimes they compete with one another and sometimes they cooperate, but somehow they manage to find a balance for the good of the overall community.

It is going to take the kaleidoscope of American people all working together with other people around the world to grapple with global warming and to learn how to live sustainably on Earth. There is no Planet B.

We have our American heritage to guide us, but at the moment, we seem to be out of balance with an excess of competing against one another and not enough cooperating.

I wish I could wave a magic wand that would help Americans remember who we are and what we can accomplish when we work together, but alas, I do not have one. Yet, I am an American and I can do something.

This may sound silly or even ridiculous but I believe our country could use an influx of kindness, especially towards people who have dissimilar opinions, hold different beliefs, or disagree with us. I know that I could be more kind and I want to be. The good news is that neither you nor I need to wait even a moment to be kind to another person.

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” —Amelia Earhart

This 4th of July, let’s celebrate being Americans and make a pledge to never miss an opportunity to be kind. We are the United States of America (the key word being united) so let’s act like it.

Featured Image at Top: Statue of Liberty Holding Torch and Tablet of Law – Photo Credit iStock/EG-Keith

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