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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You Can Increase Your Home’s Value with Owned Solar Panels

Join the rooftop solar revolution!

Make an investment in your home and a clean renewable energy future for your children by installing rooftop solar panels, now.

If you are a homeowner, there is no better time to join the rooftop solar revolution and begin generating your own power. Besides helping to build the country’s clean renewable energy infrastructure, you will be increasing your home’s value.

Below are five reasons to consider joining the ranks of homeowners who have purchased a rooftop solar power system.

Home Sales Price Premium for Owned Solar Panels

Owned solar power systems can increase the value of your home and give you an edge over non-solar home sellers in your area.

Home rooftop solar panels are a relatively new home selling feature that will likely gain in importance as electricity prices continue rising and people become more concerned about getting their power from clean renewable sources. Fortunately, the real estate industry is embracing rooftop solar, incorporating it as part of the selling and buying process.

A November 2015 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study shows that energy efficiency-minded homebuyers are willing to pay a premium for homes that have owned solar power systems, even up to the cost of the system (less any rebates and tax incentives).1

The California Regional Multiple Listing Service, the largest in the country, added power production fields in January 2017 so now realtors can enter solar power system information for their listings in a standardized format.2, 3 Other multiple listing services will likely follow California’s example.

Now visualize yourself as a home seller who had the foresight to purchase and install solar panels on your rooftop.

First of all, a rooftop solar power system is a long-term investment that you benefit from as long as you own your home. For warranty purposes, the lifespan of most rooftop solar equipment is considered to be 20-30 years; however, at that point, although solar panels may be less efficient they do not stop working.

Second, depending on how soon you put your house on the market after purchasing your system, it may have already paid for itself.

Lastly, savvy potential homebuyers will realize the benefit of buying a home that already has an operational rooftop solar power system and they may be willing to pay you a premium for the ability to generate free electricity from the day they move in, especially in a sunny and hot climate. If you replaced an aging roof before installing solar panels, even better.

Federal Renewable Energy Tax Incentive

Homeowners considering purchasing solar panels rejoice. The legalese buried on page 2,005 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 4 can save you a pile of money via a 30% tax credit for your rooftop solar purchase.

Here is the gist of the tax credit. When Congress passed the far-reaching Energy Policy Act of 2005, it included a tax credit provision to encourage both business and residential renewable energy projects. Originally, the tax credit was set to expire at the end of 2007, but Congress has approved a series of extensions that pushed the end date back to December 31, 2021.

Here are some of the specifics related to the solar tax credit from the DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy) website.

  • 30% for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019.
  • 26% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2019 and before 01/01/2021.
  • 22% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2020 and before 01/01/2022.
  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2021.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.

For example, if you purchase, install, and begin operating a solar power system costing $15,000 by December 31, 2019, you will be eligible for a 30% tax credit of $4,500. Depending on your tax situation, you could end up with a refund equal to part or all or your tax credit.

Rising Utility Electricity Rates

Have your electric rates ever actually gone down? I suppose it is possible, but it seems unlikely.

U.S. Residential Electricity Average Price Per Kilowatt-Hour - EIA June 2017

The U.S. Energy Information Administration seems to think that residential electricity prices will continue to rise. Data on their website shows that the average cost for a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of residential electricity increased by 53% from 8.0 cents to 12.22 cents between January 2003 and January 2017, and the agency is forecasting a kWh will reach 13.48 cents in 2018.5

Electric prices vary hugely by state and utility provider so your rates may be lower or higher than the U.S. average. For instance, where I live on the Central California Coast, we passed the 13.48 cents mark in 2006 and have now reached 23.0 cents in 2017.6

To put things in perspective, the California Public Utilities Commission reports that from 2012 to 2016 average electricity rates increased at an annual average of approximately 3.4%, which is well above the average inflation rate of 1.3% over the same time period.7

Low Solar Panel Prices

Through technological advances and competition, solar panel prices have come down over 50% since 2009.8 In fact, there is a global oversupply problem now, which is keeping prices low.

Support Your Local Economy

A 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report shows that 374,000 Americans are working full or part time in the solar industry, a workforce increase of 25% in 2016. American veterans hold 9% of the 260,077 full-time solar jobs.9

Many of the jobs in the solar industry are performed by women and men working for solar installation companies in your community. They might even be your neighbors. Solar companies employ people working in the field delivering and installing solar panels as well as people in sales, marketing, system design, project management, accounting, customer service, and leadership positions.

Homeowners We Have a Choice

Either we can stand on the sidelines watching as fossil fuel extraction and pollution-belching power plants destroy more land and contaminate more neighborhoods or we can do something about it by generating our own clean renewable energy and sharing it with the interconnected electric grids in our communities.

Group of Kids Playing at a Park

There is no better time than right now to go solar! Purchasing solar panels for your home is a sound financial investment and even more importantly, it pushes the ball forward in creating a clean renewable future for all our children.

We joined the rooftop solar revolution in 2013 and you can, too.

For homeowners interested in the pros and cons of leasing solar panels versus buying them, there are some articles in the resources section below.

If you have a rooftop solar success story you would like to share with other readers, please use the comment section below.

Featured Image at Top: Rooftop Solar Panels on the Home of the Unlikely Environmentalist – Danny from A.M. Sun Solar Finishing the Installation

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References

  1. Appraising Into The Sun: Six-State Solar Home Paired-Sale Analysis, by Sandra Adomatis and Ben Hoen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 11/12/15
  2. EERE Success Story—Real Estate Professionals Embrace Solar Power, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, 06/09/17
  3. Matrix Updates January 31, 2017, California Regional Multiple Listing Service
  4. Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, United States Congress, 12/14/15
  5. Short-Term Energy Outlook, U.S. Energy Information Administration, 06/06/17
  6. PG&E Residential Rates Effective March 1, 2017
  7. California Electric and Gas Utility Cost Report, California Public Utilities Commission, April 2017
  8. NREL Report Shows U.S. Solar Photovoltaic Costs Continuing to Fall in 2016, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 09/28/16
  9. U.S. Energy and Employment Report and the Annual Energy Outlook 2017 with projections to 2050, U.S. Department of Energy, January 2017

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