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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Trump Administration is Threatening Our National Monuments

Take action to protect our National Monuments!

The Trump administration is attacking our national monuments and seems hell bent on destroying some of these special places in the name of energy independence.

“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.” —Theodore Roosevelt

The United States federal government has a duty to protect and preserve our national monuments for the benefit of all Americans, present, and future. However, President Trump recently issued an Executive Order aimed at opening up some of our national monuments for oil and gas exploration and mining, thus demonstrating that he is unequal to the task of safeguarding America’s heritage.

So what is at stake?

What is a National Monument?

The term national monument seems confusing to me. When I think about the word monument, it brings to mind structures and statues. Although some do involve structures and statues, national monuments also encompass historic, scientific, archaeological, commemorative, and cultural objects and values of sites on federal land. National monuments can also be small and large parcels of land with unique and special features and even water bodies.

An important distinction is that the Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the President of the United States the authority to designate a national monument by issuing a presidential proclamation without requiring an act of Congress. The purpose of giving the president this authority is to enable him or her to protect and preserve landmarks, structures, objects, artifacts, and land that are important to America’s heritage and culture, especially those in danger of befalling harm, theft, or destruction.

The president does not unilaterally decide which locations or objects to designate as national monuments. The process involves gathering input from the public, businesses, community organizations, nonprofits, and local, state, and federal government agencies. The justification for establishing a national monument is outlined in the presidential proclamation designating it.

Historically, presidents have enlarged and occasionally diminished some national monuments designated by their predecessors. No president has ever overturned a national monument designation made by a predecessor. In some cases, national monuments have become national parks or national historic places via acts of Congress.

To date, there have been 157 national monuments designated by 16 presidents, beginning with President Theodore Roosevelt, a staunch conservationist who spearheaded the Antiquities Act and signed it into law on June 8, 1906.

Why are National Monuments Important?

National monuments are sites that have been set aside to protect and preserve our heritage, history, and culture. They are important places for learning, exploration, and fun. Let’s look a few national monuments and imagine the United States without them.

Below are some examples that will give you an idea our national monument diversity.

  • Statue of Liberty (NY)
  • Fort Sumter (SC)
  • Grand Canyon (AZ)
  • Craters of the Moon (ID)
  • George Washington Birthplace (VA)
  • Mt. St. Helens (WA)
  • Rainbow Bridge (UT)
  • Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad (MD)
  • Devils Tower (WY)
  • Muir Woods (CA)

The above national monuments are not currently on the chopping block, so let’s look at the ones that are.

National Monuments that are Under Review

President Trump’s executive order directs the Department of the Interior to review all national monuments designated since January 1, 1996, by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama and determine if they should be reduced or even abolished to enhance American energy independence.

The Department of the Interior has a list on their website, which includes 22 terrestrial and 5 marine national monuments: Arizona (4), California (6), Colorado (1), Idaho (1), Nevada (2), New Mexico (2), Maine (1), Montana (1), Oregon (1), Utah (2), Washington (1), Atlantic Ocean (1) and Pacific Ocean (4).

“It is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Six of the national monuments are in my home state of California and one is almost in my backyard.

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Interestingly, the threatened Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo County, CA, near where I live, has two huge solar farms as neighbors that generate enough electricity to power 260,000 homes (the total population of the County is 279,000).

People come from all over to visit the Carrizo Plain National Monument to view spectacular wildflowers in the spring, explore its unique geology, enjoy native flora and fauna, study ecosystems, and learn about the cultural heritage of the area.

The San Andreas Fault runs through the Carrizo Plain so environmental degradation aside, it does not seem too smart to add more fossil fuel extraction sites in and around the region. Building more roads and infrastructure in this rural area would cause a massive disruption to the people who live, farm, and ranch in the area and to the wildlife, which inhabits it.

The Carrizo Plain area is already contributing to national energy independence and the national monument is preserving the largest native grassland in California as well as several endangered species of animals and plants and cultural artifacts.

As far as I am concerned, to change the status or boundaries of the Carrizo Plain National Monument to allow energy speculation does not make sense from a business perspective and would be an environmental and social travesty.

Call to Action

I hope that like me you feel national monuments are an important part of America’s heritage and worth protecting.

Here are some ways you can help.

Public Comment

Make a public comment at www.regulations.gov. Enter docket DOI-2017-0002 into the search window on the site and click the “Comment Now!” button on the right. Alternately, mail your comment to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240.

Important Dates: Written comments relating to the Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted before May 26, 2017, and written comments relating to all other National Monuments must be submitted before July 10, 2017.

Contact Elected Officials

Call, email, or write your elected officials and ask them to stand up for our national monuments.

Letter to the Editor

Write a letter to the editor or a viewpoint piece about why national monuments are important to you or tell a personal story about a specific national monument that is under review.

Social Media

Post national monument photos and comments on social media encouraging people to make a public comment.

Talk to People

Talk to your family, friends, and coworkers about this issue and ask them to get involved, too.

Thank you for taking action to protect our national monuments.

“Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Featured Image at Top: Wildflowers Bloom at Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo County, CA in April 2017 – Photo by Bob Wick, BLM

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