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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 7 Things You Can Do to Benefit and Protect Birds
- Bird and Bird Habitat Conservation Legislation
- Bird Day – Celebrate All Year
- Eco-Friendly and Ethical Chocolate – Birds and Trees
- Eco-Friendly and Ethical Coffee
- Everyone is an Environmentalist
- Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy – Book Review
- Silent Spring – Book Review
- Bird Bath, Wikipedia
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- National Audubon Society
- Providing Water for Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2009
- Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
- Splish, Splash: Why Do Birds Take Baths?, by Joe Smith, Cool Green Science, 03/09/15
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program