Water is Vital to Survival of Backyard Birds
Water is vital for wild birds all year round. Cold weather in northern climates brings a special challenge to survival because natural water sources are often frozen. Providing ice-free water for drinking and feather maintenance can be life-saving for birds. Water sources may be kept ice-free by an immersible electric heater that goes right into the birdbath water. Baths with built in heating are also available. Almost all birdbath heating systems are thermostatically controlled so as not to overheat, or underheat.
Here are some of Duncraft's tips for providing water all year round:
To accustom your birds to a new bath, try placing a bird feeder within five feet of the bath. Birds will notice the water in the bath as they go to the feeder.
It's optimal to locate the bath within six feet of a tree or tall shrub to give birds a place to fly to if a threat -- let's say, the neighbor's cat -- disturbs them while bathing or drinking.
Be sure your bath is not too deep -- the deepest point should be 2-1/2" or less. It's best if the edge of the bath is not slippery so that birds can have sure footing.
Bird baths can be on a pedestal, hanging, laid flat on the ground or attached, for example, to a deck rail
Bath water should be changed every few days, no matter what the season, to insure a fresh, clear supply.
It is important to keep your bath clean. We recommend washing the bath with water and white vinegar. The vinegar will help prevent algae growth and keep the bath fresh. Bath brushes and special bath and fountain protection solutions are available to help keep baths sparkling clean and safe for birds.
Moving water fascinates and attracts birds. We recommend outfitting your bath with a dripper or mister. In warm weather a mister will be attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies too!
Colored aquarium gravel, or marble chips, available in pet or garden centers, can be attractive in a bath and help birds get a footing.
In summer, locate your bath in a shady part of your yard. This will keep the water at a cooler, more refreshing temperature in hot weather. In winter, a sunny location will help an electric heater keep the water ice-free.
Heated Birdbath from Duncraft
This is one of our very favorite heated baths! This well-designed bath allows you to mount it directly to your deck railing. When winter arrives, plug the bath in and the heater turns on to keep water ice-free to -20°F. The heater, with its automatic thermostat, is hidden under the bowl, so there is no need to remove it in warmer weather. Basin is 20" diameter.
Not only do birds need water to quench their thirst, but also to groom their feathers and keep them in flying condition. Birds constantly tend to their feathers, which must be kept clean and healthy to insure proper insulation and mobility.
Providing water is the very best way to attract birds to your yard. Yes, birds are more attracted to water in your yard than by food! In addition, water brings out many interesting behaviors to watch -- you will see birds sipping, seriously grooming their feathers -- and splashing and playing.