When summer really heats up, there is nothing more refreshing than drinking a tall glass of ice water, taking a quick dip in the pool, or running through the backyard sprinkler with the kids. But what many people do not realize is clean, fresh water is as important to birds and other wildlife as it is for humans. Not only that, but birds actually enjoy splashing around and frolicking in the water just like we do.
With this in mind, create an inviting habitat for feathered friends right in your backyard or on your patio or balcony. It is easier than it seems, and there is no need for a big backyard to do it. Just providing the basic elements birds enjoy will establish your setting as a wildlife habitat. Water is one of the important resources birds need, along with food, shelter and a place to nest or raise young. For a quick and easy bird-friendly habitat, simply put out a bird feeder, hang a bird house, provide some nesting materials, and set up a watering place to drink and splash.
“Water is one of the most frequently overlooked resources we can add to our backyard to attract more birds and other wildlife,” says John Robinson, chief ornithologist at Scotts. “Every year, I am astonished by the new species that appear in backyards when owners are willing to share this simple yet critical resource with their feathered friends.”
Providing a source of water need not be a big endeavor. Water can be provided using a mister, slow drip, saucer, bird bath or pond. Below are some simple ways to incorporate water into your backyard.
Bird baths and saucers
Water in a saucer or bird bath will quickly and easily give area birds the water they need, even when placed on a balcony or patio. Stones with depressions that collect water will also help attract small birds and butterflies. Keep in mind you may need to change the water and clean the bird bath every few days to keep it fresh. In hot weather, it may even be necessary to refill the container every day.
A great way to attract birds and other creatures to the backyard is to add a water drip feature to the bird bath. Because of birds’ heightened senses of hearing and sight, drippers are inviting. Create a drip feature by hanging a bucket or plastic milk jug with a tiny hole over the bird bath so water drips down into the bath slowly throughout the day. Or, hook up a garden hose to a specially designed drip tube you can purchase at local hardware stores or garden centers.
Another water feature gardeners often employ is a mister. A mister hooks to a garden hose and sprays a gentle mist over a garden or bird bath. Humans enjoy being cooled off by misters at amusement parks, and plants enjoy the refreshing spray of moisture, too. Birds enjoy frequenting misters to cool down and pollinators, like butterflies and bees, enjoy areas being misted because of the tiny water droplets the mist leaves on flowers. Misters can generally be found at local hardware store and garden centers.
Whether large and elaborate or small and quaint, a backyard pond is guaranteed to attract birds and other wildlife. Most ponds found in urban or rural backyards are on the small side, most no larger than 3 to 4 feet in diameter. Ponds with a fountain are best because the sight and sound of splashing water will attract visitors, and moving water is less likely to become a breeding ground for mosquitoes or other insects. The addition of logs, rocks and other in-water structures provide a drinking and basking habitat for songbirds, as well as other wildlife such as turtles and butterflies. Aquatic snails or tadpoles are fun and natural ways to limit the growth of algae in the pond, and add an interesting element for kids to watch and enjoy.
This summer, when planning the water fun for the kids, don’t forget the birds. Water is very effective in drawing birds and wildlife to your backyard and is also a relaxing, scenic addition that can provide interest and enjoyment for the whole family. With the addition of a simple water source, you never know who may stop by your backyard habitat for a quick swim or a refreshing drink.