One of nature's delights is watching a variety of birds socialize at a water-filled bird bath. Whether their miniature pond is on the ground, suspended on a pole, or sitting on a porch, it offers a welcome respite for thirsty birds and other critters looking for a refreshing drink of water or a bathing splash.
Making a bird bath can be as involved as you would like. You could suspend a dish from a branch or post, mount it on a post or plinth, or build an elaborate series of interlocking pools with a little waterfall for a soothing sound. You could install a small pipe that connects to an indoors sink, so you could fill it with a flick of a finger. Heck, you could set up a Bellagio-style dancing fountain if you had some serious time on your hands.
But creating a bird bath can also be as simple as setting a bowl on the ground and replenishing the dish with fresh water daily. This article describes the simplest approach to building a bird bath—one that takes minimal materials and time, but offers potentially endless entertainment, along with a boost to your local ecology.
Simple Bird Bath Steps
1. Pick a Place - Location is key. To encourage avian attendance, pick an area with plants, flowers, shrubs or other landscaping around it. The shelter will make birds feel safer, so they'll be more likely to enjoy their new water feature. Choosing a spot away from constant sunlight can help prevent evaporation, and stop the water from getting too hot in warmer months.
2. Choose a Bath - Select a sturdy water dish that won't rust, and will securely hold an inch to an inch and a half of fresh water. Most ceramic flowerpot trays will do the trick.
3. Lay a Foundation - If your bird bath is going on uneven ground, you can support it on several bricks or a flat steppingstone to create a level platform.
4. Add Your Bath - Set the ceramic tray in place and add up to an inch and a half of water. This depth will allow even small birds like finches to be safe when drinking or bathing.
5. Weigh It Down - Once the tray is filled, layer the bottom with stones and pebbles, or a single flat stone. The rocks serve as a gauge for the birds to determine the depth of the water. If they think it's too deep, they won't hop in.
Bird Bath Precautions
Watching birds enjoy the splendors of a bird bath as they ruffle their feathers with fresh water is hypnotically entertaining. Providing fresh water to the life that passes through your yard also gives you a satisfying feeling. You're contributing a much needed resource to nature's operation. To make sure you're helping your little visitors as much as possible, follow a few safety guidelines.
Don't let the water stagnate for days on end. Not only will the bird bath go unused, it will become a spot for mosquitoes to breed.
Cleaning the Bird Bath
Dirty water will also invite algae to take up residence. To avoid green-filled bird baths, change the water every other day, more if necessary, and clean the bird bath periodically with a 50/50 solution of water and apple cider vinegar. Thoroughly rinse away the residue after each wash.
Bird bath Safety
Remember there are a variety of animals and wildlife constantly on the prowl for for food and water. This means a bird bath can supply both if it's not protected. If you have other animals visiting your yard such as raccoons, cats, or birds of pray, protect your bird bath and its visitors by providing cover with bushes and/or brush piles, and adding alternate water sources around your yard.