Integrating a bird bath into your yard is one of the easiest ways to attract local birds. Our feathered friends are constantly in search of fresh water, both for drinking and keeping feathers clean. Properly maintained bird baths will be a constant source of entertainment, as you watch birds play, preen and perch.
Choosing the right bird bath
The first questions to ask yourself are based on the size of your yard and the goals you have set for which type of bird you want to attract. For instance, a large water feature–like an artificial pond–might be great if you have a lot of space and the resources to hire some help. Conversely, a small table-top bird bath might be just the thing for cramped yards.
Think about these questions before integrating a bird bath into your yard:
- How much space do I have? Smaller bird baths are easy to clean and often fairly portable. Larger ones will attract more birds at one time, but are often cumbersome to maintain. Think about how much of your yard space you want to give up to water features before purchasing.
- What is the theme of my garden space? A big stone fountain might integrate perfectly with a Victorian-style garden full of roses and carefully trimmed bushes. However, many modern bird baths are designed with sleek lines are to sit on a table top, to accommodate more minimalist spaces. Keep in mind your decor preferences, and you’re more likely to want to do the maintenance work necessary to keep your bird bath functional.
- Is my water feature truly bird friendly? Just because man-made water source is available, doesn’t mean birds will be automatically attracted to it. Just like birdhouses and feeders are all designed differently to accommodate different species, so too are bird baths. A few general rules are important to keep in mind: thin lips on the bowl will help birds grip the edge; bird baths for smaller songbirds should be no more than two inches deep; the lip should have some texture to it, to keep it from being slippery.
- How easy is it to clean? The heavier and more ornate your bird bath, the harder it will be to clean. Be realistic with yourself about how much time you’re willing to put in keeping up with the maintenance.
- What will be my biggest weather challenge? If you live in a warm area, shallow bird baths might evaporate daily and require constant refilling. If you live where it freezes much of the year, you’ll need a heating feature. Keep in mind what special circumstances the climate of your region will cause, that way you can prevent the problem before it happens.
- What is my budget? Bird baths come in a wide variety of price ranges–from the humble plastic tub filled with just a bit of water from the hose, too elaborate hand-carved fountains, requiring gallons and gallons of constantly running water. Think about your budget for your garden space and what percentage of it you would like to commit to the upfront purchase and installation of the bird bath. Then, consider how much you’re willing to spend monthly for maintaining it (such as on additional water usage or electricity for the heater).
- Do I want to provide more than one type of bird bath? Especially if your yard is large, it may be best to provide a few different varieties of bird baths in the garden. That way you’ll attract a wide variety of different birds, based on their own needs.
By considering these questions before integrating a bird bath into your yard, you’ll save yourself frustration and attract more birds. You’ll spend less time on bird related chores and more time relaxing while watching your feathered friends flock to your yard!