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How to select and care for a birdbath

Keep the wonder of nature alive by attracting birds to your back yard for a sip and a bath

Birds love to preen. When their feathers get dirty, they seek out water to thrash around in to remove the grime. They also get thirsty and need a stopover for a quick refresher.

If you love to bird watch and don't have a back yard pond, then a birdbath is the perfect attraction. You'll not only get the seed-lovers that normally flock around feeders, but you'll also attract those bird species that feast on insects and other wild goodies.

A birdbath should be enticing to look at from a human vantage point, but it should also be practical and secure for the birds. A little forehand knowledge about bird habits and preferences will help you pick out the best bath.

First, you must consider bird safety. Place any birdbath well away from low-lying shrubs and plants. Cats like to stalk, and they are known to hide in vegetation while waiting to leap on their prey. Wet feathers slow down a bird's flight; having a clear view of their surroundings will keep them safer. Birds can, even with damp feathers, fly upward and seek protection in leaves. If possible, place the birdbath in a shaded area with drooping tree branches (no cat-friendly limbs).

The bowl should be very shallow - never more than three inches deep. If you already have a bath with a bowl deeper than that, add several rocks - sized to sit just below the water level - to give the birds a place to perch and keep them from doing a deep-sea dive.

Birds do not like slippery surfaces. Most experts recommend concrete for this reason. If your birdbath is made of slippery material, try roughing up the surface. You can also add non-slip rubber grips across the bowl.

Keep your birdbath clean at all times. We recommend a good scrubbing once a week. If your bath is close to a water source, it will be much easier to care for.

A drip unit creates enough of a babbling brook noise to be irresistible for bird,. especially hummingbirds, which tend to bathe on the fly. You and your family will get a treat out of watching a hummer flit through the drips.

With so many choices on the market, you'll be sure find a birdbath to fit your budget and make the birds happy as well.



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