Bird feeders are a fantastic way to bring birds to your yard, but if youre looking to attract the widest array of species, birdbaths are the only way to go. Not only do birdbaths add an element of beauty to your property but they also offer something all birds need to survive: water. Throughout this article well look at every aspect of birdbaths, including the different designs, accessories and reasons why you should have one.
Benefits of Birdbaths
Thinking about getting a birdbath but arent entirely convinced you need one? Here are five compelling reasons why you need one.
Birdbaths attract a wide variety of species
Whereas bird feeders only attract specific types of birds (for example, a tube feeder will only appeal to seed-eating birds), birdbaths appeal to early every bird species, including some that may not normally visit your backyard. Even just a little bit of clean water on your property can go a long way in attracting different species.
Water is vital for birds
When an unexpected snowstorm blows through your area or record-breaking heat waves linger for far too long, water becomes increasingly scarce. In the winter, ice makes it more difficult for birds to find drinking water and in summer, birds need more water to help cool themselves off. A birdbath can make life easier for birds, especially when they have countless other things to worry about.
Birdbaths can attract beneficial insects
The idea of attracting insects as well as birds may not sound so alluring, but many insects are extremely beneficial to gardens. Wasps, for example, kill pests like cabbage worms that may harm garden crops.
They spruce up your yard
Bird feeders can be decorative, especially if you pick up one from Home Bazaar, but birdbaths are inherently decorative. The various designs and styles allow birdbaths to perfectly accentuate the personality of any yard. Birdbaths can easily serve as both a water source for birds and a decorative piece of art. If you go a different route and add a pond to your backyard, it can actually raise your homes value too.
Certain birdbaths add soothing water sounds
Depending on the type of birdbath, it may also inject the soothing sound of running water to your yard. Water sounds have been found to reduce stress and anxiety in certain people. Even if you have a still birdbath, there are accessories you can get to make the water move and make sounds (something you can learn more about in the accessories section below).
Why Birds Need Water
Theres really only one reason why birds would visit a bird feeder – to eat food. But there are two major reasons why a bird might frequent a birdbath.
The first reason is the most obvious. Like all animals, birds need to drink water to survive. Although birds typically drink less water than other animals, due to a lack of sweat glands, they still lose water in their secretions and breathing. Youll notice that birds drink different amounts. For example, small birds will drink at least twice a day while insectivores will drink less. Hummingbirds dont need to drink much at all because they get their water from nectar.
Most birds drink by dipping their head into the water before throwing it back and allowing the water to drip into their throat. Other birds, like doves, can simply dip their beaks into the water and sip it up.
After storms, youll often find birds frolicking in puddles, and while Im sure they like to play in the water on a hot day, theyre actually bathing and preening their feathers. They do this for a number of reasons, such as realigning their feathers for more efficient flight, removing parasites, and fluffing up their appearance for mates.
Types of Birdbath Designs
Like bird feeders, birdbaths come in a variety of designs with each better suited for different species and setups. Heres a closer look at the seven most common birdbath styles.
The ground birdbath is one of the most basic types because its basically just a bowl that rests on the floor. These, of course, come in different styles as well, including those that are dug into the ground and those that rest on top of it. Depending on the size, ground birdbaths can even attract larger water birds like ducks.
A pond birdbath has a more natural feel because its built directly into the landscape. The benefit of a pond birdbath is that it can typically accommodate larger birds and blends into your yard better. These tend to require more installation, but a pond birdbath like the popular Winged Aquatics Bird Pond with Three-Tier Cascade can be set up pretty easily over a weekend. If you want a more long-term investment in the pond, you can also have a landscaper install one as a permanent fixture.
A deck birdbath is bowl-shaped and usually has a contraption to affix it to the railing of a deck. These are great for backyards with limited amounts of space because they can be placed out of the way. Deck birdbathsand attract small to medium-sized species.
When you think of a pedestal birdbath, think of a deck birdbath thats placed on top of a stand, so its not surprising that the two attract similar species. Many manufacturers sell just the pedestal for your existing birdbath.
The distinguishing feature that sets pedestal and fountain birdbaths apart is movement. While you can add movement to a pedestal birdbath, a fountain typically has a built-in water feature, like water shooting up from internal plumbing. The designs of fountain birdbaths vary significantly.
When space is limited, a hanging birdbath offers a great option for providing water. These tend to be a little less stable and windy days can cause some spillage, but hanging birdbaths are very flexible with where you place them.
Even though heated birdbaths are more of a feature than anything else, they are typically in their own category. A heated birdbath can take the form of any of the aforementioned styles with the addition of a built-in heater.
Finally, a birdbath by itself is not always complete. You can accessorize your birdbath to make it more appealing to birds with some of the following products.
When the weather gets cold, water becomes a scarcity because it freezes, which is why having it available is essential. A de-icer prevents your birdbath from freezing in sub-zero temperatures.
A dripper does exactly what its name implies: drips. It often looks like a spout that drips a drop of water into the birdbath every now and then. Not only does the sound of dripping water attract birds but the ripple itself helps keep the water fresher by discouraging mold and preventing mosquitoes from laying eggs.
Adding a mister to your birdbath is very attractive to birds because they love the noise. Hummingbirds in particular enjoy misters. Some drippers even come with a mister option, like the Birds Choice Avian Mister & Dripper, so you only have to buy one item.
Rocks arent so much an accessory as a necessity for certain birdbaths. If a birdbath is too deep and youre noticing birds aren’t using it, adding rocks with help make the depth more ideal while providing a natural place for birds to stand. Read our blog post on ideal birdbath depth to learn more.
The Water Wiggler is a trademarked product from Allied Precision that creates ripples in the water. This makes the water more visible to passing birds and prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water. The upside to a Water Wiggler, as opposed to a mister or dripper, is that it doesnt require additional plumbing.