Backyard Chirper

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Tips for using water to attract more birds to your yard

There are three essential things that will attract birds to your yard: food, shelter and water. Everyone knows about bird feeders and birdhouses, but somehow the water element usually gets lost in the mix.

Water is a key asset to have in your yard because it will attract all types of birds, even those that never eat from feeders. Even though all birds need water to drink, they also use it to preen their feathers and remove dirt from their plumage. If you’re trying to lure the most birds into your yard, here are some ways to do it with water.

Birdbaths

Few things are more appealing to birds than a nice, fresh birdbath. One of the great aspects of birdbaths is that they are simple to set up and easy to maintain. Birdbaths come a variety of styles, including pedestals, fountains and dishes. The ideal birdbath mimics nature as much as possible, so you want to get something that’s fairly shallow and not very slippery. During the harsh winter months when water becomes scarce because it’s all frozen, a heated birdbath is a fantastic asset. Keeping fresh water available year-round makes birdbaths a great option.

Misters

Misting devices are a surprising yet highly effective way to attract various birds to your yard, especially hummingbirds. Misters easily attach to one side of your birdbath and spray a mist of water onto passing birds. One of the positives of the feather mister is that you could have certain birds enjoying the calmness of a regular birdbath one side while birds fly into the mist on the other side.

Ponds and Streams

Although getting a pond or stream, either naturally or artificially, set up in your yard is much more difficult than putting up a birdbath, the advantages are far better. Birds are much more drawn to environments that appear naturally, so you’re more likely to attract various types of species. You can also buy bird ponds that attract birds as well.

Most importantly when you’re using water as a source for birds, it’s essential to clean the water as often as every day or two. Here’s more from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on cleaning bird feeders:

But to provide a safe drinking and bathing environment, it’s critical to change the water every day or two. Bathing birds may leave behind dirty feathers and droppings, making the bath increasingly unsanitary for other birds. Grackles often drop their nestlings’ fecal sacs into birdbaths, another cause of filthy water. Algae grows much more quickly when the water isn’t cleaned frequently. Also, the species of mosquitoes most likely to transmit West Nile virus often lay their eggs in bird baths. By frequently changing the water, we don’t give the eggs time to hatch or for the larvae to emerge.

By adding some water to your yard, you’ll attract more feathered friends than ever!

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.