It’s more often than not, and applies universally to all creatures (including smarty-pants humans). The path of least resistance will be option #1. Yes, there’s even a fun garden plaque stating such!
When feeding backyard birds and/or squirrels, you’re bound to attract a few less desirable furry friends. The masked marvels (raccoons) are hands-down the most destructive of all. Likely due to their curious nature and smarts- they can manage to disrupt bird feeders, tall bird baths, even hummingbird feeders that hang within reach!
Although hummingbird nectar or sugar water has no scent- it’s the shiny hanging thing that piques curiosity. Once the sweet sticky treat is discovered… they’ll be back for more the next evening. Upon seeing your empty feeder which was just filled the day prior, you may be wondering who ate all that food so fast?
Much the same as when you discover the top of your tall bird bath broken on the ground 🙁
To prevent this from happening again, the birdbath is an easy fix since the critters are simply looking for water.
Place a plant saucer on the ground for wildlife and keep it full of fresh water. It just goes back to that path of least resistance! If they don’t have to climb… why bother?
On our deck at home in Atlanta, mom and babies each took turns playing in this bubbling fountain. Luckily it’s on the ground and fairly indestructible! But the glass hummingbird feeders hanging from the deck… not so much!
Having extra feeders out for busy fall migration (five on the back deck alone), the critters were caught red-handed and in the nick of time! We simply moved one feeder to a garden pole with empty bracket, hung one feeder from the hummingbird swing and bought one feeder inside for the night. A little confusing for the tiny sprites in early morning hours… but now they have the routine down pat! Silly person moves our food back to deck for daytime.
As for the broken bath? Place a shallow pan of water on the ground right next to it, or use a tall bird bath that won’t break! These beauties are ideal for year-round use, accepting a heater in winter and large enough for a fountain or water wiggler in summer.
Lastly, should raccoons or squirrels be destroying your seed feeders… use a baffle! For those who insist baffles don’t work? Wrong- they’re just not installed correctly. feeder placement is most important, here’s another post with more detail on baffles.
You can feed birds without the headache or intrusion of other wildlife by using baffles, placing feeders correctly and offering fresh water at ground level 🙂
Resolve to help birds thrive in freezing weather…
When temperatures are soaring in the midst of summer, it’s pretty obvious to remember water for feathered friends and wildlife. We’re outdoors more often, gardening and relaxing- so filling the birdbath becomes intuitive. But throughout winter months, and especially in freezing weather we tend to prefer the cozy warmth of staying inside. But birds require fresh water regardless of the time of year or temperatures.
Some of the more hard core bird lovers will make the daily trudge through snow and ice to clear, clean and fill feeders (that’s us!). Several heated bird baths around our place remain ice-free (and worry-free) as resident birds are seen daily drinking from them. Although bathing is not as popular in freezing weather… water is critical for drinking!
A popular birding magazine with an expert article mentioned that birds can fend for themselves when it comes to water in winter. Melting ice and snow for example will provide water. BUT during a week-long deep freeze in Atlanta recently, there was zero precipitation (luckily) – which means there was no melting ice and no snow. So… that theory’s not really valid.
Fresh water is so important yet so easy with a heated bird bath or a simple heater added to your existing bath. It’s an oasis for year-round use (just tuck the cord) and they come in several styles like deck-mounted, tall pedestal or heated ground baths. In many cases, a heater will keep your ceramic or cement birdbath from freezing and cracking as well.
Nab a heated bird bath for this winter season. It’s a one-time investment that offers an ongoing, essential element to help wild birds thrive in cold winter months.
Think about it… before humans ever started offering bird baths for feathered friends, they got along just fine with shallow pools of water and puddles.
Freezing temperatures likely created some problems as the shallows froze over, making it more difficult for birds to find water. The concept of eating snow for water seems logical- but if you’re a bird it’s pretty much half baked!
The reason being is that it takes energy to convert the snow to liquid. This energy requires calories and it’s the calories birds spend all day consuming in cold weather. From dawn until dusk, most of the resident backyard birds will be at feeders and foraging for enough calories to make through another night. Calories provide the energy to keep warm, although nature has provided other mechanisms for that too!
You know when puffed up, big fat birds are hanging around feeders and they resemble little fluff balls? Feathers are fluffed as a way to trap heat beneath them close to the birds’ body. It’s one of the main reasons for late summer/fall molt when they shed old and tattered feathers. New feathers are sturdy, sometimes even brighter and more effective at keeping the bird warm.
So by offering shallow open water in winter, you help birds conserve energy. And since ground bathing comes more naturally, heated ground baths absolutely rock for winter! Easy to add a heater to an existing bath, or go for one with concealed heater- meant for year-round use.
Birds will flock to it in frigid weather as the design resembles those natural shallow pools and puddles. It helps create a perfect winter habitat along with feeders and shelter, and once weather warms up, simply tuck the cord underneath the bath!