The Deal with Stones in Your Birdbath
You hear it all the time… or maybe not? Adding a large rock or stones to your birdbath helps birds. It’s absolutely true, especially for juveniles venturing out into the world after springs’ nesting season.
Shallow, shallow, shallow is best, with a maximum depth of 2-3 inches. If your bowl is deeper – just don’t fill it all the way. While adult birds tend to maneuver with more agility, babies can easily drown in your birdbath if the water is too deep.
A recent post on this topic (on a social network) was shared far and wide because it was a good story. The person saw the bathing bird in distress, and slowly walked over with a stick, but the bird didn’t fly away – it remained in the bath struggling. When she gently extended the stick over the bath, the bird hopped right on it. After placing the stick to the ground, the bird hopped off… but could not fly. She immediately thought of a wildlife re-habber and called, but the bird eventually took flight.
Drowning indeed he was, the water being too deep, with the sides of the bath too tall and steep for escape. The little guy was lucky someone was watching! Wet feathers can’t fly, this is why he hopped under the brush instead of flying to a nearby branch. It illustrates exactly why folks are always saying to put rocks or stones in your birdbath.
Baths with a gentle slope or walk-in sides are easiest on birds because they imitate shallow pools or puddles found in nature. Texture is always helpful too, as it allows tiny feet the ability to grip.
The stones can be anything from colorful decorative ones, to a large natural rock, river rock, lava rock, or simply stones from the garden. Anything that allows birds to “hop up onto” will be used and appreciated by feathered friends. For better footing, landing and perching spots… and maybe even to save a life!
The Unintentional Bird Bath
Last winter a water problem was discovered in the crawlspace. Ground water was coming up pretty high and slowly rotting out the support beams. First thought to be a lack of ventilation – but it turns out this had been a longstanding problem.
Over the summer a sump pit was dug, a pump and float switch added, and drain hose was run outside, across the side yard. A simple outlet was created with gravel. It pumped all winter long, even during snowy weather, and is pumping right now. The water pools around the gravel and ultimately sinks into the ground.
Flocks of resident birds gathered there all winter, particularly during really cold weather. While this is near the bird feeders, there were many birds (like robins) who don’t typically use them. Every time the pump ran, birds would swoop down and take a dip, or drink, and otherwise frolic in the temporary pond. Leaning towards burying a bird bath or some kind of large shallow form near there for summer so the water will be able to pool longer.
This is clean, filtered ground water, it flows so it doesn’t freeze, and will be cooler in summer months. The best thing… it’s going to good use for the birds!
Add a Birdbath for Wildlife Friendly Habitat
Our North Georgia yard is always fluttering with avian activity. Probably due to the many bird feeders and birdhouses, but positively because of the birdbaths and water features. For the last 30 days or so I think it has rained only once. Pastures and lawns are parched, and flowers that usually thrive well into fall have seen better days.
Two pedestal baths each have their own gizmo so there’s always moving water. One has a dripper, the other a water wiggler. Since this water always moves, it is a major attractor for birds, it works like a visual magnet! It’s also good to know that mosquitoes can not lay their eggs in these birdbaths.
This ground birdbath with an attached dripper has got to be by far the most popular spot. Of course everyone took off when I went to take the picture. There’s also a leaf mister staked in the ground nearby, which shares the same water connection via a T-connector in the rubber tubing. Butterflies, hummingbirds and most of the regulars frequent this spot daily. Some birds even crowd around to wait their turn for a dip in this great birdbath!
The landscaping helps too, lush and mature trees, shrubs and flowers, with perennials for butterflies like lantana, milkweed, and butterfly bush. A shepherd’s hook with three bird feeders is also close to this water feature. I guess if I were a bird, it would be a pretty decent spot to hang around!