Providing water for your local birds this summer

It might not feel like it across much of the country, but summer is upon us which means that, particularly on hot days, birds are looking for places to have a quick drink and cool off.

A water source is a simple and important feature that you can quickly add to your property – whether you have an inner city balcony or a farm. Here are some tips to help you provide birds with a safe, clean bird bath or pond. Remember you don't need to limit yourself to just one - put baths and ponds of different shapes and sizes. You will see different birds have different bathing styles. Parrots will throw themselves in and splash around whilst finches might flit in and out very quickly. Watch your bird baths and see how your birds use it. 

  • Keep the water cool. Birds prefer baths that are placed in dappled shade.  

  • Remember birds are using this to drink AND bath in! Replace the water every day or so and clean the bird bath regularly. Scrub and rise with clean water. If your bath is particularly dirty you can use a very dilute (20:1) water to bleach ratio - be sure to rinse very well after this and leave it in the sun to dry. 

  • Think about the birds you want to attract. Big bold birds will be very comfortable out in the middle of the lawn using a pedestal bath, but shyer small natives might like the safety of being closer to shrubs and in a quieter patch of the garden.

  • Place your bird bath so birds can perch nearby to observe the surrounding areas before bathing (so not in the middle of a patch of shrubs) but make sure there are dense shrubs or trees close by that birds can escape to if necessary. 

  • Ensure the bath is beyond the reach of cats - hang it from a tree or use a pedestal bath if cats are around. If you have no cats with access to your yard then even a pot saucer on the ground makes a suitable, cheap and easy bird bath. 

  • If the bath is deep or has a smooth base (such as a glazed pot), place pebbles, a stick or a brick in it so that if a bird falls in it is able to grip on and climb out. 

If you have more space, a pond is an option to consider and will attract a range of other wildlife, especially frogs. Make sure the pond is large enough for birds to drink or bath outside the reach of cats or other threats. Place an old branch in the water or have a large rock as an island, which they can stand on safely while drinking. Design it with different water levels; different bird species use different depths of water and ensure that there is planting around the pond as well as nearby so birds can observe and escape if needed. 

There is nothing wrong with heading to your local nursery and buying a lovely pedestal bath, but with a pot saucer you can make a variety of bird baths quickly and simply

· No cats or other threats in your yard? A simple pot saucer placed on the ground is an instant bird bath!

· Attach the pot saucer to a timber post and concrete it into the ground to make a pedestal bath

· To make a hanging bird bath just fit the saucer into a hanging basket and attach it to a horizontal tree limb

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