But what about out little bird friends? To see them enjoying a refreshing bath leaves you in no doubt that they absolutely love it. They sing and flap around, getting rid of the grime of the day – it’s a joy to behold. It’s one of the few times we can step inside their minds, as we can so easily relate to their pleasure – it’s just the same as we feel when we have a good shower.
These days, most standing water is unsafe, contaminated by industrial or urban pollution. It’s becoming harder for the native birds to find water enough to drink, let alone bathe in, and this is where we come in.
We can provide this resource, and in the process reap the benefits of a garden full of gorgeous birds. There are quite a few quite practical reasons to encourage birds to visit your garden, and I will list some of them for you.
Firstly, they are beautiful. Birdsong can’t fail to make you happy, and appreciating the sheer variety of forms and colors of the singers will keep you spellbound. If you have young children, bird watching can be a wonderful introduction to animals, and biology in general.
Secondly, they fill an important niche in the food chain of your garden, and that is eating bugs – aphids, spiders, mosquitoes, and many others. Depending on which bird species you have visiting you, many pests can be controlled without using any chemicals at all.
Another huge benefit of attracting birds is that of pollination. To our great misfortune, overuse of pesticides has devastated the world’s native bee populations. As bees are generally the main pollinators in nature, some farmers are having to turn to artificial methods of pollination to ensure the success of their crops.
Birds can fill this need nicely. Do a little research on the plants you have, find a suitable bird pollinator, and then invite that species to come. You can offer food and shelter tailored to them, and then sit back and let them do the work for you.
They can also weed for you! Weeding has to be one of the most tiresome garden chores, and birds will happily do it free of charge. The great majority of birds eat some form of seed or another, and each one they eat is one less weed for you to deal with.
In my opinion, one of the most important reason to encourage birds is that of nature conservation. Too many species of birds are doing it tough due to housing and agriculture encroaching on their habitat. We can provide much needed relief by providing a haven for them in the middle of it all. The value of massed individual efforts to support vanishing species’ cannot be overestimated. And, really, we owe it to them.
“…and gliding rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!”
There is no doubt that the beauty of a well kept garden will substantially increase the value of the property it occupies, as well as the value of the whole street in general. This should never be overlooked by the savvy homeowner; it can translate to many more dollars in your pocket in the long run.
The garden, outdoors, and specifically birdsong has been found to decrease stress levels, increase levels of vitamin D, and provide excellent low impact exercise. So for those of us not fortunate enough to own our own homes, there are still overwhelming reasons to encourage our little winged visitors.
So, how do you do it? What enticements can you use to draw them in, and encourage them to stay? The primary things any creature needs are food, water and shelter, and birds are no different. Provide one or more of these, and they will more than likely stay in your garden, and provide you with years of service and delight.
Firstly, food. There are a few ways you can do this. Buying the appropriate seed, and placing feeders around your house and garden is the obvious choice. However, you can also undertake plantings that encourage the species you want, or just birds in general. There are many attractive plants and grasses that would fulfill this purpose, and your local garden supplier or landscaper will be aware of the local bird populations, and can help you choose plants that will be appropriate for your situation.
A third option is to encourage the species that the birds feed on. Not spraying moths and their caterpillar forms will greatly encourage birds that prey on them. Some insecticides do great harm to native bird populations, so it’s always better to avoid these as much as you can. Build a worm farm and you will encourage ground feeders.
Water is no doubt the singular most important thing birds need to survive. Due to their low body weight, they lose water quickly and need to drink often, especially in summer.
There are so many gorgeous options for bird baths, there will be one out there you will just love.
The hanging bowl style is simple and effective, so much so that you can literally have them all over your garden. Or choose just one and be able to move it around whenever you want. They are also easy to clean when necessary, and can double as bird feeders.
Another design that has stood the test of time is the “bowl on a pole”. The basic design has evolved throughout the centuries into some modern marvels, like the solar powered one shown to the left. The trend is increasingly towards multi-purposing, and this one is a perfect example. The incorporation of a solar light into its design would make it a beautiful and useful focal point in any garden.
“Two feather’d guests from Alabama, two together, and their nest, and four light-green eggs spotted with brown…”
Another style available is the solar fountain type. This one will also encourage water insects for your bird friends, and has the important feature of movement.
Moving water doesn’t stagnate as still water can, and this kind of fountain will require minimal cleaning.
There are also modern solutions for those of you in small spaces. Many bird baths available today are just a shallow bowl, which can be placed anywhere and decorated anyway you want.
Lastly, to go even smaller, a sweet little balcony model that anyone can find room for. You could also float flowers or candles in it and it would look very elegant.
Go see your local nursery or landscaper. They will have a range of bird baths for you to choose from, and will of course arrange installation for you if necessary. Some models need to be plumbed and connected to power, and you need to have this done correctly.