The Love of Nature.


Continuing our series on birds, we would like to mention water. Besides the seeds and all the other types of bird food that so many birders purchase for the love of our feathered friends, they need water. Water is very important for birds throughout the year, not just in the heat of summer. Small ponds with trickling water will invite many birds to the area and can be quite busy.


These Red crossbills enjoy being together and make a colorful display with the many shades of reds and yellows. The dominate color in this pond is the males red feathers. These red feathers also give us the common name. Small ponds along with the larger ones, can entice many birds to bathe and drink. For those apartment dwellers however, and those without a large garden, ponds are not an option. The answer lies in those small garden saucers that many people stand a flower pot in. These take up very little room and can be well used by the birds. They are especially kept busy if they can be placed around the feeding stations.


These tiny Bushtits try to duplicate the Crossbills by bathing together in a six inch dish. Finding a special dish like this they may not use any of the others even if only two feet away. Bushtits really do stick together; on suet blocks they will cover the whole thing. They never seem to get aggressive and get along quite amiably. Other birds will use these dishes that you can space out around your sun deck. These dishes are made in different sizes, some are deeper and others much bigger. The Chickadees and nuthatches, the Juncos and many species of Sparrows, all enjoy these drinking and bathing facilities. Even some of the larger birds will bathe in them, and then the bigger birds will also enjoy the water to drink.


The Northern Flicker is one of the larger birds that will visit these small watering holes. They all like to keep everything ship shape. The Pileated woodpeckers also comes to these small dishes, but of course they are too small for him to bathe in, but they do call in for a drink. The water should be replaced quite often, even daily in some circumstances. Any sounds that water makes, either dripping into a pond from a bucket with a pin hole in the bottom, or the splashing of these birds bathing, will attract other birds. Obviously, with so many birds in the area, the water dishes needs to be kept clean all of the time. Scrubbing them with soapy water and a thorough rinsing afterwards should be carried out on a regular basis. An easy way to clean the dish and change the water is with the use of a small hand brush. Brush the water out of the dish and it helps to clean it, then just refill the dish with clean water.


Other items can be used to provide the birds with bathing and drinking facilities. Here we have a Spotted Towhee enjoying a vigorous bathe in an old frying pan, just remove the handle and you have a sturdy bathing dish. This was secured to the sundeck by an angle bracket fastened to the pan where the handle was attached. As mentioned earlier, the birds need water throughout the year. In the cold days and nights of winter, the water will freeze. With these small dishes it is easy to take care of this problem. Each bowl can be taken indoors and the dish washed in hot water. An alternative is to have one or two spare dishes to replace the frozen ones.