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In Bird Friendly Cities, key threats to birds are effectively mitigated, and nature is restored so native bird populations can thrive.

Helpful Resources

  • Writer's pictureBrenda Ibey

Bird Baths and Water Supply

Brenda Ibey, Avant-Garden Shop

All life needs water. More and more of our summers have been extremely dry, which can make it challenging for birds and butterflies to find water for drinking and bathing. Adding a couple of water features to your yard is an easy way to help them out while increasing wildlife viewing opportunities.

Bird baths are a simple and elegant addition to any garden. Proper placement will contribute to the creation of more functional habitat in your yard, which will ultimately mean that each feature you set up (feeders, baths, nest boxes, etc.) will get more use. Keep these things in mind when setting up your bird bath:

  • Place the bath near a tree or shrub that a bird can escape into, but not so close that a predator can hide in and attack while the bird is using the bath.

  • To keep the water cleaner longer, avoid placing the bath under a tree/shrub that sheds a lot of leaves, flowers, or fruit, or too close to a bird feeder that sheds husks and dust.

  • Consider putting the bath in a garden so splashes will water the plants beneath it.

  • Placing the bath in dappled sunlight, rather than full sun or shade, will result in sparkles that are attractive to both people and birds.

  • Consider window strikes when choosing your location.

  • To make cleaning and refilling the bath easier, place it within reach of your garden hose.

  • It's important to keep your bird bath clean for bird and human health. Be sure to clean it as needed but at least once a week. This is as simple as draining, scrubbing, rinsing, and refilling, which takes less time the more often it's done.

Mosquitos need stagnant water to breed. The water in a bath that's being used by birds isn't stagnant, and cleaning and refreshing the bath at least once a week will disrupt the breeding cycle of any mosquitoes that happen to lay eggs in it. Some bird baths, have agitators called Water Wigglers that create ripples to attract birds and prevent mosquitoes from using them.

Butterflies and bees also need water. In addition to being delightful to look at, both play an important role as plant pollinators. Setting up for butterflies is similar to birds, except butterflies benefit from shallower water with something to land on to access the water. This could be as simple as placing a few coloured stones in a tray of water or purchasing a butterfly bath.


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