Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fun with Bathing Birds

Mourning Dove in bird bath, Corona de Tucson, AZ
Everyone likes to feed the birds, but do you know that you can attracted more species by offering water? All birds need water, while all birds do not eat seed. And while we think of providing water in the summer time, birds also need water in winter, especially if the water in your area is all frozen over. For winter bird watering there are heated bird baths that consume very little energy, but in the summer we all know birds enjoy a good bath!
Cowbird and House Finch drinking from fountain
Watching bathing birds can be so much fun. Birds like shallow moving water best and this can be provided from a simple Water Wiggler in a bird bath to a simple fountain with a recirculating pump. I bought this simple fountain when I lived in Tucson, AZ and soon had birds galore. All it took was an extension cord and an outdoor outlet. The biggest concern was making sure the small water bucket that held the water and the fountain did not run dry. Also, I found that the small drainage hole could clog up and I really needed to have it set on a flat and level surface, but for the most part it worked well and the birds loved it!
Grindstone fountain in my mother's yard
Here on the east coast my mother has what I consider to be one of the best fountains of all. It's shallow but moving water attracts all kinds of birds and other wildlife. The faux grinding stone makes a perfect bathing area for the birds. Sometimes they land on the edge of the black tub and drink the water as it pours over the side. For me, I like to sit nearby and listen to the sound. If  I am sitting with the table between myself and the birds they will often come and bath right in front of me! If I am standing they will fly right off!
Juvenile House Sparrow in fountain
Due to the different depths of this fountain, the birds can choose what suits them. I often see young House sparrows coming for a drink and a bath, as well as many other birds. One of  the biggest mistakes one can make when installing a fountain or bird bath is too get something that is too deep with no shallow areas. Birds cannot bath in deep water and some cannot even lean down far enough over a steep edge to get a drink. All these things need to be considered when providing water for your birds.
Song Sparrow bathing in fountain
Robin bathing in fountain
Gila woodpeckers and house finches drinking from bird bath in Arizona
Of course, a simple bird bath works well also, but you must keep it clean. Algae likes to grow in bird baths, especially if they are in direct sunlight. Birds themselves can spread disease, so it is good to thoroughly clean a bird bath like this at least once a week. If you live in a mosquitoes prone you can use a Water Wiggler to not only attract the birds but to discourage mosquitoes! There are also natural enzyme products that can be added to the water to discourage mosquitoes and algae, but in the end you must clean the bird bath. Dump the old water out and clean the basin with a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water. let it soak for 15 minutes, then scrub, rinse, and refill.

Some of the most fun I have ever had observing a bird bathing was at the Corona de Tucson Waste Water Treatment Plant near Tucson, AZ. In Arizona these areas can attract all kinds of birds and birders! Most of them welcome birders but you have to call ahead and get permission. Some areas are actually developed as bird habitat and are open to the public, like Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, and Gilbert Water Ranch near Phoenix. Gus and I happened to go to the Corona de Tucson waste Water Treatment Plant on December 30, 2008. It was shortly after we bought our new Nikon D80 and Gus used the camera while I looked for birds with my bins. We were nearing the far reaches of one of the drainage ponds when we came upon this sight. I had Never seen such a large bird taking a bath before and the sight amazed me. While Gus snapped away with the camera I continued to observe the bird with delight! All of the following images were taken by Gus. we were just getting used to the camera at the time so please excuse some of the blurry images, but at least you can get the idea of what a bathing Cooper's Hawk looks like! 
Cooper's Hawk taking a dip in the drainage pond of Corona de Tucson Wastewater Treatment Plant 2008

Bathing birds are lots of fun!
Good-bye!
Come visit me at Kathie's Birds where I am saying Good-bye to Andover, Massachusetts and heading back to Tucson, AZ! Yes, I am migrating again!

25 comments:

  1. Esta é uma ideia brilhante. Alimentam-se as aves e tambem se embeleza o jardim.
    Aqui eles comem as semente dos girassóis e não sobra nada para reserva.Outros levam-me os figos e as espigas de milho.
    Muitas pessoas deixaram de cultivar as terras e agora eles concentram-se onde encontram comida.
    A água também tem muita por aqui, nem preciso de lhes colocar o bebedouro mas pareceu-me bonito para o jardim.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Buenos "chapuzones" (baños) en este reportaje.
    Desde que país nos mandas las fotos?
    Saludos Tammy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wonderful captures Kathie. I will need to find some sort of fountain I think for next summer, I like the look of that. How neat to see a bathing Cooper.
    s

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dan, it was such a treat! I want a fountain again also. I have missed having one here in MA!

      Delete
  4. What a fun post Kathie! Love the bathing Cooper's Hawk images. I'm looking forward to your posts & images from Arizona!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mia, once I got the idea, this was fn to put together. I am so glad you liked it! I suppose I will be out the door birding as soon as I arrive in AZ! Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  5. Very cool Kathie. I especially love the symmetrical Woodpeckers. Looking forward yo your Tucson return!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laurence, I will be there soon!Thank you!

      Delete
  6. You've convinced me. I'm getting a bird bath. I have a small feeder but I don't have any big trees or bushes in the backyard so I only get doves and blue jays. Maybe a bath would help. Beautiful pictures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bird bath will help but adding even one or two bushes would help also as birds need cover. Have fun shopping!

      Delete
  7. Pakistani Maza
    pakistani maza is a place where
    you can download free nature , funny wallpaper,play free games
    watch funny ,magic and mahndi dances videos, See Santa Banta Clips
    Listen Islamic Naats download islamic Wallpapers,
    you can earn money by Zeek Rewards and much more
    http://pakistanimaza.tk
    https://plus.google.com/116480883570376766763
    https://twitter.com/pakistanimaza
    twitter
    google plus
    fun maza
    pakistani maza
    Nature Wallpapers
    Funny Videos
    Mehndi Dances
    Magic Tricks
    Funny Wallpapers
    zeek rewards
    islamic cornor
    santa banta
    http://pakistanimaza.tk
    facebook

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post Kathie! Your photos are very entertaining, especially the Hawk! I absolutely love the Grindstone fountain; I can see why all the birds are attracted to it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tammy! I wish I ciould find one of thoose fountains for myself!

      Delete
  9. Heated bird baths is something new to me but seems like a great idea. It's like you said, all birds need water but not all birds eat seed so a bird bath is great way to have some fun bird watching. Great photos!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great info and images, Kathie. I have a bird bath on my deck and would consider adding a Water Wiggler. I was surprised the other day to see a wasp moving cautiously down the rim to drink.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hilke, almost every animnal needs water. Yes, the wasps, butterflies and bees are attracted to these fountains and in AZ it even attracted toads! In my mother's yard the squirrels and chipmunks drink from it and sometimes even the neihgborhood cats! I chase them away when I see them.

      Delete
  11. It's always fun watching birds bathe. They seem to get so much enjoyment from splishin' and splashin'. Cool photographs of the hawk bathing, though they all are wonderful. What a sight. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie, I do think that birds have so much fun bathing and I think that is why it is so much fun to watch them!

      Delete
  12. What a fun series of birdies bathing! The Gala Woodpeckers view is priceless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie, the photo of the Gilas was back in my archive so I was pleased to find it and add it to this series! It was much more work to keep that bird bath clean though.

      Delete
  13. Thank you everyone for your comments. They are much appreciated. I had a busy week with family and was unable to reply until today. For those of you who responded in Spanish, thank you. I will reply when I can get a translation!

    ReplyDelete