As in large parts of the US, it has been bitterly cold here in Maryland. The bird feeders in the yard are hopping with birds, as are the birdbaths. When everything else is frozen solid, a heated birdbath is a big draw for birds . . . and ok, also squirrels and neighborhood cats. Everyone is looking for a place to get a drink.
I have several birdbaths in my yard and all but one is a simple inexpensive DIY version. You really don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to offer birds water. Most of mine are simply large plant saucers from the local home improvement store that I set on the ground and keep filled with water year-round. (In the winter, I add a heater to one of them.) But I decided recently to create one more. This one actually has a base so that it sits higher . . . and it has something hidden underneath it!
Just as I was congratulating myself that I had gotten my various bird feeders strategically set up around my yard so that they attracted the birds I wanted to attract while keeping squirrels out of the seed . . . a new visitor from nature arrived. While I have yet to actually lay eyes on the furry creature, I’m confident that I’ve got a raccoon as a new yard visitor or resident. Here is the evidence of the critter’s crimes against my bird feeders and my strategy for (hopefully) thwarting the raccoon’s attacks on the food I put out for the birds.
All birds need water. If you make sure it is available to them year-round, you’ll find that it can be as much of an attraction as putting out seed or suet. In fact, birds that might have no interest in eating at a feeder may come to visit your yard if there is water available. Providing water when the temperatures dip into freezing levels, requires some adjustments, but it isn’t hard.
I have several birdbaths in my yard year-round. All except one are either right on the ground or very close to the ground. The final one is on a fairly low table on my front porch. While the birds seem to love these ground birdbaths, the cats in the neighborhood see them as an opportunity to hunt, so I set up a simple “all natural” birdbath defense a month or so ago that seems to be working very well.
Birdbaths are popular with all birds, even birds that otherwise wouldn’t visit a bird feeder, making them a great addition to your back yard. Watching a small flock of American Goldfinches lining up around the rim to drink or an American Robin taking a bath is a joyful experience. Because birdbaths are located outside, one common way to fill them is to use a garden hose. But is your hose actually providing healthy clean water for the birds? You may be surprised to find that it is not!
One of the best ways to attract birds to your yard is to offer water. Most of us don’t have a yard with a pond or stream to naturally provide water, so we need to find another way. While you could of course purchase a birdbath designed for the purpose, my homemade birdbaths cost less than $10 each and the birds are as happy with them as if I’d spent $300 each.