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!
This spring we planted some bird-friendly bushes in the yard. I found I needed a new hose to water some of the plants that were further out in the yard and, being an analytical sort at heart, I did a little online research about hoses. Beyond the perpetual debate over whether this hose or that hose is truly non-kinking, I researched different types of hoses, how they are made and the pros and cons of various types. In the process, one type of hose caught my eye, a drinking water hose.
In my research, I learned that the typical garden hose leaches toxic chemicals and lead into the water that runs through it, especially when left out in the hot sun. (Check out this interesting article on “Hazardous Chemicals Found in Garden Hoses.”) This is why, when you purchase a typical garden hose, you’ll see a tag on it somewhere warning you that it should not be used to drink from or to provide water to pets.
Oh wow! It had been a very long time since I’d purchased a garden hose, so I hadn’t considered this at all when filling my birdbaths. If hose water isn’t good for people and pets, my guess is that it isn’t great for our feathered yard visitors either. Supposedly this water is okay to use for things like watering the lawn or a newly installed tree or bush, but if you have a home garden, do you really want to water your herbs and vegetables with lead and chemical tainted water? And providing the birds with a chemical and water cocktail? Yuck!
When I made the connection that this hose water was probably not something the birds should be drinking, I temporarily went back to my winter time practice of filling the birdbaths using a large pitcher filled from the kitchen sink’s faucet. Then I set out to purchase a drinking water hose.
I found this a little trickier than expected. I had thought to just pick one up at the large local home improvement store, but they didn’t stock them in the store. So I went home and did a little more research and purchased the “Camco 22853 Premium Drinking Water Hose (5/8″ID x 50′) – Lead Free” hose from Amazon. At the time I purchased this fifty foot hose, it was $21, which seemed reasonable and it qualified for free Prime Shipping. (Prices can change so the link below will show today’s pricing info.)
Camco says in their product description on Amazon that, “Camco’s Premium Drinking Water Hose is extra tough and great for camping, RVing, gardening, washing your vehicle, watering livestock and more. This drinking water safe hose is lead free, BPA free, phthalate free and also won’t give your water that ‘garden hose taste’. The hose is 20% thicker than standard drinking water hoses, making it more resistant to leaks and pinholes. The durable hose is reinforced for maximum kink resistance. Hose ID is 5/8 inch for high flow.”
I’ve been using this hose to water my herb and vegetable garden and to fill my birdbaths for the past month. It does appear to be a good quality hose and I’ve had no problem with it. So far, it hasn’t kinked either. I feel better knowing that the water I’m providing for visiting birds is now cleaner and free of these chemicals and lead.
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