Welcome to the baths!

While I remain lamentably ignorant about the birds in my garden -- something I hope to remedy -- I have a gut feeling that bird feeders here in the temperate climates are unnecessary if not a bad idea. Instead, I choose plants with seeds and, more importantly, native plants that attract insects, the best food for baby birds. I feel differently about bird baths. There's no rain for many months in the summer, and even now in the rainy season we've just had a three week dry spell. I'm suspicious of the run-off from lawns, full of herbicides and fertilizer. So I have some water sources in my garden.
On the left is a large concrete fountain (the kind you buy in the hardware store) left by the previous owners. Mr. Mouse installed a solar pump, so we -- birds and humans -- enjoy the sound of a burbling stream when we need it most. And word has gotten around in the bird community, the fountain is popular with the finches, Gold-Crowned Sparrow, and Black-Capped Phoebe.
The hanging bird bath I bought last year seemed a long shot, though the price was right. It came with a picture of several birds clinging to the chain and sitting at the edge. "Yeah, right," I thought, but hoped for maybe one or two visitors every now and then. Turns out the picture was correct! The finches (Gold Finch and House Finch) love this bird bath. They use it mostly for drinking, and it's often quite crowded there in the morning.
On the shadier side of the garden I have my succulent standing bird bath, which is a concrete bird bath that came with the house but had a crack. I solved this problem with a plant saucer and some dirt and succulents. I often add a few flat stones so the bath is easier to access for smaller birds. The succulent bath is preferred by California Towees, Robins, and the occasional jay. In spring, when every bird appearantly wants to look great, I sometimes feel as if I'm the maid for the birds, filling the bath several times a day.
Some birds seem to favor my little water garden, shown in this post, though the barrel is really too steep. Still, I saw a chickadee sitting on one of the leaves just last week. Daring but effective.
Finally, here's a picture of the plant saucer I put in the front as a ground-level bird bath. Right now, the plants in the front are still fairly small and there's little danger of a cat hiding behind them, so it's probably fairly safe. And the birds don't seem to mind the foot traffice and cars shown in this not very artistic photo. In fact, in the last two weeks I've felt as if I had the only open bird bar for miles around, and everyone came by a few times a day for a drink (or a bath).


I really love birdbaths in my yard, too! Your ideas behind the ones you have provide interesting photo ops! And it sounds like they really draw the birds in-which is what you want in the first place. Mine are just basic with water, no plants...nothing special, but I still get the birds...esp. in winter. They love my heated birdbath! It draws in a variety of them all winter long.
Country Mouse said…
Wonderful! Many in my neighborhood-us included- feed hummingbirds but we don't feed otherwise. My dad scrubs out the birdbath regularly and fills it. He notices they wait a day before using the bath - we are not sure if it's chlorine in the water (we're on well water) or the scrubbing. They don't use dirty water. Recently we've been getting visits from whole flocks of Lesser Goldfinch, Fox Sparrow, other kinds of sparrow I can't yet identify, and Bushtit - it's fun to see them crowd in. Also lesser numbers of Chickadee, House Finch, Robin, Stellar's Jay and Western Scrub Jay, Thrasher. Our visitors are mostly all Small Brown Birds, but they get more and more interesting as you observe more - funny how that happens! We have not had many visitors to our hanging bird bath. Maybe it's in the wrong spot.
Michelle said…
I don't have birdbaths, but I do have a fountain that the birds love. The fountain has a large urn with water running over the edge into a pool below. The birds love to stand on the rim of the urn to drink and splash. The hummingbirds are especially fun to watch as they bathe. I get visits from a lot of the same birds you do, also Towhees, Titmice, Juncos, and an occasional Acorn Woodpecker.
Northern Shade said…
You have a good assortment of baths at the bird spa. I love watching birds at my birdbaths. Some of them seem to take such pleasure in a good shower, splashing the water all around.I have 2 birdbaths, and notice that some of the smaller birds will go to the one, when the larger birds are splashing in the other one. Sometimes they are lined up on a pine branch, as they wait for the previous spa customers to clear out.