Feathered Friends Need Water During Hot Weather

Don’t forget to provide water for the feathered friends in your backyard during this extremely hot weather we are having this summer. Although birds lack sweat glands, they can perspire through their skin and thus reduce body heat. Birds can also get rid of excess body heat by panting, which allows water to evaporate from the surface of the air sacs. The challenge is both of the above cooling methods are dependent upon a ready source of cool water.

There are manyways to offer water including birdbaths, drippers, misters, shallow dishes and small ponds. Birdbaths are probably the most common source of water.

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

They can be ground level birdbaths, pedestal birdbaths or hanging birdbaths. It is important to consider the area where the bath will go. Some birds prefer to drink at ground level in an open area. If there is an abundance of vegetation on the ground where predators can hide, it might be wise to place a birdbath on a pedestal. Whether your birdbath is on the ground, a pedestal or hanging, the following are suggestions for the best results:

  • Look for a basin that can be easily cleaned and has a gentle slope so birds can wade into the water. The bowl should be no more that 1” to 3” deep. Anything deeper, the birds will avoid it.
  • To accommodate more than one bird at a time, the diameter should be at least two feet.
  • Make sure the bottom surface is tough enough for solid footing, or place small rocks in the bottom to create different depth levels for birds to perch on.
  • Your water source will be more obvious to birds if the inside of the bath is a dark color. Tests have shown that water in a dark container is used more often by birds.  Reflections from the water are much more noticeable to them.
  • Keep your birdbath at least 15 feet from your other feeding areas.
  • Clean water is a must; replace water every 2-3 days.
  • Add a dripper of mister accessory to keep the water fresh. The noise and movement these accessories create, draw the birds like a magnet.
  • Birds can’t fly well when they are wet. Place the water source near shrubs, trees or fence for quick escape from predators. Having perching space nearby makes it convenient for birds to sit and preen after bathing.
  • Locate your birdbath in a shady part of the yard. This will keep the water at a cooler, more refreshing temperature in hot weather.
  • Drippers, misters or small pump-driven fountains that keep the water moving have the added benefit of preventing mosquito eggs from hatching.

Not all birds need to drink water. Hummingbirds, for example, have a largely liquid diet as they feed on nectar producing flowers. They do enjoy playing in water, however, and love to zip through the mist created by a mister. They use wet leaves near the mister as a wash cloth.

There is no better way to get birds flocking to your yard than a good source of fresh water. A bird’s need for water through every season of the year is so strong that even species you never expected will be attracted to a strategically placed water source.

Having a birdbath is an advantage to anyone who enjoys observing nature in general and bird behavior in particular.


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