With summertime just around the corner, many gardeners are looking to encourage local birds to stop and make themselves a home. The easiest way to do this other than feeders, which can often be a challenge to protect from squirrels and unwanted visitors, is to provide water in a birdbath. But what type of birdbath should you choose?
As with any purchase the first things to consider when buying a birdbath are what is its main purpose or function. Ornamental, functional or both? Where will it be placed? Alone, as a centerpiece, accent or do you wish it to blend in with the overall design of your garden area?
Then…shop around! Even the most ornate birdbath can have a large price range depending on when and where it is purchased. It is quite possible to spend huge amounts of money for a very ornate birdbath in the early Spring, only to see that same birdbath marked way down in price as fall and winter approaches.
Of course the simpler the birdbath in style, the lower the cost.
Lightweight plastic birdbaths can certainly be found, but are seldom a wise investment. The lightweight material tens to tip or blow over and becomes brittle in fluctuating temperatures making frequent replacements necessary.
Birdbaths should be heavy enough to stand solidly and maintain their stability if bumped into by roaming animals, children or even the occasional lawn mower!
A wild bird bath should be placed about 10 to 12 feet from the shelter of nearby shrubs or trees, allowing birds quick access to shelter should a cat or other threat show up. Of course, cats and other predators can hide behind shrubs and attack birds while bathing so do not place a bird bath near low growing plants which allow places for predators to hide. Taller trees and shrubs will provide birds with perches and security while allowing them to see potential predators before an attack is made. Birds also like to preen and groom after a bath so a nearby perch will encourage them to stay around and do so.
Birdbaths should be shallow enough for most birds to sit or stand in. To deep and most birds will simply drink from the edge. To make a deep birdbath shallow enough for birds to bath in, gravel or small pebbles can be added prior to filling the birdbath for the first time. If predators such as a neighbor’s cat aren’t a concern a simplified birdbath could easily be a terra cotta pot saucer placed on the ground near a flower bed. Change water frequently in all birdbaths to provide a fresh clean source of water for drinking and bathing and you should have no problems attracting plenty of visitors.
Garden Centers and Hardware stores tend to carry the larger more ornate birdbaths as well as the heavier price tags. Catalogs, department stores or small garden nurseries can offer some great savings especially with ‘off season sales.
An extremely ornate birdbath can be a beautiful addition to a formal yard or garden, but your feathered friends aren’t so choosy! If you are in the market for an ornamental birdbath, then a white or light color structure will draw the attention. Be aware however that there are some theories that say birds are more attracted to water reflecting a dark surface as would naturally occur with a puddle, pool or pond. You can combine these two features by painting the inside of a lighter ornamental birdbath with a dark concrete or floor paint before putting it in use for the first time.
Buy a birdbath that fits your landscape design, budget and concerns. Your feathered friends will soon make it a popular stop while you sit back and enjoy the show.