How to look after garden birds – Bird baths
During the cold winter months, our feathered friends need a little more care and attention than at other times of the year.
Many of us remember to put out some tasty treats like fat balls and peanuts to keep them well fed, but they also need a fresh source of water for both drinking and bathing. Despite their name bird baths are not just for washing in and are the most practical way to provide them with fresh water for drinking as well.
What sort of bird bath to buy
There are lots of different styles of bird bath available, so it’s easy to find one to suit your garden. Most of them will be elevated to keep them away from predators and fairly heavy so that they can’t be knocked over.
However, you don’t have to buy a specially designed bird bath, and can make your own with a sturdy shallow dish or bowl. Size isn’t important as long as you fill it with at least 2.5cm (1 inch) of clean water. If the bottom of the container is slippery you could also add a thin layer of fine gravel to help the birds when they stand in it.
Where to place your bird bath
Make sure your bird bath is lifted off the ground so that cats and other predators can’t get to it. It’s also a good idea to keep it away from anything that could be used by an animal to jump onto the bath like a fence or building. Additionally, by keeping it away from trees it will stay cleaner for longer, as it won’t get filled with dead leaves and twigs.
How to maintain your bird bath
Ideally you should replace the water in your bird bath every few days, but it’s also a good idea to fish out any large pieces of debris every day, to stop the water from going stagnant.
When it’s really cold you can leave a tennis ball floating in the water which will make any ice that forms easier to crack. However, even if you don’t use a ball, it’s important to keep the bird bath clear of ice by removing it regularly, and then topping up the water. Of course, you should never add any chemicals to stop the water from freezing as these would be toxic for the birds.
How to clean your bird bath
To prevent droppings, bacteria and algae from building up in your bird bath and making the water dirty and unappealing, it’s important to clean it regularly. It should only take a few minutes to give any bird bath a good clean.
- Tip out the old water.
- Use a brush to sweep away any algae, moss, droppings or debris.
- Spray the bird bath with a hose to rinse thoroughly.
- Refill with clean, fresh water.
- Enjoy watching the birds having a drink and a splash.