Many of us aren't thinking about gardens right now. With winter bearing down, our minds drift toward pumpkin pies and holiday spices. But not so fast.
Just because you are not spending oodles of time in your yard now does not mean that the birds aren't. Many birds are still migrating southward and looking for a place to take a dip. Plus, if you do not currently own a bird bath, there is still time to put one on your Christmas or Hanukkah list. Here's why you should:
Birdbaths bring beauty and life into your garden. We have far more diverse and interesting visitors to our bird baths than to our two feeders. The same four or five species that hit the feeders with regularity do enjoy our bird bath but so do migrating birds such as orioles, warblers, grosbeaks and woodpeckers.
Birdbaths offer a lifeline to wildlife during difficult times. California is in its third year of an epic drought, which has been particularly tough on native wildlife. The drought is driving animals into densely populated areas, desperate for food and water. We have had deer and hawks visit our birdbaths this year in addition to the usual songbirds and squirrels.
A thirsty bobcat gets a drink. Photo used with permission from Don Barclift.
Deer in our front yard. Those mostly ignored the plants - looking for water and shade.
Birdbaths even help imperiled pollinators.
Honeybees are frequent visitors to our birdbaths.
A birdbath on the cheap. If a new birdbath isn't in the budget - or on the gift list - never fear. Birdbaths are readily available at garage and estate sales and on Craigslist. I bought two of our five birdbaths second hand - for about $15 each. High quality bird baths can last generations.
If you cannot find a second hand birdbath, Pinterest is full of ideas for repurposed ones that are free or nearly so: overturned trashcan lids, repurposed frying pans and our pot/saucer below. I have even seen neighbors put out kitchen bowls of water for the thirsty mammals entering our neighborhood. No effort to share water with wildlife is too small.
World's cheapest birdbath.
How to situate a birdbath in your garden. My highest priority in placing a birdbath is purely selfish. Put it somewhere you can see it! I have one that I can watch through the kitchen window and another through the family room window. Being able to admire the visitors to our garden has turned my husband, my kids and most definitely my indoor cats into avid birdwatchers. At least once a week, someone will note, "There's a new kind of bird in the birdbath! What is it?" We get out the ID book and start squinting.
The view from our family room window.
After you have figured out places where you can enjoy your new birdbath, consider your visitors. Our most popular birdbaths have partial shade with a tree overhead. Birds regularly land in the tree to explore the situation before dipping in for a drink. If you have neighborhood cats, it is a good idea to keep the area surrounding the birdbath clear so that cats cannot hide nearby. More great tips here.
Our hanging birdbath is popular with smaller songbirds and pollinators.
I hope I have convinced you to entice beauty into your yard and extend a hand to wildlife. I hope I have convinced you that we need a birdbath in every garden.
This post is part of the Homestead Barn Hop, Backyard Farming Connection, Maple Hill Hop, and Green Thumb Thursday.