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Bird Baths and Drinking Water
20th August 2013
A few summer days without rain and our lawns quickly turn brown, remember when this happens our birds and wildlife will be thirsty too.
All the birds and mammals visiting our gardens require a reliable source of fresh water. Being a temperate land, our wildlife have not evolved to cope with long dry spells and need to constantly replace the fluid lost through sweating, respiration and in their droppings.
Birds have the benefit of flight to help them cover large distances seeking out water but many of our mammals do not have that luxury. Additional challenges are moving from their normal territories, wildlife risk death or injury, for example on our roads in their hunt for water.
Providing a low sided dish topped up daily with clean water will provide the fluid the birds and animals need to maintain good health without the hazards.
In addition to needing to drink daily, our birds and mammals need to bath regularly to keep their fur and feathers in prime condition and keep pests and parasites such as fleas and mites under control. By washing in water dirt and debris can be more easily removed and the effect of damping also activates the oil from hair and feather glands that will keep insulating layers dry and outer coats weatherproof.
Siting and maintenance
There are many ways to make sure water is always available in the garden. A small (or large) pond with shallow sloping sides can ensure water is constantly available even while you are away on holidays etc. Putting out stable shallow sided dishes and birdbaths under the shade of a tree or shrub will provide small mammals such as hedgehogs and squirrels quick easy access and a hanging bird bath, hung from a tree or on a pedestal, will allow birds to drink and bathe in a safe place where they can keep their eyes open for dangers.
Providing more than one source of water and at different heights will allow more wildlife to access it and make your garden more attractive to a greater diversity of wildlife.
Give the bird bath / drinking station a good clean regularly as bacteria can be transmitted if allowed to build up.
Don’t forget when winter comes and a few sub-zero nights leave the pond capped in ice all the above remains true. This is why we suggest getting in the habit of putting out fresh clean water all year round.