When you water the garden, don’t forget the birds

We write often about alternative ways to provide plenty of water for your garden plants. But what about the birds, which help with pollination, keep destructive insects at bay and spread seeds? A recent article from Rodale’s Organic Gardening made us realize that we all can do more to keep our feathered friends happy.

One of the biggest challenges birds face, the article states, is finding fresh water.  birdsinw

Bird baths are one simple solution, but the water should be changed regularly and must be kept from freezing in the winter — which means installing a heater. If you’re not ready to spring for a birdbath, take a trash can lid, flip it upside down and find a place to support it — such as on few rocks, bricks or a cement block. You can even partially bury a small, plastic container to collect rainwater, creating a tiny “pond” big enough for smaller birds to bathe in.


A caveat, however, is that anything that collects water can also attract mosquitoes. Water should be checked regularly and dumped if it’s dirty or has larvae swimming in it.


A more effective — and attractive ­— option is a small pond with a waterfall: “The sound of running water attracts birds,” the Rodale article states. “If your water source is small, they may not be able to see it from a distance, but they often hear the sound.”


The running water will also send most mosquitoes looking for a more hospitable environment.


Another great point the Rodale article makes is that plants can serve as water sources, too: “Hostas, dogwoods, and other plants with concave surfaces collect pools of water that make the perfect-sized bath for hummingbirds, warblers, and other smaller birds.”


 Get creative and find new ways to keep the birds happy. In return, they’ll reward you by singing, keeping the bug population in check and helping to pollinate the plants. 


For more about attracting birds with water, take a look at this page from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.