Birdbaths and Bird Feeders: Making Life Better For Our Feathered Friends
While Livening Up Your Garden


Birdbaths

Water is vital to the well-being of birds, who need water not only to drink, but to keep their feathers clean and fluffy, in order to provide needed insulation to keep warm in cold times of the year. In winter, in fact, birds bathe even more often than at other times of the year. Thus, make sure your birdbath has fresh, unfrozen water during the winter months as well. A de-icer may be necessary in some climates.

Birdbaths are thus a great benefit to wild birds, and a great way to lure birds to your garden. Nesting parents will be extremely happy to
find a water source near their nest, to avoid extended periods away from the nest, seeking water.

Place your birdbath near trees or shrubs, so that the birds can have a protected place to preen and clean their feathers after their bath, and also, keep the bath at least a few feet from a bird feeder, so to reduce the possibility of contamination of the food from debris in the water. Placing the birdbath in partial shade will keep the water cool during summer. However, if predators are a problem, place the birdbath in the open, so cats, coyotes, and the like, will not have hiding places from which to strike the unaware.

It is extremely important to keep your birdbath clean and filled with fresh water. Clean and scrub your birdbath at least weekly, and preferably twice a week, to remove bacteria, algae, and disease organisms, such as Salmonella, from taking hold. Make sure it is always
Birdbaths and Bird Feeders

Cottage Garden Birdbath

full of clean, fresh water, especially during the summer, when water will evaporate more quickly. Avoid any chemical when you clean the birdbath, and birds are extremely sensitive to many chemicals. You can use a small amount of vinegar or even bleach to clean, especially for algae, but make sure the birdbath is well-rinsed afterwards. The best way to care for algae is to prevent it with frequent cleanings and water changes, not to use harsh chemicals after the fact.

While smaller and more shallow birdbaths will mean smaller and less varied bird species will be attracted, larger, deeper birdbaths can be too deep for some birds. For smaller birds, an inch of water depth is as deep as they can manage. Many birdbaths are thus made with a shallow edge and a deeper center in order to accommodate varied sizes of birds.

Bird Feeders

When selecting a bird feeder, consider more than how pretty it may be or how well it may match your garden decor. Points that you should consider include whether or not it is easy to fill and easy to clean. Consider the materials, as weather resistant cedar or redwood
Birdbaths and Bird Feeders

Wood stream Deluxe
Cedar Chalet Bird Feeder

are good choices for wooden feeders, and you must, for the well-being of the birds who will partake of the feed, avoid chemically treated lumber.

Platform feeders are easy to maintain and attract a wide variety of species. Long, narrow platforms encourage birds to feed from the edge, limiting contamination of the station. Only a couple of days of feed should be placed in a platform feeder at a time. Hopper feeders can also attract a wide variety of birds, can hold several days to a couple of weeks supply of food. However, key an eye out for mold on any feed that has been out for more than a few days. Tube feeders are long cylinders with multiple perches and feeding ports. They provide several days supply of food and are usually easy to fill. Suet feeders are basically "cages" where suet cakes can be easily placed.

Whatever the style of feeder you choose, you must clean the feeder on a regular basis, in
order to help prevent the spread of avian diseases between birds. Should mold or mildew develop, remove all of the contaminated feed and thoroughly clean the feeder before filling with fresh feed. As with birdbaths, avoid chemicals, but in severe cases, a small amount of bleach may be used, but throughly clean and rinse afterwards to remove all of the bleach. Keep the area under the feeder clear as well. All sorts of things can end up growing in the ground below.

Care must be taken to protect your feeder if squirrels inhabit your area. For pole-mounted feeders place a squirrel guard on the pole so to prevent the squirrels from climbing up to the feeder. Squirrel guards are available that can be placed above hanging feeders to prevent squirrels from reaching the feed from the top.


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