8 Birds to look out for over Autumn and Winter

October 22, 2015

Winter is coming: Helping your garden birds this season

October 22, 2015

Why regular fresh water is vital for garden birds

October 22, 2015
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THERE ARE PLENTY OF THINGS that are easy to provide for your garden birds, from bird seed to birdhouses, but one of the most important things you can offer to your garden birds is fresh, clean water.

Although birds do not need as much water to survive on as mammals do, because they do not have sweat glands, their access to it is still extremely important, as they lose what water they retain through a lack of sweat through breathing and defecating.

Birds with dry diets, such as tits or greenfinches, are especially in need of this easy access, because they are unable to gain any water from their food, while wagtails, wrens and treecreepers are able to leech water from their live insect prey. However, during the winter months, access to fresh water in a bird’s natural habitat becomes limited, due to ice and hard ground, therefore the supply of fresh water you leave in your garden can make a world of difference.

Understandably, bird baths are not always an easy option for an everyday bird watcher, whether it be because your garden is a little too small or because your budget is, but have no fear! If you can’t provide a bird bath or specific bird hydration system, there is still a way to keep your birds happy and healthy.

Due to the fact that birds can drink from anything deep enough to dip their bill in, all you need is a bowl or dish that will provide this depth (roughly anywhere between 2.5-10cm), and that is sturdy enough to withstand the weather and your feathery friends’ talons. Ideally, you need the surface of the dish or bowl to be rough so that the birds can stand inside to bathe as well as drink, but this can be rectified by adding some garden pebbles into the bottom of the dish to prevent the birds from scrabbling in vain at the smooth surface!

During the approaching winter months, it is also important to remember that your makeshift bird bath needs to remain ice-free, so that your garden birds can still access it in the depths of the coldest winters.

There are a few simple and easy ways to prevent the water freezing without using chemicals (which are extremely harmful to the creatures, as it could remove their waterproofing or poison them!). These are listed below:

Try these tips to prevent your water from freezing

  1. Place a light ball such as a ping pong ball in the dish, which will be disturbed by even a gentle breeze and prevent the water from being still long enough to freeze.

  2. Pour hot water into the dish each morning to melt any existing ice and to top up the water levels.

  3. Use a rubber container as your bird bath, and leave it in the sun! Because rubber absorbs heat, it will remain warmer than a metal dish would overnight, and will prevent the water freezing.

These methods are all steadfast ways of trying your best to fight off that winter chill and give your birds the best possible chance of accessing fresh and clean water.

Other than keeping the water fresh and unfrozen, cleaning your bird bath is also extremely important. Your bird bath will build up a layer of algae and bird droppings over time, so cleaning should be done once a week. The best way to do this without leaving any harmful material that will put your feathered friends in danger is to use marketed non-toxic products, but if these prove to be hard to find or a little out of your price range, diluted household cleaners can also be used, as long as the bird bath is thoroughly rinsed out afterwards.

So now that you know all of the necessary information on what you can do to help your birds access their much needed fresh water, you too can provide every bird with some clean water to help keep them going through the winter!

Featured photo of by S.R.Miller Photography.

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