There is something undeniably alluring about water. Listening to it gurgling from a backyard pond or watching its surging power in a fountain display, water has restorative power. And it attracts wildlife to the home garden.
In the spring, South Texas has an influx of winged visitors that provide months of bird watching pleasure. In the fall, they are preparing to leave and migrate to their winter homes. A good drink of water from a backyard water source is a refreshing way to say so long and hurry back next spring.
As autumn approaches, we know too well that there may be a few early freezes and remaining hot days. Keep fountains or birdbaths ready for thirsty visitors during both cold and warmer days. They will be traveling and making stops along their migration path during which hydration is key to their survival.
If you are planning a backyard water station for our fall friends, consider the following:
Keep it Low. Most natural water sources are on or near the ground. It’s where birds look. Place the bath basin on the ground or raised a foot or so off the ground.
Keep it Shallow. Birds don’t bathe in deep water. Keep the level in your birdbath to about two inches or less. This is perfect for songbirds to wade into and splash around. If your bath basin is deep, place a layer of gravel or some large, flat stones in the bottom to offer birds a choice of water levels.
Good Footing. Gravel or large stones in the bottom of the bath basin also give bathing birds better footing while using the bath. This is necessary to make the birds feel less vulnerable while they bathe.
Cover Nearby. Just as you want the birdbath or fountain to be where you can see it, the birds need to have some protective cover nearby (but not too close where cats can prey). This will give the birds a place from which they can approach the bath, and a place to flee should danger approach.
Keep It Clean. Leaves, feathers, sticks, insects, and other things—will accumulate in the water of your birdbath. Clean and add fresh water daily.
Add Motion. Nothing makes a birdbath more alluring than moving water. Moving water sparkles in the sunlight and catches the attention of birds. And moving water has the additional benefit of preventing successful reproduction of mosquitoes that breed in still water.
So go with the flow this fall with a backyard fountain or birdbath that welcomes nature’s creatures to our autumn garden.
*Article as seen in Alamo Heights Living Magazine. Photos courtesy of Debbie Weber.