A backyard habitat isn't complete without water for
drinking and bathing. In fact, furnishing clean water at the right
height with protective cover nearby is one of the most useful
methods you can use to attract birds and improve wildlife habitat.
A predator-safe birdbath will lure species that seldom visit
feeders, especially during spring and fall migrations and the hot
Many migrant songbirds, including warblers, vireos,
and gnatcatchers, normally dwell in the forest canopy. Other
backyard residents, including catbirds, thrashers, wrens, towhees
and thrushes, haunt secretive thickets to avoid predators and
venture away from cover only briefly. In the wild, they drink and
bathe in water droplets among leafy branches, and in bromeliad
"cups" located close to dense, low shrubbery. As a result, although
water is plentiful in Florida's many lakes and streams, as well as
the rockpits and miles of canals that criss-cross south Florida,
south Florida's shallow pools, lakeshores, water gardens, bird
baths and misters seem to be more useful to most songbirds and
small mammals. A few migrants, including robins, will use canal
edges, but even they seem to prefer shallow birdbaths.
Almost any flat receptacle that holds water will
attract birds. An upside-down garbage can lid is a simple and
A really successful bird bath:
- is located in a shady, protected spot about 15 feet from
shrubbery and is mounted three: feet off the ground
- has a dry edge or "beach" around the perimeter and then a
gradual slope to a depth of two to three inches in the center.
Birds will not bathe in bird baths with sides that are too
- has a rough bottom for safe footholds
- has "live" or moving water. Misting or dripping water attracts
birds that might otherwise overlook the bath. Thin metal bird bath;
magnify the sound of falling water droplets which birds find so
irresistible. The best design should include a thin jet or mist of
water that shoots vertically into overhanging tree branches and
then drips back into the bath.
Keep your wildlife water supply both dependable and
clean. Unpredictable water sources are rarely visited.
You should time your mister's operation to minimize
cost and wasted water. Both migrant and resident birds are most
active between sunrise and 10:00 a.m., and again in the later
afternoon and early evening. Install a timer at your hose outlet to
activate the mister jet only at those times.