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Birds and water

(61 Posts)
Sunnysideup Tue 09-Aug-22 12:53:12

So….have put a bowl of water out for the birds. I thought in this weather they would like to have a nice cool bath. I’ve been watching diligently for two days and not a single bird has visited! Have I done something wrong?

Shandy3 Sat 13-Aug-22 20:12:06

Birds don't like it too deep if it is they won't use it, they need to be able to settle on an edge to drink then assess the depth before venturing in. Washing up bowls mean they need to hop in to drink if the water is low and won't hop in if the water us too high,

Shizam Fri 12-Aug-22 22:36:08

Yes washing up bowl is too deep and slippery to get out of. Suggest shallow terracotta plant saucers. Been doing it for a few years. Bees, cats, foxes, many birds all love them. And as for the wood pigeons that use it as a toilet/bidet, seems to be a common problem. Cheeky beggars!

Washerwoman Fri 12-Aug-22 15:51:30

Ps I put a couple of large stones in each bath for insects to land on and drink with less risk of drowning.The bees use them all the time.

Washerwoman Fri 12-Aug-22 15:49:10

We have two birdbath and last year made a wildlife pond at the end of the garden and they are in constant use.The birds definitely have feeding and siesta times we have noticed.It's all quiet now but in a couple of hours they will be back to feed and splash about.I particularly love the starlings in the morning. About 12 in and out of the bath have a great time.

Pedwards Fri 12-Aug-22 13:20:09

Like other GN posters, I have several around (good for insects ie bees and butterflies too) and have just bought another for my front garden. I agree, it can take some time for new things to be trusted and used. I’m eager to attract wildlife to my garden, I feed the birds and plant for bees and butterflies. Someone else recomended using some stones for insects to bathe. Other tips are using glazed saucers and dishes so that they can be washed to avoid the build up of algae and disease (like bird flu), water should be changed daily and pots and feeders cleaned weekly and not to use plastic or metal as it can affect the water and might be toxic for wildlife.
Birds appreciate fresh water in the winter too, for a bath so that they can fluff up their feathers to help them keep warm.

Sunnysideup Fri 12-Aug-22 12:25:46

These two shallow dishes have been out now since Tuesday pm but still haven’t seen any visitors. However, I’m not about all day watching so maybe I’ve missed them. However, reading your comments has been an education and I’ve really enjoyed learning about the complexities of birds and water! Thank you again.

Witzend Fri 12-Aug-22 11:01:33

I think they need to be already used to it, OP. We have 3 shallow bird baths (two on the ground) year round, plus a fountain. All very well used daily - the bird baths often need topping up in the afternoon because of all the splashing.
We feed the birds too (a lot!) so there are always plenty about.

TwinLolly Fri 12-Aug-22 08:19:58

We have a large but shallow ceramic flowerpot dish which works wonders. We have put in a graduating rock at the side so the birds can inch their way into the water if necessary, but at least have an idea of how deep the water is.

Needless to say, they sit up to their bellies in the water. Up to 6 sparrows/bluetits bathe at a time or 5 and a blackbird.

At the moment it is the youngsters that are learning to bathe and some stand on the edge and try to wash by dipping their heads into the water, until an adult or older bird gets into the water and shows them how it is done.

Yoginimeisje Fri 12-Aug-22 07:30:33

Yes I love watching the birds have a drink from my bird bath, it has a fountain which keeps the water moving, I have a saucer underneath for hedgehogs too. I'm getting another large tree trunk planter today, which I'm going to use for some more water and intend making a small pond. Didn't know about putting stones in, so will do that when I get my tree trunk watering hole. So thanks for that advise.

I have 2 squirrels come every morning to pinch the bird food, they never drink from the water fountain though [?] or I've never seen them drink. They are so funny with their antics!

crazyH Thu 11-Aug-22 20:20:58

Can’t wait to see some sparrows drinking from my large shallow plant saucer

Desdemona Thu 11-Aug-22 20:14:16

Not many birds apart from a few local woodpigeons, but a lot of wasps are drinking from my birdbath.

Hetty58 Thu 11-Aug-22 18:14:03

I have three, well used bird baths in the back garden - and yes, I change the water twice daily. It's not wasted, though, as it waters the plants.

The birds 'hide' in the hedge during the hottest part of the day, so are busy at dawn and dusk.

This year, I've recycled a large old casserole dish to provide water at the front gate too - as, strangely, we've seen deer and rabbits about in the street. They must be seeking food and water as the nearby fields are dry.

Juliet27 Thu 11-Aug-22 17:31:04

I wouldn't bother changing the water why?! Birds drink and bathe in puddles canals rivers etc and the chemicals in tap water will probably do more harm than bit of grubbiness in the bath!
Changing the water is more for health reasons. It may lessen the chance of spreading it should a bird have a disease.

pinkjj27 Thu 11-Aug-22 16:48:11

As long as it’s clean and your clean your dish regularly, and as long as it’s in a safe place away from Predators then I doubt you have done anything wrong. It takes birds a while to trust a feeding, bathing, resting place but they will. Once they have established that it is a safe reliable stop then please keep supplying the water.
I have a few water baths, birds don’t always bathe in them they drink and poo in them as well but I just keep them clean and allow them to meet their needs in any way they choose. The pound shop sell a pet cleaning spray for £1 and it seem to do the job well. Enjoy the birds in your garden

Scottiebear Thu 11-Aug-22 16:40:58

Does take a little while for birds to find and use bird baths. I have 2 in my garden and also put several bowls on grass in garden as we have hedgehog. The birds love their baths. They are a joy to watch.

Glenco Thu 11-Aug-22 14:55:56

It's great that so many people are thinking of the birds while it's hot, but please don't forget the bees. They need water too, just a small dish filled with stones so they can land and drink, placed near a flower garden.

Bijou Thu 11-Aug-22 14:37:01

I have several bird baths but the favourite is a large one sunk into the ground under some shrubs.
Don’t have so many birds nowadays. Live in the middle of an estate where many gardens are gravelled.
I think there should be a ban on artificial lawns.

grandtanteJE65 Thu 11-Aug-22 14:27:42

I have an old fruit bowl with a stone in the middle and a twig poised as a ladder so mice and other small animals can climb out if they fall in.

The water level sinks daily, and here the heat wave has only just started, so someone must be drinking or bathing in the water.

I have deliberately placed it away from the house, as I know the hedgehogs are shy.

Foxyferret Thu 11-Aug-22 14:25:56

I have 3 birdbaths, two on pedestals and one on the ground no deeper than about 2 to 3 inches. They are all used so I clean and refill on a daily basis.

Ethelwashere1 Thu 11-Aug-22 14:07:23

I sat in the garden today by my pond and watched baby blackbirds bathing. They loved it as it’s in shade. They watched me with heads on their side and chirped as I sat very still. Lovely it’s a priveledge to see wildlife

Treetops05 Thu 11-Aug-22 13:55:08

It might depend on the depth, some birds are scared of deep water in a steep sided bowl...perhaps a shallow dish? Also, birds take a while to get used to new things- our new replacement bird feeder was ignored for 5 days...

Nicolenet Thu 11-Aug-22 13:25:53

Maybe put a few stones if the water bowl is too deep for little birds to access easily.

Kate1949 Thu 11-Aug-22 13:24:10

There is a large crow sitting in our bird bath as we speak. Cooling off.

Gabrielle56 Thu 11-Aug-22 13:22:10


I have many sparrows use my birdbath sometimes as many as five will be in there flapping about and occasionally I will get a blackbird in there as well. I make sure I change the water daily

I wouldn't bother changing the water why?! Birds drink and bathe in puddles canals rivers etc and the chemicals in tap water will probably do more harm than bit of grubbiness in the bath! Rainwater saved is best but I wouldn't advise changing with tap water!

Gabrielle56 Thu 11-Aug-22 13:18:41

#little birds!!! Edit tool please!!