Make sure you provide a source of water in your garden for the birds. It can be high-tech or not, as long as it’s wet. Especially in hot weather (like this week’s extreme heat wave), everyone—feathered or not—needs to stay hydrated. We have both a small water bowl on the deck rail for drinking, and a larger bird bath on a stand in the flower bed. They are used interchangeably: don’t know why, but some birds like to bathe in the soup-bowl sized drinking bowl. Go figure! We haven’t posted rules. Please yourself!
The jury seems to be out on why birds like hopping into the shallow water. In the garden, it’s songbirds, of course, that frequent a small water source. Most likely their feathers need a good clean to rid them of dust, mites, or perhaps to help tidy them for peak performance. After all, without the power of flight, a bird is….well…a penguin, an emu, an ostrich, a kiwi…but never a robin.
The clients that line up for our bathing spots include the American Robin, Gray Catbird, Song Sparrow and even a Western Tanager shows up once in a while.
But, wings down, the prize for most frequent visitor and probably the cleanest bird in the garden goes to the gorgeous, red-eyed Spotted Towhee.
Morning, afternoon and evening—anytime is a good time to see either Mr or Ms Towhee splish-splashing, spraying water onto the plants below (thanks for watering them!) until there’s not much left. I know they nest nearby, so this swimming hole is convenient. They’ll stay for a few minutes, in no hurry as they dip and flutter, soaking all those brilliant orange, black and white feathers.
Finally, bedraggled, they hop off to a branch to shake, ruffle and preen everything back into place.
Mr T, in particular, likes to vocalize in the tub. If I hear his buzzy trill close by, it’s wise to check the birdbath first because…oh, excuse me, I have to go and refill the bird bath.