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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Selecting a birdbath that birds will actually like and use

When is a birdbath not really a birdbath?

Often what’s called a birdbath is really just a “garden ornament” that birds rarely use, and becomes a maintenance headache. In reality, anybody who can pour concrete can make what's loosely called a "birdbath". Birds, however, may not give it more than glance before going elsewhere. Address these four things when shopping for a true birdbath.

·       Depth. Most birds are afraid of deep water (they’re terrible swimmers). The water’s depth should be no more than 2 to 2½ inches unless you're trying to attract ducks.

·       Material. It shouldn’t be so light that it blows over.  Some metals or resins are good. Concrete is best, but make very sure that it’s a “dense” concrete that doesn’t harbor algae or soak up water The water freezes and expands in winter to cause cracking, and in warm weather cheap concrete provides a place for algae to grow.

·       Ease of cleaning. Birds like clean water. Algae (which grows in many birdbaths) can be eliminated in a good birdbath with regular scrubbing. Aeration from a bubbler or dripper helps too. Bleach is only called for if the algae gets a foothold.

·       Location. Place it within 3 to 5 feet of a dense shrub - an “escape route” for birds if a predator (cat?) appears. Too close and the predator can sneak up on a bird. A half-day of direct sun is good - afternoon shade is desired in north Texas.


OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.


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