Water is an essential part of a songbird’s habitat, and is required by birds throughout the year.
Birds need water for drinking, bathing, for making mud to build nests, to soak their food, even more in the winter, since their feathers must be kept clean in order to insulate them effectively.
As with offering food, it is important to provide a source of water consistently to keep birds coming back again and again. Using a birdbath year-round (you’ll want to add a small thermostatically controlled heater to prevent icing in the winter) will help keep your songbirds nearby.
Birds baths mimic puddles, and should be only 1” to 3” deep at the most, or birds will not drink form them. Ideally, the outer rim of the bath should be shallow, and then gradually slope toward the center.
Keeping water fresh and clean is critical to your birds health. If water is left unchanged, birds will not drink it or bathe in it, and it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and mosquitoes.
It is also important to keep your birdbath clean and free from bacteria, algae, Salmonella and other disease organisms that may foul the water. Clean your bath frequently – every three to four days – by flushing with a garden hose. For a more thorough cleaning – once or twice a year – use a mild bleach solution (9 parts water to 1 part bleach) or vinegar with a heavy brush. Rinse thoroughly to ensure no bleach or vinegar remains in the bath. (It is also a good idea to test a small area with the bleach solution first, as it may discolor some birdbaths.) Never use chemicals.
Place your birdbath out in the open, away from shrubs and other potential predators’ hiding places.
Audubon Workshop offers some great watering supplies:
Your songbirds will certainly enjoy the Backyard Basics Bird Bath an attractive and durable bird bath that provides them with an essential source of water.
The Bird Bath Cleaner Keeps your bath clear of unhealthy residue and stains.
The Broad Stroke Cleaning Brush makes it easy to keep baths clean and birds healthy.