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Bird Watching: Using pennies to keep algae out of bird bath

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TheHackster

TheHackster
Columbus, GA
(Zone 8a)

February 3, 2010
8:21 PM

Post #7526405

My wife was reading her January issue of Real Simple and, on p41 found, a neat article about using pennies as a "Birdbath cleaner".

To paraphrase, it said that to ward off algae, you can toss in a few pre-1982 pennies. Apparently, their high copper content retards the growth of algae.

I'll be giving it a try - just as soon as I find some pre-82 pennies.

Hack

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TheHackster

TheHackster
Columbus, GA
(Zone 8a)

February 3, 2010
8:23 PM

Post #7526408

I've got to do some more reading on this - I hope the copper doesn't warm the birds.

What are you thoughts?

Hack

TheHackster

TheHackster
Columbus, GA
(Zone 8a)

February 3, 2010
8:23 PM

Post #7526409

Ooops - double post.

Hack

This message was edited Feb 3, 2010 3:24 PM
DonnaB
Vancleave, MS
(Zone 8b)

February 3, 2010
8:25 PM

Post #7526413

never has worked for me and I did it for yrs

Resin

Resin
Northumberland
United Kingdom
(Zone 9a)

February 3, 2010
8:46 PM

Post #7526489

I'd not try it - copper content in the water high enough to kill the algae could well be toxic for birds too.

Resin

TheHackster

TheHackster
Columbus, GA
(Zone 8a)

February 3, 2010
8:49 PM

Post #7526499

DonnaB wrote:never has worked for me and I did it for yrs


Humm, this calls for an experiment. I'm going to set out 6 containers (milk jug bottoms - 2 with 10 pennies in each, 2 w/ 5 pennies each and 2 w/o pennies. I'll post what my results are.

Now, if I can just scrounge up 30 pre-82 pennies - that may take longer that the experiment.

Hack

TheHackster

TheHackster
Columbus, GA
(Zone 8a)

February 3, 2010
8:59 PM

Post #7526532

Resin wrote:I'd not try it - copper content in the water high enough to kill the algae could well be toxic for birds too.

Resin


That was my initial concern, too, but I've given it more thought. The algae are in constant contact with the copper, while the birds who visit are in, at best, infrequent, intermittent contact. Since my birdbath is not the sole source of water for even the few birds who do visit it, I would think the effect of the copper would be minimal, maybe even infantesimal.

Hack..

chris8796
Dunlap, IL

February 4, 2010
9:33 PM

Post #7530050

I doubt that it would work very well. I don't think you would get enough Copper to oxidize for it too work. Copper sulfate is a common algaecide and used to kill aquatic weeds. It is less toxic to birds than it is to other animals, pigeons have an LD50 of 1000mg/kg of body weight, while rats have an LD50 of 30 mg/kg of body weight. An LD50 is the dose needed to kill 50%. There are also some long term effects to chronic exposure. Copper sulfate is also one of the oldest fungicides known.

I just wash my bath with a dilute bleach solution every couple of weeks to keep the algae in check.

TheHackster

TheHackster
Columbus, GA
(Zone 8a)

February 5, 2010
4:40 AM

Post #7531263

Thanks Chris, what is your dilution formula for the bleach solution?

Hack
MargaretK
PERTH
Australia

February 5, 2010
1:30 PM

Post #7531792

Hack, I bought some barley straw concentrate. It cost an arm and a leg and at first I didn't think it worked as there didn't seem any loosening of the algae, but when I squirt it with the hose, even weeks later, all the algae just washes off. Algae still seems to grow, although maybe not as vigorously. I love it!! The bonus is, it's non-toxic and hosing the birdbaths into the garden isn't going to cause any problems to surrounding plants or good stuff in the soil.
chris8796
Dunlap, IL

February 5, 2010
5:44 PM

Post #7532513

I use about 1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water. I just let sit for about 10 minutes, dump and rinse. If I'm in a hurry I'll use a brush to speed the process.

TheHackster

TheHackster
Columbus, GA
(Zone 8a)

February 5, 2010
11:03 PM

Post #7533468

Thanks, Margaret and Chris.

Hack

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