Why don't the birds use my bird bath and water wiggler?

Maynard, MA

Hi,

I'm a somewhat new back (and front) yard birdwatcher. I finally put in a bird bath near the main bird feeders and I put a water wriggler in the bath. Although there are lots of birds devouring the sunflower seeds and suet, I haven't seen any birds use the bath. I'll take the water wiggler out today and see if anything different happens, though I've heard that they like gently moving water. Any ideas about why this bath is not in use?

Thanks,
Shayna

Ladysmith, BC

Not sure about the wriggler, I have several birdbaths and they are all use alot. Maybe too deep, or too warm or even in the open to much the birds like to be able to feel safe.

Marlton, NJ

Hi Shayna, Try putting it away from the feeders and near cover (like a bush).

Not sure about the wiggler. :-)

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I was too going to suggest moving it away from the feeders, closer to cover, easier for a predator to get them when their feathers are wet

Thayer, MO(Zone 6a)

My 3 birdbaths are close to feeders. No problem. Shrubs are several feet away. I got one of those wigglers last year, but it evidently scared my birds. I removed it after a couple of weeks. It was a dumb purchase! "Why fix something that ain't broke?"

Maynard, MA

We moved the birdbath between two shrubs last night, with the wiggler in it. Today was the first day that we ever saw any birds use it--but only the goldfinches.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

that's a start

Brooksville, FL(Zone 9a)

What is a wiggler? Is it something to keep the water moving?

Has anyone every thought about how the birds find water in a bird bath? I don't think birds can smell, so how do they find water?

(novice bird lover here)

Jan

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

They can probably see it

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

My birds like the old fashioned concrete bath. It has a nice rough surface for them to grip and stand on.

Maynard, MA

Quote from meadowyck :
What is a wiggler? Is it something to keep the water moving?


Yes. We use it because mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant water, but not so much in moving water. Also, I've heard that birds prefer the moving water, though I'm not sure if that's really true or not.

(Zone 5a)

Glad you started to get birds. I am sure more will come. We've never used a wiggler, but change the water every day. We do use a heater in the winter and it was a treat to see some birds we normally would not have at that time of year.

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

The birds that bathe here seem to prefer the stream over the pond edges, although they use both. However, I've noticed that some birds simply do not have interest in bathing. I have never seen the chickadees or wrens in there for instance.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Many birds just take dust baths

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Yes, i see that here a lot too. But also, those silly chickadees do not use the pond to drink out of either. Instead they'd rather go drink icky water in a plant saucer. lol.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

extra protein in the dirty water? LOL

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Just saw this thread, ShaynaPearl. Have you had any luck with the birdbath?

We have several birdbaths plus in the Summer I fill large flower pot saucers and put them on the ground in a shady area where lots of birds tend to hang out. One of our birdbaths is heated in the Winter. We have never used anything to move the water and they get constant use.

Not all birds are interested in bathing in the water, but most of them will take a drink now and then. You'll never have a problem with mosquitos laying eggs if you change the water often. In warm weather with heavy use I change the water at least a couple times a day.

Birds like to have the availability of "staging areas"... namely, perches (in trees, shrubs or man-made) so they can make sure it's safe before they stop to drink or bathe and then to go to as soon as they're finished.

Hope you've started getting lots of visiters.

Columbus, GA(Zone 8a)

I have only one bird bath. It is near my feeders and also near my trees/shrubs. I rigged a "water-dripping" system above the bath. The steady drip of water, makes for ripples on the water's surface. All kinds of birds visit - robins, brown thrashers, blue jays, cardinals, house sparrows and finches, goldfinches, morning doves I have seen and photographed at the bath. A few even sit under the drip.

The dripping system is very simple. I hung two one-gallon milk jugs next to the bath. I went to the pet store and bought a length of 1/4 inch plastic aeration tubing (like for an aquarium). I also bought the little plastic on-off valves that insert into the plastic tubing. I placed one end of the tube into the milk jug (weighted down with a little brass rod) and let the other end hang over the bath. Then, I sucked on the end of the tube and got a siphon going. I turned the flow of the on-off valve to nearly off. If you set it up right, it will drip, drip, drip, slowly into your bird bath. All I do is make sure the jugs don't run out of water.

If interested, I guess I could take a few pics of the set-up.

Hack

Columbus, GA(Zone 8a)

Here's a Blue Jay and a Robin at the bath.

Hack

Thumbnail by TheHackster Thumbnail by TheHackster
central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Yes, Hackster, pics please

Columbus, GA(Zone 8a)

I'll take some pics tomorrow.

Hack

Brooksville, FL(Zone 9a)

Yes I would like to see your set up. Thanks for going to the trouble of pictures for us.

Jan

Columbus, GA(Zone 8a)

Will do.

Hack

Columbus, GA(Zone 8a)

Ok, here's my setup.

#1 - I suspended two 1-gallon milk jugs over my bird bath.

#2 - I placed one end of 1/4 inch fish aquarium aeration tubing into a milk jug. What you can't see is the piece of wire clothes hanger I taped the tubing tube. It prevents the tube from crimping where it bends and enters the jug.

$3 - At the other end of the tubing I inserted a green plastic valve that controls air flow (in my case it controls water flow). Then, I opened the green valve, and sucked water out of the jug into the tubing. Once the water starts to flow I turn the valve down until the water is slowly dripping. it will continue to drop as long as water is in the jug.

#4 - Close-up of the green valve.

Hope this explains what I did. It works really well. The constant dripping, makes ripples in the water and that attracts my birds.

Hack

Thumbnail by TheHackster Thumbnail by TheHackster Thumbnail by TheHackster
Columbus, GA(Zone 8a)

Forgot the close-up.

I painted the jugs, and tubing, brown so they would not stand out so much, but I noticed that the water is kind'a warm, so I'm going to swap out the brown painted jugs with non-painted jugs. I figure the dark colors absorb heat - probably be better to use the dark jugs in the winter.

You can also see the length of wire clothes hanger that I taped to the pole. It makes sure that the drip ends of the tubing stay over the bird bath.

Hack

This message was edited Aug 9, 2012 12:56 AM

Thumbnail by TheHackster
central, NJ(Zone 6b)

how often do you have to refill the jugs?

Columbus, GA(Zone 8a)

Quote from flowAjen :
how often do you have to refill the jugs?


It depends on the rate of dripping. I usually refill the jugs every other day. My bird bath holds one gallon of water and the two jugs permit me to skip two refills of the bird bath itself. In the heat of summer, with evaporation and bird usage, the water goes pretty fast. I also sweep the water out of the bird bath frequently. I may one day use a 5-gallon bucket instead of the two jugs. But 5 gallons of water is too heavy for the feeder pole that holds the two milk jugs.

I have a similar dripper set up for my Blue Sky Vine. For it, I use a 5 gallon Lowe's bucket. It keeps the plant watered and the water doesn't run off like it does when I used to water it with the garden hose. For the 5 gallon weight I stacked up some concrete blocks and set the bucket on them.

Hack

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Hackster- thanks for posting, well done.

Trenton, NJ(Zone 6b)

very much appreciated your write up with discriptive text input with photos really provided all that was needed.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i'll just add one comment and that is that the majority of birds i see using mine, prefer a flat surface bath, not these baths with the big, deep bowls. both of mine are wide and flat and don't hold a lot of water but even the smallest of birds will get in both of mine. jays don't seem to mind a deeper bowl but if birds can't see the shallow bottom, they're not going to bathe.

Mcallen, TX

I too, use milk jugs over the birdbaths, but I puncture the jug bottoms with a pin just enough so that the water drips onto the birdbath. From time to time the pinholes clog up so I spray water into the jug and give it a good shaking then dump and refill. I've been doing this for years and the birds love it!!

Indy, IN(Zone 5b)

Has anyone tried the milk jug water drippers described by 'TheHackster' ? (August 9, 2012). I like the setup, but I would like to 'dress it up' a little to disguise the milk jugs. Any ideas? Thanks, JoWalker

(Zone 5a)

After reading about the jugs on this thread, I tried it and well... it scared the wits out of my birds, so I got rid of it. :P

Actually, thinking about this, I notice my birds are more jittery during breeding season. I can add/move around feeders during the winter, no problem. But just shifting something during the summer seems to get certain birds all freaked out. Robins and Orioles seem to have the issues more than others.

Indy, IN(Zone 5b)

Maybe if I set it up in early spring that would help. I heard that draping an upside down flowerpot would hide the jugs, but that seems it would involve a lot of jiggling the setup around to try and fill them.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

My understanding of why birds are attracted to moving water is that they can see it AND hear it. Supposedly a steady dripping is enough - they don't need or want a Las Vegas style fountain. Anything new scares birds at first, how long it takes to get used to it varies with the type of bird. All my regular customers are used to the cat having her face pressed against the window, the migrants don't like it. And they recognise me when I come out to fill feeders - they don't always fly off, sometimes they just perch in the nearest tree and watch me.

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