I know I never really paid them any attention until we bought our home out here in the Ozarks in 2012. Yes, for over 45 years I lived in Missouri without even noticing a gorgeous red Cardinal or our amazingly blue and beige state bird, the Eastern Bluebird. Sure, maybe I yelled at them for pooping on my windshield or complained at the huge crows making noise outside my window when I was trying to sleep. But, I never really noticed them until we moved out here.
Attracting the Birds
It started with the Tufted Titmouse. That was the first bird that I really noticed landing on our deck to eat some remnants of leftover crumbs from a BBQ or something. It was so cute, it looked like a little stuffed animal and it kept coming up and looking in the windows. We have large glass doors and windows all throughout the house and these curious little birds just kept on peeking in here at us. Well, my cats and I thoroughly enjoyed this so we decided to put out some sunflower seeds and that is how it started. Now we have quite a few bird feeders all over the yard, a few birdhouses, suet cages hanging all over, a few hummingbird feeders, and a birdbath for them to bathe in and drink from. I figured we lived so close to the lake that they did not really need a water feature but after a while, I started thinking that maybe we should add something for those birds who do not like to visit the lake. So, here are some ideas I am thinking of.
Simple Water Feature
Okay, the easiest water feature is obviously just a large bowl or pan full of water. Seriously, a metal pie pan or big Tupperware bowl can be a perfect bird bath for many different birds. And these would be easy to clean and maintain because all you have to do is bring it in and throw it in the dishwasher once a week to keep it clean and sterile enough for the dirtiest birds. Of course, this may not be the most beautiful option. You can always put the pie pan on the ground and surround it with rocks or bricks to make it look like a small pond if you want the natural look. Still easy to clean and maintain. Some other creative options include a serving tray, old garbage can lid, cake pan, or a hubcap. Whatever you have that will hold water will do. Just make sure it is not made of any type of toxic material first.
You can always go buy a birdbath from a store. They have many different styles and sizes from large concrete baths to small metal and glass bowl style baths. If you are wanting something you can clean and maintain easily, think about that while you are shopping. Those huge birdbaths made of stone are almost impossible to pick up and bring indoors so you have to clean them where they are. Most often, they are pretty easy to clean with a little scrub brush and a hose but sometimes you have to use a cleaner and some scrubbing. Make sure the cleaner you use is safe for birds.
How About a Pond?
Sure, birds love ponds, right? Yep, but they can be expensive if you have someone else build it. If you are the do it yourself type, you can build one yourself with a little time and not much money. You do not even have to make a big pond because the bigger they are, the harder they are to maintain. You want to stick to something that is mostly self-sustainable and if you live in an area that freezes during the winter, you will want to think about whether you want to provide a heating element or deeper water to keep it from freezing solid. Birds cannot drink ice, although they may like ice skating. No, not really. Keep the water drinkable with a small water heating element you can buy at a tractor supply or department store. Keeping ponds clean may be a bit more difficult than a birdbath because they attract more birds and other critters and they are always full of water. For a pond that you have water in all year long, you will need to treat it with special chemicals that are safe for birds but tough on algae and other nasty things that will rapidly take over your pond if you let it. Aquatic plants are excellent at keeping ponds clean so you may want to add some of those. Whatever type of water feature you choose for your birds, make sure you place it somewhere they will be safe from predators such as stray cats or dogs. Give them some protective cover they can hide in if needed where they can retreat to when startled or to watch the bath before deciding to take the plunge.