Monday, May 08, 2006

The Importance of Water

Surprisingly, water is the one basic need that is most often over-looked when setting up a backyard birding habitat.

The Backyard Bird Watcher
George H. Harrison

We installed our sweet little bird bath in our side garden 3 years ago. The first year, no birds came near and it served more as a decorative addition to our then barely-fledged garden. Last year, a few braves robins bathed themselves; we were jealous over who got to see them ("What?? You got to see the robin?!"). This year, it has been the central attraction a plethora of neighborhood birds. It is so thrilling to see them drinking from the water and bathing in it. This weekend, there was 4-5 birds in queue, fluttering around it - impatiently awaiting their turn. The robins seemed to be the bossiest.

Today, I saw the male cardinal shaking his little tushy in the bird bath, in that funny bird-bathing way. Over the weekend, we saw rosy finches, robins, and chikadees shaking their little tushies too (that little rascal, the house finch, was using it as well). We always stop by the window and watch - transfixed. Aside from the simple pleasure of observing their behavior and beauty, I like knowing that they're enjoying something that we specifically set out for them.

If only babies and birds knew the pleasure they bring to me.

I think the reason that we are finally getting some traffic is that our plants have grown up enough to provide some protective covering for them, so they feel a little more safe. Harrison says, "Bird bathes work well and certainly are an asset to any yard without water. They work best, however, near cover where birds can quickly escape from predators." In our meager 3 year experience, we have definitely found this to be true.

Happy birding!

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