When we think of caring for the birds, often the first thing that comes to mind is filling up bird feeders. However, much like us, birds need water as well as food to survive and thrive. In this guide, we’ll look at why birds need water for drinking and bathing.
Why birds need bird baths
There has been plenty of speculation over the decades as to why birds bathe. Contrary to popular opinion, birds don’t bathe just in the summer to cool down. Birds bathe year-round, even in winter, to clean their feathers and remove bacteria and mites.
Feathers replace themselves between every few months to 1 year, so keeping them in good health is essential. The reason you might see birds splashing about frantically in bird baths is because they’re trying to force the water beyond their feathers and onto their skin, cleaning any dirt out.
To encourage birds to visit your bird bath, there are a few things you can do. Ensure your bird feeder isn’t any deeper than 2-3 inches in the middle. If it is, birds could become saturated, which might damage feathers. Also, be sure to place your bird bath in a spot that is partially-sheltered by trees. Many smaller birds fear being exposed to predators, so it could put them off hanging around for a bath!
They’re attracted to the sound of running water, so a two-in-one water feature that also acts as a bird bath would be a great choice. Don’t forget to clean your bird bath regularly, to minimise the spread of disease, avoid slippery algae build-up and reduce the numbers of unwanted visitors (we’re looking at you, mosquitos!)
Why drinking water is essential
Many varieties of shop-bought bird food don’t have the natural moisture that bugs and insects have, which could lead birds to getting dehydrated. One way to combat this would be to soak some Peckish Mealworms in water before leaving them out to increase their water intake.
Clean drinking water should always be on hand, though, especially in the summer and winter months. In the summer, the water evaporates quickly meaning birds might struggle to find somewhere to bathe and drink. Check the birdbath a couple of times a day and replace/top-up when necessary.
In the winter, sources of water can become frozen over. Be diligent in your garden, breaking through and removing pieces of ice before re-filling with clean, fresh water. Under no circumstances should you use anti-freeze or glycerine in the water as this is extremely harmful to birds.
Check out our range of bird baths here.