DIY Birdbath

I wanted to add a new birdy feature to my cabin so headed to the local hardware and garden stores for a birdbath.

Some stores were out of stock while other had baths that were of the cutesy type with frog or bird figurines on the rim. These baths were about three feet of the ground. There was one bath that caught my attention, it was shaped like a whale’s tail rising out of the ground but the high price tag had me moving on.

I finally went to the local big box hardware store thinking they would have a large selection of birdbaths; they did not.

Now it was time for Plan B: which was to repurpose something in the garden section that was not designed as a birdbath. I was drawn to a large 16 inch terra cotta saucer. The type of saucer that you would rest a large pot on. This seemed to me to make a perfect birdbath that could be placed in the ground.

I placed the saucer in the middle of the freshly weeded dirt patch between my cabin and my neighbors. I leveled the ground with a spade and set the bath so it was slightly unleveled, so there was a “kiddie” end and a deep end. In the deep end I placed four small rocks, I was thinking of them as the ladder at the deep end. I then stabilized the bird bath with larger stones and rocks.

Now it was time to fill it with water and wait for the first bathers. I figured it would take a good two week before the local birds became used to the new water feature in their environment.

A song sparrow was the first bird I saw using the birdbath. Not to bathe but to drink.

I was away in Tahoe for a week and when I returned my neighbor reported that she had not seen any birds in bath but noted feathers in the bath and most of the water was gone. That was certainly promising news!

The first bird I saw using the bird bath was not a bather but a drinker. It was one of the local song sparrows coming in for a sip on a warm summer afternoon!

The first bather I saw came a few days later. It was a dark-eyed junco. There is nothing more enjoyable than watching a bird bathe, propelling water droplets in all directions.

A dark-eyed junco taking an afternoon bath!

I noted that the species that used the bath to bathe or as a drinking fountain were song sparrow, dark-eyed junco, and California towhee. These were bird species that spend time on or near the ground. I wondered if the bath was too low to the ground to be used by species that foraged further up in the trees, such as Steller’s jay, chestnut-backed chickadee, and pygmy nuthatch. It will be interesting to see if there birds could be lured down for a bath, especially on a warm summer’s afternoon.

A few days later I saw a California towhee taking a bath. It gives me such joy, in a joyless time, to see nature using something I’ve made. It’s just a small gesture to help species get along in life.

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