Providing fresh drinking and bathing water for birds daily is the way to help keep birds healthy and it costs practically nothing. In return we get to watch them at their bath time best – splashing, drinking and preening. What a way to spend the day.
This is definitely something one can get the children or grandchildren involved with this coming spring; however, birders are often surprised when I remind them that birds are always in search of fresh drinking and bathing water – even during winter.
If you haven’t already got a bird bath, go out and get one. Please! If not, then use a shallow dish/plate and make sure you make filling it part of your daily regime. Clean it regularly, too, and you’ll soon be awash with happy birds.
The two main reasons birds need clean water is of course for drinking and bathing. Fresh drinking water is more important for some species as the weather affects the supply of their preferred foods; for example, Blackbirds would ideally feed earthworms to their young to provide moisture, but dry weather is likely to mean they may be more reliant on the bird foods we put out, such as soft foods. This type of food is absolutely fine for both adult and fledgling, in fact it’s very close to their natural diet, but it doesn’t of course provide the level of moisture found in natural foods such as earthworms.
Birds bathe to keep clean and also to keep their feathers in good condition. A few species – Starling and House Sparrow for example – like to bathe in groups. It’s a great spectacle to see groups of birds trying to take a bath at the same time.