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The Importance of Fresh Water for Garden Birds

Tuesday, 23rd February 2010

Fresh water for garden birds is essential for hydration, but water also helps them to select their preferred foods. Read this blog to find out why.
The two main reasons birds need clean water is of course for drinking and bathing. For drinking, this becomes more important for some species when the weather affects the supply of their preferred foods. So for example, Blackbirds would ideally feed earthworms to their young, but dry weather is likely to mean they may be more reliant on foods you put out such as Huskfree Advance. This type of food is absolutely fine for both adult and fledgling, but doesn't of course provide the level of moisture found in natural foods such as earthworms.

Bird Bathing in Clean Water

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 and it's a great spectacle to see eight or more birds trying to take a bath at the same time.

It is best to use tap water rather than from a water butt (unless the water from a butt is 'new and fresh' - e.g. after a storm), and the water topped up or replaced whenever necessary (which will probably be at least once a day if the birds take to it). It's likely that a small build-up of algae will occur and attach itself to the bath, but this can be easily cleaned of with a stiff brush (an old washing up brush is ideal). It's best not to use any sort of detergent or cleaning aid to clean the bird bath (just clean water), but, if you do (perhaps because it really does need a very good clean), then it's important to ensure it's rinsed out with plenty of clean water so none of the detergent remains.

And finally, providing clean water is important year-round. In fact it's particularly important to ensure clean water is available when the ground is frozen in the depths of winter. So it might mean chipping the ice out of your bird bath on a cold January morning! We have a range of bird baths on this site.

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