Thursday, September 21, 2006
Bluebirds and birdbaths
There are three planter pot saucers used as birdbaths in my garden; all of which leak like sieves even though they are plastic. One is a foot across but less than an inch deep and dries up in about two hours, another is about 20 inches across, two inches deep and seeps out in about a day, as does the third which is the same size. I try to fill them every day after scrubbing them out with the hay mulch because they develop a nasty scum each day.
I think this is from the junk off the feathers of the bathing birds and the dirt off their feet. These birdbaths are on the ground which is more comfortable and secure for the birds than ones up on pedestals. Easier to clean, too.
I mulched the flowerbed with hay thinking this would be much more protective for plants in hot weather and also much cleaner for the bird feet. Bird feet pick up a lot of just plain dirt and deposit it in the bird baths. The hay does a fine mulching job but sticks to the bird feet and gets into the bird bath saucers. So that bright idea didn’t work.
Anyway, it’s been a revelation watching the bluebirds, mockingbirds, tiny sparrows, robins and other birds I don’t know, zoom in for baths in the morning and afternoon. The three saucers are within a couple of feet of several loropetalum bushes which provide a pre-bath perch, post-bath shaking-off area and observation post for the shy, tiny ones just waiting for a chance after those big old birds go away.
About an hour after daybreak mostly bluebirds start coming in, lining up around the edges of the saucers, doing musical chairs around the edges until finally somebody jumps in and starts splashing. Then a couple of other birds jump in and there’s a splashing/face-off contest to determine who will finish their bath without being driven out by the interlopers. Those who finish fly up into the loropetalum to dry off, the waiting birds fly down and sometimes dance a jig around the saucer because several birds got there before them.
Even though it appears some birds get left out, eventually everybody gets their bath. The funniest sight is about five birds side-stepping around the saucer, two or three splashing vigorously and three or four hovering overhead waiting for a chance to dive in. These are the bluebirds and they are not naturally hovering birds but somehow they find the strength to flutter overhead until they intimidate somebody to get the heck out of the bathtub.
Then in late afternoon, going on early twilight, the cycle starts again. Everybody flies in for a bath, does the dance, somehow everybody gets a bath and you think they are done. Nope, thirty minutes later, here they come again for a second bath, splashing just as vigorously as if they hadn’t just bathed. There is the same helicoptering up and down over the saucer trying to get somebody out of the bathtub so the rest can have another bath. Remember, we have three water-filled saucers here!
If you don’t have a bird bath, try these big saucers and put them on the ground near low branches. The birds will thank you and you will be highly entertained with bird antics twice a day.
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