Monday, 21 December 2015

Birds need water in hot dry weather ~ in a safe place

At 35 degrees Celsius it has been very hot day and I noticed it was affecting the birds as well as me: they were regularly coming to their feeding dish on the balcony railing with their beaks open, hopping down to the larger terracotta dish of water which I keep nearby on the deck, and sipping from it before darting away.  They really needed that water and fortunately they knew it was there.  It gets quite a lot of use throughout the year but their use of it today seemed urgent.

Those two terracotta dishes have proved to be ideal for the birds and I highly recommend them: they are heavy enough not to blow away yet light enough to be easily lifted and washed.  Keeping bird dishes clean is important as birds are susceptible to disease like any other creature, and decaying food scraps and fouled water can be a source.  Also importantly they have rims on which the birds can comfortably perch.  

The photograph below was taken at quite a different time of year - in the depths of winter in fact, when the waxeyes were enjoying sugar water (a quarter of a cup of sugar to a cup of warm water) offered to help them through the frosty weather.  You can see how easily they perch on the rim of the dish.

The larger of the two terracotta dishes is perhaps two or three inches deep so holds plenty of water, more than is needed.  I keep the rounded stone in it simply because it pleases me as it serves no particular purpose.  

Both terracotta dishes were bought from garden centres where they are sold as plant saucers for outdoor pot plants.  (They are no good indoors as they are somewhat porous.) 

The deck and its railing are completely safe for the birds as they are well above ground level and there is no access for cats or dogs.  

The water feature shown below is not well placed for birds.  It is simply a glass lamp shade in which I have placed a number of small rocks and, while nice enough in its way, is too low and surrounded by too much greenery to be safe for the birds.  However, it provided a safe enough haven for the young fledgling blackbird when I took this photograph.  It sat perfectly still while it's mother called to it from the tree above. 

You can see what a thicket that dish is in at present.  To be safe for birds it needs to be raised quite a bit and the greenery cut back:

The birds shown in the photo below feeding on the rounds of tree truck were quite safe: there was plenty of room around it and it was of sufficient height that any cats attempting to sneak up on them would easily be spotted.  I later placed a terracotta dish of water in the same place. 

Birds are usually sensibly wary about their environment but at times seem to abandon their watchfulness like these two: far from suffering from the heat they were actually sunbathing!  I took this photo early in the morning.  You can see how dry the garden was at the time:

That summer was very hot and dry and I did a lot of watering.  I like to spray water up into the trees in such weather, to give them some relief.  It is also one way of rapidly cooling the air. One hot afternoon when I was doing this I found I was entertaining a flock of waxeyes: up in the trees the waxeyes fluttered about or simply sat there, obviously from choice so they must have been enjoying it! 

They enjoyed their shower, but most of all, birds, like any other creature, need water to drink - fresh, clean and cool.

My article about how to make birdbaths out of hypertufa can be found here:
My other articles about being in the garden can be found via the link below:

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