Bird baths

by Adam Pasco

Throwing out some bread and topping up seed and peanut feeders is one thing, but birds also need a constant supply of fresh water.

Removing a sheet of ice from a bird bathMan cannot live by bread alone, and neither can birds! When it comes to garden bird care, food is not the only thing I consider on these cold winter mornings.

Waking up to a thick layer of frost to scrape off the car windscreen before I could leave for work last week, there was one quick mercy mission I needed to make before making my cup of tea. The bird bath! These past freezing nights have completely frozen the water in my bird bath, and I know how important water is to garden birds. Throwing out some bread and topping up seed and peanut feeders or bird tables is one thing, but birds need a constant supply of fresh water. Of course they'll search around for puddles and pools, but I've always had a bird bath in my garden, and they love it.

So, when the kettle boils I make the 20 metre dash down the garden to melt the ice. A whole floating sheet often comes away completely, but occasionally the stubbornly thick ice needs a return visit with another kettle of boiling water to finish the job.

Only now can I make my tea. If only it were warmer I'd sit out and listen to their chorus, but it's too cold for me. As I peer out into the dawn light it's surprising how many birds are active, and just occasionally one visits the bird bath. Yes, a winter job well done.

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Gardeners' World Web User 19/02/2008 at 09:54

I felt so guilty this morning when, on opening the curtains, I saw a blackbird pecking at the ice on our bird bath. This friendly bird is a regular user of the bath and splashes around in it daily, usually emptying most of the water out in the process!

Before flying off to seek water elsewhere he appeared to give me such a 'look' as if to say "Well that's our friendship finished!" that I made de-icing the bath my very next job. I hope he forgives me.

Gardeners' World Web User 22/02/2008 at 09:14

my birds do not like fat balls or bread even if I put oil on the bread and mix it what am I doing wrong. I have a lot of pigeons and not so much birds why. I put seeds and worms and all the nice seeds out for them to. can you help

Gardeners' World Web User 23/03/2008 at 16:39

Could it be badgers? I have a lovely flower bed in my front garden which is adjacent to a 'wild life' area where there are definitely badgers. My winter pansies and daffodils were beautiful and the tulips were just beginning to flower. A couple of mornings ago there was such a mess on the path. Nearly all the tulips (and only the tulips) had been dug up and the bulbs eaten. If this was the badger then my only regret is that I didn't see him. He did leave me a couple but this morning it was obvious that he'd been back for them. Do you know of any food that I could put out for him?

Gardeners' World Web User 07/10/2009 at 09:46

We have been feeding badgers for years with various food items. At the moment they are getting dry complete dog food, peanuts (which they adore) and any fruit that is too ripe for us such as bananas apples plums.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/01/2010 at 21:29

The starlings and blackbirds fight over the shallow bath, as soon as I melt the ice and top up with fresh water. I'm surprised the water doesn't freeze on their wings!" My deep bird bath is a frozen solid block of ice, boiling water makes a jagged hole so I stick to the shallow one for now.

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