Let's face it, it's been hot out. Summertime, we all get very thirsty. Birds are migrating all over the country and they also get hot and thirsty. In the desert heat, water is an even more vital part of a birds survival, not just during migration, but year round. A well maintained birdbath can even attract birds that don't eat seeds and over time they will rely on you for a fresh drink.
Not all birds will drink alike. For example, some larger birds prefer a birdbath or water feature, while tiny birds like a dripping hose and Hummingbirds love a fountain that bubbles. A variety of offerings will only increase your yard bird populations.
Typically, birds like water low to the ground, close enough to a tree for safety. If they get all wet it's harder for them to take off in flight, so if you don't have a shady tree near by, leave the water in an open area so they can watch for prey birds and cats.
Water depth is probably the most important aspect. The goal is to mimic a natural setting by making a shallow pool of water with a gentle slope, so the birds can wade into the water. Gentle circulating shallow water is even better. Adding sand or stones in the bottom of an over turned metal or plastic trashcan lid, or an old frying pan, would be ideal. Cement or glass birdbaths sold at garden centers are not the best choice for a few reasons, but mainly they are hard to keep clean and birds don't like a slippery surface. You can add a few branches or twigs across the waters edge, but again, they need to feel safe to walk on them.
Whether you're using a shallow pan or deep dish, it is critical to change the water every day. Yes, every day. Bathing birds can leave water unsanitary for other birds, some even leaving nestlings fecal sacs in the water. That dirty water will cause algae to grow, and invite mosquitoes. Studies indicate mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus are most often found in birdbaths. For that reason alone, the water must stay fresh. If algae has developed, scrub the container with a few drops of bleach and water. Let it dry and wash it again. If it won't clean, get a new dish!
While it seems like a lot of work...the birds need us. Water is being used by humans at such a rapid pace, the birds are not always able to find enough in their natural habitats. Thank you for reading my post and happy birding!