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Garden Bird Baths

Bird Bath Facts

Things Everyone Should Know About Bird Baths

Everyone knows that birds like to sing, fly and eat but bathe? If you want a garden filled with the sights and sounds of happy garden birds then a bird bathe is the next thing to invest in after a bird feeder. Because y’know what? Birds love to bathe.

Bird Bath Facts

What are bird baths for?

While scientists aren’t quite sure exactly why birds need to bathe, it’s undeniable that they love to do so. Anyone who’s witness a bird taking a bath will remember the splashing, the washing and smoothing of feathers and the stop start motion as they wash, look around, wash, look around.

There are some interesting theories about the necessary nature of bird bath times and one such theory is improved flight performance when feathers are cleaned. Feathers are replaced around once a year but take huge amounts of wear during that time and must be taken care of.

Bird Bath

Bird baths also provide drinking water which is especially useful in the height of summer when it’s hot and the dead of winter where other sources may be frozen over. How to stop your birth bath freezing? Pour warm water into it (not hot!) and watch as the birds scramble to bathe and drink.

Whatever reasons draw garden birds to bird baths, it’s clear that they love them and a bird bath is a great addition to any garden. Not only does it provide a much needed place for birds to bathe and drink, but it also provides you with hours of amusement watching them splash and frolic.

 

Types of bird bath

If you have a bird feeding station, it may come with a bird bath like that on the Gardman Deluxe Bird Feeding Station. These are great for small birds but larger birds like blackbirds and even pigeons like to visit bird baths and a more solid bath is a good idea.

Typical bird baths are either stone or ceramic and there’s a good reason for this. Firstly, they’re solid and sturdy and can take the splashing of even large birds and secondly, they are often carved or cast with patterns to be more aesthetically pleasing. Stone and ceramic bird baths can also take a lot more wear and are waterproof. Most are also freestanding.

 

Things to consider when looking at bird baths

Birds get very distracted when it comes to bathing and they become very absorbed in the act of flicking water over themselves and preening their feathers. Although they do often look up and check they’re safe, they’re still at one of their most vulnerable times when in a bird bath.

  • Keep in a clear area: It’s imperative that you place the bird bath away from places cats can hide or jump from. The best place is in the middle of an open lawn or at least somewhere with a reasonable clear area around it; this means birds can see anything coming from a distance and have time to fly away.
  • Elevation: Bird baths should also ideally be elevated on a podium and stone bird baths are classic examples of this. Often with heavy bases, stone bird baths are frequently around three foot off the ground and offer good protection and visual signals from cats.
  • Able to survive freezing: Ceramic bird baths should be fired and glazed in order to survive water freezing inside of them and all bird baths should have grippy rims so birds can stand safely. Glass bird feeders should also be designed to survive freezing.
  • Graduated depth: Your new bird bath will attract all sorts of birds from tiny wrens to collared doves and as a result you need it to be shallow and deep enough for all. Birds don’t submerge themselves and can easily drown in deep water – say, a water butt or raincatcher – so you don’t need a deep bird bath. It must be shallow enough for the tiniest birds to stand safely and two inches of water at the deepest point is sufficient.
  • Fresh water: Bird baths should contain both freshwater and only fresh water! Don’t leave water for weeks at a time otherwise it will grow algae and become a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes. To stay clean, birds need clean water. While some people happily change the water every few days or simply let the rain fill it and the sun dry it away, you can also get pump-systems integrated into baths. Some are even solar-powered and circulate water. A great reason to do this? Birds keep an ear out for the sounds of running water and will soon come to see what’s happening if they hear water moving.

 

Heated bird baths

If you live in an area that freezes in winter, you might want to consider a heated bird bath. Birds find winters extremely cold, so cold that wrens in particular seek each other out and huddle together to stay warm in large numbers! Providing a safe place to drink and bathe in fresh warm water truly transforms garden birds’ winters.

 

Best Bird Bath Bargain

RSPB Bronze Bird Bath 

 

RSPB Bronze Bird Bath

If you’re looking for a bird bath but don’t want to spend lots of money on something you’re not sure off then the RSPB Bronze Bird Bath is a good starting point.

Very affordable with the profits going into the charity, the RSPB Bronze Bird Bath has a graduated, shallow dish for keeping all sorts of birds clean as well as safe. Durable, weatherproof and easy to clean, this bird bath looks classic but remains lightweight for you to move it easily. The guys at the RSPB even supply it with ground pegs to ensure its stability.

Assembly is very easy and while it’s made of resin, it looks exactly like full bronze metal. I’m a huge fan of this bird bath and it’s the best way to look after your garden birds without committing to the higher prices of stone bird baths.

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10 Common Garden Birds

So What are the 10 Most Common Garden Birds?

Britain is a country of garden birds whether you live in city centre London or out in the Cotswolds. With so many green spaces combined with fertile land and plenty of rain, plants and birds flourish together and only in the dead of winter will you take a stroll outside and perhaps not hear birdsong. Attract even more birds to your garden with one of these squirrel resistant bird feeders.

But who are these bouncy little birds that alight on the lawn, survey the area and then pull up a worm? Who is that bright blue sphere of feathers or that yellow fellow with the loud song? Who exactly are we feeding when we put out our birdseed – and what’s their story? You can always get tons more info from the RSBP here.

 

#1 Robin

robin garden bird 

The European robin is one of the most common garden birds you’ll see hanging around your fences, lawn and, of course, on Christmas cards. These curious and colourful birds tend to stay in the same area and so if you have a robin or two in your garden, chances are you’ll get to know them quite well. In fact, the males are very territorial and will happily lay claim to your garden.

Robins aren’t particularly afraid of humans, which is possibly why we have such affection for them as a nation. If you’re digging in your garden, chances are you’ll have a robin perched nearby, ready to relieve you of any worms or interesting nibbles you might find.

Markings: Both male and female adult robins look similar with brown backs and orangey red breasts. Juvenile robins tend to be on the scruffy side and lack the iconic red breast, instead having a more dappled appearance.

 

#2 Great Tit

Great Tit Garden Bird

The Great Tit is a colourful and common garden bird that has a distinctive black head with white cheeks and a yellow breast and a black stripe down the centre. They tend to stay in Britain all year round but sometimes migrate if it’s particularly cold.

Common in forests and gardens throughout the UK, great tits are territorial and if a pair take up residency in your garden then they may well be there to stay. They enjoy feeding from bird tables and feeders and in winter they even team up with other members of the tit family to forage for food. Great tits will also make ready use of bird nesting boxes and thus provide us with wonderful entertainment all year round.

Markings: These charming garden birds are members of the tit family and are the largest, hence the ‘great’. Male great tits tend to be more vivid in colouring and look like little works of art, while the females and juveniles have more muted colouring and a less obvious black stripe.

 

#3 Blue Tit

Blue Tit Garden Bird

No British garden would be complete without a blue tit or two and this common garden bird is easy to spot with its blue cap and blue flashes on the wings. Like the great tit, the blue tit also has a yellow underside and is a keen visitor to bird tables, bird baths and feeders.

Acrobatic and lively, blue tits are very entertaining to watch scouting for food and like insects and spiders as well as birdseed. Smart and inventive blue tits have been known to get into all sorts of food containers and will stay all year round in the gardens of Britain.

Markings: With a bright blue cap, white cheeks and a distinctive black mask-like line across the eyes, the blue tit looks a little like a miniature superhero. Dusty blue wings and a yellow underside means that this little bird cannot fail to be identified although juveniles can be scruffier with more yellow undersides.

 

#4 Goldfinch

 

The goldfinch is a truly exotic looking bird and bigger than the tit family. Native to Europe, the goldfinch can be seen more and more in British gardens but moves more readily to warmer areas, even within the same country, should winters get tough.

To attract goldfinches to your garden, nyjer seeds available here are their catnip and will solidify their presence in your garden.

Markings: Both male and female goldfinches look very similar with a bright red circle on their otherwise black faces. With a yellow strip on their black wings and a brown back, these multi-coloured birds are easy to identify.

 

#5 Blackbird

black Bird Female

Possibly the most common of garden birds, the blackbird is likely to be seen hopping around the lawn of most gardens. Usually in mating pairs, male blackbirds are particularly easy to spot with their jet black bodies and bright yellow beaks.

These birds are territorial and the pair will adopt your garden and stay all year round, bringing up their offspring there too. Particularly fond of worms and insects, they’re usually pulling things up from the flowerbeds and lawn and the male blackbird has a distinctive a beautiful song. These birds will feed off bird tables and wash in bird baths but tend to avoid bird feeders which are designed for smaller garden birds.

male blackbird garden bird
Male Blackbird

Markings: The male blackbird is jet black with a yellow beak and a yellow ring around the eyes. The female however, is dappled brown and has a brown beak. The juveniles look similar to the females but will be scruffier and probably following the parents about on the lawn, demanding food.

 

#6 Sparrows

Another extremely common garden bird, the sparrow is a prolific native to the UK and can be seen not only in gardens but also in cities. They’re often hopping about parks and pavements picking up crumbs dropped by humans and aren’t very shy at all.

Sparrows are big seed eaters and are very satisfied visitors to bird feeders and bird tables. Unlike most birds, sparrows have spread successfully around the world and exist almost everywhere humans do. This makes them a friendly face wherever you are in the world.

Sociable birds, sparrows are often in flocks and like to bathe in water baths as well as dust. They’re usually chirping away to their friends and while they mostly live in smallish groups, their flocks can be in the thousands.

Markings: The male sparrow is more distinctive than the female, with a black bib around and under its beak. With a pale beige underside and flecked brown and black wings, sparrows are easy to spot – just drop some crumbs and see who turns up.

 

#7 Magpies

magpie bird

Embedded in folklore, superstitions and rhymes, magpies are not also seen as a favourable garden bird although they are very common. Usually residing in mating pairs, magpies are extremely intelligent and highly cunning.

[su_box title=”TRUE FACT!” box_color=”#cb782c” radius=”8″]Magpies are the only animal in the world that can recognise itself in the mirror and isn’t a mammal![/su_box]

Due to their omnivorous nature (they feed on baby birds and eggs as well as seed, berries and insects), as well as their highly strategized hunting abilities, magpies are often seen as bad but actually, they are simply very, very smart and with the right attitude, should be welcomed as guests to the garden. If you have one pair of magpies using your garden, you won’t have any more.

Markings: Magpies are very distinctive and not just because of their intriguing behaviour. They are glossy and bright with metallic blue flashes along their wings and large bright white patches on their sides and undersides while being otherwise black with black beaks. The juveniles are a muted version of this.

 

#8 Wren

Eurasian Wren garden bird

Small and loud, wrens are extremely common and are wonderful birds to have on your bird feeder or table. Mottled brown with yellow beaks, wrens are particularly known for their beautiful and complex songs.

Keen on insects and seeds, wrens are common visitors to British gardens and when they build nests, it’s the male who builds them (multiple nests) and the female will choose the one she likes.

Markings: Wrens are dappled brown with yellow beaks and brown legs. While unspectacular to look at compared to members of the tit family, the wonderful songs that erupt from these tiny birds more than makes up for their lack of colour.

 

#9 Chaffinch

Chaffinch (Fringilla_coelebs) bird

Another common garden bird is the chaffinch, a brightly coloured garden bird that can often be seen in hedgerows as well. Resident all year round in Britain, chaffinches have loud and distinctive songs that, once heard, can be picked out easily in woodlands and gardens.

Chaffinches are big seed eaters and will spend a lot of time at bird feeders and bird tables, especially in winter and spring. Pretty and tuneful, chaffinches are much loved in Britain and if you hang up a bird feeder, it won’t be long until you have your own to watch.

Markings: Male chaffinches have rusty coloured faces and undersides with a dusty blue cap and black and white wings. The female is beige and much less distinctive.

 

#10 Wood pigeon

pigeon garden bird

These lumbering birds can often be seen in gardens, especially if you have a bird table. Because they have a tendency to scare off smaller garden birds and scatter seed around with their ungainly wings, many people prefer to have hanging bird feeders, where the heavy wood pigeon cannot hold onto.

Despite their reputation as pests, with a hanging bird feeder, wood pigeons aren’t a bad addition to the garden and won’t make a nuisance of themselves. Usually seen trundling around lawns looking for worms and insects to eat, they also like to bathe in bird baths.

Markings: Grey with a dusky pink breast, wood pigeons have white patches at the base of their necks and can be heard cooing. They’re quite large and are heavy enough to trigger the weight displacement system on squirrel proof bird feeders – should they have the ability to land on the perch – and as a result will soon discover that they cannot feed from these bird feeders.