Splash out at summer to help the birds

PUBLISHED: 15:11 04 August 2006 | UPDATED: 22:02 28 May 2010

When water is scarce, it can be a struggle for birds to drink and bathe adequately. In dry summers such as this, it is really helpful for birds if you can provide a source of water. There s no need to splash out as it were on an expensive ornamental birdb

When water is scarce, it can be a struggle for birds to drink and bathe adequately.

In dry summers such as this, it is really helpful for birds if you can provide a source of water.

There's no need to splash out as it were on an expensive ornamental birdbath or go to the trouble of creating a pond. Two very simple and effective things to try are plant pot saucers and dustbin lids.

They are ideal because the level of water they can hold should never be enough to pose a threat of drowning.

Young birds in particular can drown if they enter slippery or steep-sided places to drink and cannot get out.

If you are unsure, you can always float a branch in the water to act as a 'lifebelt' that they can clamber on to.

You can place several plant pot saucers around your garden (or just one) and anchor them down with a big stone in the middle (which can also reduce the risk of drowning).

Make a shallow depression for an old dustbin lid in the ground, sink the lid into it to make it secure and you have a great mini pond.

The beauty of mobile water vessels is that you can move them around if they aren't being used in one place.

Get it wrong with a pond and you are stuck with it. That said, ponds are great. So if you do have the time, space and inclination to create one, then go for it.

I have recently moved house and am looking forward to creating a wildlife garden from scratch and making good use of the plastic pond mould that currently lies set in the ground, but empty, in one corner.

It is fascinating to watch birds bathing. They don't just dive in and immerse themselves with water as we do.

They have to be very careful not to get their feathers too wet as this could render them flightless and make them vulnerable to predators.

They flick water over themselves using their beak and wings after easing their bellies in. Birds are communal bathers and you can watch the different species bathing side by side and compare their techniques.

It's that sad time when you know that the swifts will soon be taking their leave.

You can still see them throughout August potentially, but numbers will decline daily, so enjoy them while you can.

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