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Attract more garden birds to your birdbath with these 6 easy tips

On our Facebook Group, Garden Birds of South Africa, we get regular questions about how to attract garden birds more effectively. Often, our members are not allowed to put out seed to attract birds, for example, when they live in a complex that prohibits bird feeders because it often attracts unwelcome visitors like rats and pigeons. A great alternative is to put out water, since most outdoor birds enjoy bathing in water, and it won’t attract pest in the same way as seeds sometimes does.

Follow these tips and your birdbath will become the chirp of the town, with a variety of garden birds flocking to your yard.

1. Various heights and locations.

Just like us, birds can be temperamental. One of the best ways to ensure that you give them a reason to frequent your yard, is to have birdbaths in different locations and at different heights. If your birdbath is on the ground, it might help to attract more birds by adding bowls around your property that are elevated, by placing water trays on a outdoor table or investing in a bath on a pedestal.

2. Pets

Don’t underestimate how the presence of a pet can have an impact on the peace of mind of your feathered friends. If you have pets like cats or dogs, they might be keeping birds from relaxing in your garden. An elevated bird bath can help in this regard. Keeping your pets on one side of the garden, like the back yard, while putting out birdbaths on the other side, will help keep the peace.

3. Shelter

Even if you do not have pets, birds may still be unwilling to embrace the baths you put out if they don’t have shelter nearby to make a quick escape when they feel threatened. Placing birdbaths close to large trees will help solve this problem.

4. Moving Water

Ripples in the water that reflect in sunlight will let the birds know that there is water close by. Consider placing a dripper or mister above your bird bath.

Replace the water in your bird baths at least once a day. Dirty water will do you no favours in attracting birds to your garden. Dirty stagnant water also tends to become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Water rippling and reflecting in the sunlight will let the birds in your neighbourhood know that there is water nearby.

5. Colour & Texture

Bird baths in “unnatural” colours, like pink or blue, might scare off the birds you have worked so hard to attract. Stick with neutral or natural colours and textures, like terracotta, concrete, and clay.

Avoid bird baths with slippery surfaces or bowls that are too deep. Give your feathered friends something to stand on, like larger rocks that stick out of the water. It the bowl is too deep, fill it up with gravel on the one half. That way, smaller birds can comfortably take part in the fun too.

6. Bird-friendly Shrubs

If you are not allowed to put out seeds to attract birds, you can consider planting indigenous shrubs and grasses that birds like to nibble on, like Lion’s Tail, also known as Wild Dagga. This will help create an attractive environment for wild birds and they will be more likely to discover your birdbath when they are already visiting your yard to forage for seeds.

Lion's Tail or Wild Dagga plant, indigenous to South Africa
Lion’s Tail, also known as Wild Dagga. Source: San Diego Zoo

Follow the Drakensberg Facebook page for more advice like this. Join our passionate community of backyard birders at Garden Birds of South Africa if you are an amateur bird photographer, or just like to talk about your feather friends.