young Hooded Warbler stops by for a splash after a
day of grabbing flying insects.
tomato cages and a couple of rescued terra cotta saucers
have made the Garden Guy’s yard a “Finch Riviera.”
It hasn’t been just finches but a host of birds. As a
horticulturist I am pretty much up on plants that birds
eat and have become fairly proficient with the feeder
aspect like I suppose as many of you are.
question is whether you have accomplished the water
aspect of the backyard habitat. One thing that really
stressed me while I was director of the National
Butterfly Center was that it was paramount for the birds
to have water.
Jan Dauphin were the volunteer managers of the birding
area of the butterfly center and developed a
three-fountain system from which water dripped 24 hours
a day and then gently ran out of the fountain to terra
cotta saucers on the ground below. Even though the Rio
Grande was close by, as were irrigation canals, it was
apparent that both the fountains and the saucers below
provided ample water to the birds.
been working on a new home and landscape and my feeders
were immediately bringing in the birds. It makes you
wonder how they knew so fast. Even though I have a
flowing creek, I knew from lessons learned that I needed
to provide a source of water. Admittedly the ‘The
Garden Guy’ does things on the cheap and I think my
idea was a home run. Everything was created from things
around the house.
write I have two birdbaths not only frequented by birds,
but also provided flowers for months. The recipe was two
old large tomato cages and two old terra cotta saucers I
found in a field. I did purchase two 1-gallon
mandevillas from the discount garden graveyard section
of a box store.
the idea: the cages went in the ground, the saucers
placed on top and one mandevilla in the ground in the
center of each cage. The mandevillas immediately took
off as if rewarding me for giving them attention. It
wasn’t long before the birds took notice and visited
the saucers for drinking, bathing and splashing.
maintenance is not hard as I’ll head out to the baths
with a watering can and paper towels and in a minute
things are always presentable to the feathered friends.
Sometimes when I water plants I’ll also send some
spray into the saucers with the water wand to freshen
up. The mandevillas quickly climbed each of the segments
of the cage, encouraging me do a little weaving of the
vines to train the direction of their growth.
been thrilling to see bright yellow American
goldfinches, American robins, mourning doves,
nuthatches, chickadees and a riotous saucer full of
house finches all splish-splashing together. Then a
couple of weeks a go it was a celebratory high five with
my wife when a hooded warbler visited.
is you need to provide water with your feeding
activities and it doesn’t have to be expensive to
work. All you need is probably in your garage or storage
shed. With just a little maintenance and fresh water,
your backyard wildlife habitat will become more
beautiful and essential to visiting birds.