Watering your Wildlife
Did you know? Watering your garden shouldn’t just extend to the plants, flowers and vegetables you are growing. As the weather warms up, through springtime and into summer, it’s just as important to ensure the wildlife visiting your garden is watered as well.
Who needs water?
Many of us are lucky enough to have a garden, patio or balcony. Some sort of private outdoor space to enjoy and cultivate. And by growing flowers and plants we also entice wildlife into our green spaces. This is great because not only is it exciting and fulfilling to see birds, butterflies, and bees in our gardens; but they are also incredibly useful in helping to pollinate our gardens and control pests like slugs. Alongside the birds and the bees, wildlife-friendly gardening can also entice Britain’s favourite wild mammal, the hedgehog to visit. A wondrous sight in the evening for any wildlife fan.
We often remember to feed these animals but we can forget that they also need water to live. Not just to drink but also to bathe, remove parasites and cool down.
Which bird bath should I buy?
There are some important points to remember when buying a bird bath. The first is that it has sloping sides or shallow steps to allow different species of birds and types of wildlife to enjoy the bath. You can also add a selection of stones and rocks to the middle of the bath to offer birds different perching positions. The bath should have a slightly rough surface so that wildlife can grip and won’t slip into the water or off the bath.
Look for materials which are environmentally friendly like our Shenstone Bath which is made of Clayplas - a mixture of recycled second life plastics and clay. And our new Nature Oasis which is made from sustainable Polyboo - a mix of 100 per cent recycled plastic and natural bamboo fibres. Polyboo also comes with a frost proof guarantee - this is important because birds need water during cold winters too when ponds and puddles may be frozen over.
What if I want to offer water to other wildlife?
It isn’t just the birds that we want to worry about. Butterflies, bees, hedgehogs, badgers; all of the wildlife in our garden needs water to live. The pollen and nectar, which make up a solitary bee’s diet, don’t contain a lot of moisture and so bees need to have a water source as well as food. We have also captured hedgehogs on camera, even in the early cooler spring days, drinking for long periods of time. Hibernation makes hedgehogs hungry and thirsty, and when the weather hots up, it becomes even more important to leave out hydrating water (never milk!) alongside any food you provide for hoggies.
A small wildlife pond is another idea and can entice in even more wildlife to your garden, like frogs, toads and newts. Find out more about introducing a pond to your garden here.
Where to place your bird bath?
The best way to offer water for animals is to place several bird and wildlife baths at different heights and in different locations around the garden.
Birds can feel very exposed and become quickly vulnerable in a bird bath. They like baths which are raised off the ground, giving them a clear sight line. So don’t heavily conceal your bath. Instead place it close to a bush or thorny tree, giving the birds somewhere to quickly find refuge, should a cat appear.
Don’t place your bird bath underneath a feeder where seed will regularly fall into it causing a build up if you forget to clean it out. If we’re experiencing very hot temperatures, then it’s best to move the bath into the shade. But once the weather cools, move it back to a sunny spot to minimise the chance of it freezing overnight. Lastly, ensure it is safe and won’t easily tip over.
It can take time for your garden birds to find your bath, just as it can for feeders. But if you’re not getting any success, try to move it around the garden to find the optimal place for your birds.
Lastly, you might want to try and place your bath close to a window so that you can actually enjoy seeing the birds who visit it!
Alongside a tall bath for garden birds, you want to place something at ground level for hedgehogs and other mammals. And a third very shallow bath can be placed inside a flower bed for the bees and butterflies to enjoy.
Can I make my own bird bath?
You don’t have to use specifically designed ornamental baths either. A saucer of water or a shallow Tupperware pot is best for hedgehogs because they will be able to get their paws onto it to drink from inside. Or you could dig into your garden, sinking something like an upturned bin lid or washing up bowl into the ground, making a small wildlife pond. Equally a plate of water would be good for bees. Just ensure it is shallow enough that they can climb out if they accidentally fly into the middle. It’s best to fill both of these with a few stones or small rocks to help wildlife access the water.
How do I look after my bird bath?
The most important thing when buying a bird bath is that you don’t just buy it, fill it once and then leave it standing aimlessly. Bird baths can quickly grow mould, especially in hot weather. And this can spread disease amongst wildlife. It is best practice to fill your bird bath every day and wash it at least once a week. That way you’ll know that the water you are offering your birds, insects and mammals is clean and fresh and doing the best by them. When you wash your bath, try to use hot water and an environmentally friendly washing up liquid. That will ensure you’re killing any bacteria that’s built up inside. You can just use a redundant washing up sponge. Or our specifically designed Hygiene Kits are great at getting between the shallow steps and into grooves.