During Melbourne’s long, hot, and dry summers, it can be tricky for our feathered friends to find a drink or shaded place to bathe and cool down. Installing a bird bath in your garden can provide just that, encouraging an array of native species to visit your yard for a splash on a hot day.
Styles of bird baths vary from pedestals, which are great for larger birds like magpies, to hanging dishes for smaller species like wrens and finches. You can also pop a heavy dish, like a terracotta saucer, on the ground for small mammals, lizards and insects to use. Ponds and other water features can also provide a good water source for birds.
When thinking about the location of your bird bath, look for a spot in your garden that is shaded, protected, and minimises the chance of predation—birds won’t use it if they don’t feel safe. Ideally, there should be trees or bushes nearby to seek shelter if they feel threatened. The birds should also be able to see what’s around while using the bird bath, to make a quick escape if they sense a predator (like the neighbourhood cat) is watching nearby. So try to place it somewhere that provides visibility but is not out in the open.
Make sure the water isn’t too deep as smaller birds can easily drown—around 5cm is deep enough. You can also put a large stone or rock in the middle to provide an island for smaller birds to stand on. It should be sturdy so that it won’t tip over if a heavy corella lands on it’s edge, and the surface should be rough, not slippery, so the birds have something to grip onto.
Once you’ve set up your bird bath in the perfect spot, turn on the tap and watch the native birdlife flock in.