Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Water Attracts Winged Wonders, but Make Sure That It Is Shallow

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Water Attracts Winged Wonders, but Make Sure That It Is Shallow

Article excerpt

It takes water. Moving water. That's the magnet that draws migrants, especially warblers, to the yard. That's the magnet that beckons them down from where they forage in the treetops. That's the magnet that pulls them within view of the kitchen window. What better way to see these tropical lovelies passing through.

Most autumn migrants feed on bugs and berries. Given that diet, very few visit seed feeders. Other than an occasional rosebreasted grosbeak checking out black-oil sunflower seeds, feeders hold little attraction for migrating birds.

But water will. Every bird wants a drink. Almost every bird wants a bath. They've been on the wing for weeks, having left Canada's boreal forest after breeding season ended. Now they need to rest, refuel and rehydrate. And clean up a bit. That takes water.

Like most folks, we started out in our yard with a traditional pedestal-mounted birdbath. Then we removed the pedestal, situating the bath on the ground. After all, we reasoned, we've never seen a natural water supply three feet above ground.

Later we added moving water. A little yard pond, about eight feet by 10 feet at its widest, includes a tiny "waterfall" that drops about six inches and gurgles along a one-inch deep "creek" before flowing back into the pool holding the recycling pump.

Unless you're hoping to attract hawks and herons, though, everything about water for birds must be shallow. Very shallow. Warblers, for instance, may be only four-inches long, beak to tail, and stand only three-inches tall. Water less than an inch deep lets them stand, drink and bathe, but not drown.

This week, however, we've watched an assortment of winged wonders at our compact little homemade bubbling rock. We created the "bubble" part by drilling a hole through the high point of an irregularly surfaced rock, inserting a tube through the hole and attaching the tube to a fountain pump. …

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