Almost every house with a yard, has birds that visit it. If you are offering seed at feeders then you probably have more bird activity than if you weren’t. All of these birds drink and use water daily, especially during the hot summer months which brings us to the topic of this article “how to provide water for birds in the summer”.
Backyard birds are wild animals, hence the term wild birds. Wild birds are able to take care of themselves without the help of humans, unlike domesticated animals like cats, dogs, or even pet birds. Having said that, giving backyard birds easy access to water for drinking and bathing is very easy to do and helps them out tremendously. If you are already offering them food, then you should definitely consider offering them water as well.
Where do wild birds get their water?
Different types of birds stay hydrated in different ways. Insectivorous birds may get a lot of their water from the insects they eat, just like fruit eating birds will get a portion of their water from the juicy berries they eat.
Many other species though just eat seed only. There is no liquid in seeds so these birds must find water elsewhere. Below are some common ways and places that wild birds will get their water.
- Streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, and other natural bodies of water
- Water droplets and puddles that can be found on leaves and other similar places
- Birdbaths and human provided water sources
How to provide water for birds
Believe it or not, you can actually attract more birds to your yard with water than you can simply by providing seed and suet. Only a portion of wild birds will eat food that humans provide, but most birds will use the water we provide. Here are some of the main ways that people help keep backyard birds clean and hydrated.
- Birdbath – You can set out a simple planter drainage tray or you can buy something like this one on Amazon.
- Pond – A small garden pond with a water mover of some type is a great way to provide water for birds.
- Bird waterer – A bird waterer typically hangs from a hook like a feeder but dispenses water like this one.
- Bird mister – Hook this up to a hose and sling it over a tree limb to provide a mist for the birds.
- Moving water – This includes fountains, wigglers, and other water movers. Birds are attracted to moving water.
Hummingbirds need water to bathe and clean their feathers, however due to their small size they often don’t like the same deep water as other birds. If you want to provide water for hummingbirds consider a mister, a misting sprinkler, or a fountain where water pours over a shallow edge.
Keeping the water clean
Keeping the water clean is very important, not just for the birds but for everyone. Bird bath water can get dirty quicker than you think and stagnant water makes for a great mosquito breeding ground. No one wants more mosquitos in their yard, so you’re doing yourself and your family a favor by keeping your bird bath clean and full of fresh water.
Dumping old water and replacing with new water is very easy to do. If you want to go a step further, a bird bath can easily be cleaned with 9 parts water and 1 part vinegar prior to adding fresh water.
Keeping the water from freezing
Birds need water even when it’s cold out, and there are things you can do to keep the water liquid. Here are a few things to consider trying to keep your bird bath from freezing:
- Keep the water full – the more water the harder it is to freeze
- Use a dark surface – darker surfaces absorb heat better
- Position it in the sun so the sun can help melt the ice
- Go manually break up the ice each day, or pour hot water over it
- Add a de-icer to your bath
- Add a floating ball that the wind can blow around to help keep it from freezing
- Invest in a heated bird bath like this one on Amazon
Birds need water to survive
Birds need water to survive. Even though birds do not have sweat glands they still lose water in their droppings, and through their skin due to evaporation, especially during the hot days of summer. Keeping their feathers clean and in good condition is a priority and bathing helps them achieve that.
In short, birds require water for:
How much water do birds need?
While many birds extract water from their food, they will also drink water everyday. Possibly more often in the summertime. As for the actual amount of water the bird will take in, well that obviously varies from species to species based on a number of factors including size and if they get water from their food or not.
For backyard feeder sized birds you can expect them to take in less than an ounce a day, some much less. You can see some more examples in this article for daily bird water intake.
How do birds drink water?
Most birds drink by dipping their bill in water and filling it, then they’ll tilt their head back to swallow. Pigeons are an exception and can suck water up without tilting their heads back to swallow. Pelicans use their large bills as a bucket to collect rainwater. Raptors, like Red-tailed Hawks, tend not to drink water and get all the water they require from the meat in their diet. Hummingbirds similarly don’t drink water, and get all of their liquids from nectar.
Is tap water safe for birds?
As a general rule, if you feel safe to drink and bathe in the water then it’s ok for the birds. This includes tap water, filtered water, spring water, and any other type of water you might use. So it’s perfectly safe to fill up your bird baths from the hose pipe or kitchen faucet. If you are still worried you can test the water by getting a testing kit from Amazon.