When the Catbird’s Seat is the Bird Bath


the bird bath awaits its next visitor

the bird bath awaits its next visitor

   There I sat, at a little table on our balcony, sipping wine and pondering stinkbugs.  Yes, stinkbugs.  Thinking others might share my curiosity about what the infestation of these annoying creatures is all about, I planned to do some research and then publish it on THE EARTH CONNECTION.  

     Then a solitary, distinctive ‘sploosh’ emerged from the late afternoon quiet.  Happy to set aside my joyless research, I craned my neck to see what was going on in the bird bath across the driveway from my perch.  

     Peering around balcony railing slats and between holly branches, I smiled to see an actual bird in the small, stone pool that rests in the grass just yards away.  

     There, in the nest-shaped bath a catbird stood up tall, his bearing almost kingly.  He nearly filled the bath, his private pool for the moment.  Then the dark grey bird’s wings became a blur, stirring up a summery spray of water.   He rose up even taller then, fluttered those wings again, and kicked up more spray.

     But the catbird did not linger in the bath.  After those two flurryings of wings, he hopped onto the pool’s rough stone rim, wiggled his tail feathers, turned, and hopped back into the water.  After another whirring or two of wings, he hopped onto the opposite rim, shook water from his tail, turned, and jumped back into the water.  Then he actually did linger for a bit before darting up to a maple branch, where he completed his ablutions–shaking wings, tail feathers, wings again, until satisfied that he was adequately dry.

     Since that serendipitous moment, I have been watching the bird bath for other visitors.  I have since seen shows put on by chickadees and robins.

     So why do birds visit bird baths?  Do birds need to bathe?  Is it for fun?  Do all birds like bird baths?

     It wasn’t hard to find answers to my questions.  Apparently, all birds need a source of clean water for bathing and drinking.  Hawks, warblers, owls, hummingbirds, and many other species will take advantage of a clean, fresh bird bath.

     I was surprised to learn that a shallow bath is much better for birds than a deep one.  Two to three inches at the deepest is recommended to ensure that birds do not drown.

     I was also surprised to learn about the importance of keeping a bird bath clean.  Stagnant water can harbor an unhealthy concentration of bacteria, which can cause avian diseases.  Thus, an improperly maintained bird bath can be a greater harm than a benefit to birds.

     Here are a few tips for keeping the bird bath clean and healthful for birds:

  • Dump out the old water before refilling.
  • Use the pressure of a hose to help remove slimy build-up.
  • A frequent scrubbing with a scrub brush helps keep the water clean.

    I am going to be paying attention to the bird bath this summer.  And I’ll be keeping it clean in order to entice more birds to come and entertain me.—April Moore





5 Responses to “When the Catbird’s Seat is the Bird Bath”

  1. Tanya Says:

    Fascinating! Maybe I’ll get one as well. I also look forward to being educated about those horrible stinkbugs.

  2. James Says:

    It is not surprising that birds – descendants of the dinosaur age – have hydration needs similar to lizards, their antecedents in kind. http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Reptile-Health/Habitats-Care/Reptile-Water-Requirements/

  3. Egirl Says:

    April, you soar, girl.

  4. Gail Says:

    This was so much fun to read! It makes me want to get a bird bath for sure. It brought back memories from my childhood when we had a bird bath and would sometimes watch one bird swoop down on another in competition for it.

    Bring on the stink bug story!

  5. Anne Says:

    This comment is from Anne:

    Thanks, April; enjoyed the Earth Connection very much. I have maintained a bird bath for years; nothing so splendid as yours–On Silver lake Rd (and now here at the apartment).it was a big plastic plant saucer that sat on the corner of the rail around the deck. Being in good view of the kitchen sink, I had much entertainment watching as different birds used different approaches to bathing. Robins really take the prize, though, both for enjoyment and the little water left after they go at it! I hope you’re enjoying summer as much as it seems you are. Cheers, Anne

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