[mou] [mnbird] bird and water feature bonanza

Blaine Seeliger avocet13 at charter.net
Wed Apr 25 19:49:27 EDT 2007

Howdy all,

  I have had a water feature of some sort in my yard for close to 20 years. 
types of baths, heated in winter, small fountains etc. If you feed birds and
enjoy having them on your property this IS a no-brainer. You WILL attract
birds that may otherwise pass you by. After reading Tom's post it got me
thinking, how much of a difference it can make.

 In the past I managed a Wild Bird Center ( approx 10 years ago ) and sold
plenty of baths and small fountains and pond kits. My customers would return
with great results. It does work.

I have learned a few things over the years as well. If considering a water 
moving water works well period. I believe even the shimmering, moving water 
catch the eye of a passer by.
Different speeds at different spots will enhance this. This also keeps the
water from going stagnant, attracting mosquito's, growing algae and just not
being pleasant in general. Keep it Clean.....

 Multiple depths for smaller and larger birds is just as important. I
have seen many Warblers, Finches and Sparrows enjoy water less than an inch
deep. Where the Grosbeaks, Orioles and Robins enjoying closer to two inches.
This is not a rule, only an observation. I'm surprised that in deeper water
I have not seen Crows, Hawks or other large birds at all. Which frequent my
property. Maybe I'm just not around at the right time.

 Cover is very important. Birds are extremely vulnerable bathing and
even drinking. A get away is important, without serving as an ambush point.
I have found that cover growing close to the water but not completely
overgrown is a big benefit. Butterfly bush has worked well. With a come in
and perch spot that isn't over grown, I have had multiple Warblers ( 16 at
one time during migration ) and other small neo-tropics at the same time 
back and forth from these.

 Statistics : I have been keeping tight records of Yard Birds since I moved 
my Property in Farmington in August of 2004. And have seen a total to this
date of 133 species. 63 of these have visited my water feature, which is a
small upper pond of only 115 gallons a 40 foot stream at varying depths and
speeds and a larger bottom pond of less than 1000 gallons. I attribute only
9 species to visiting my property ONLY because of the water feature. This
may seem like a small percentage however the times I have seen a Mourning
Warbler ( 3 times at the water versus 1 time at any other point on the
property ) puts it into perspective. Having a Canada Warbler and Cerulean
Warbler only at the water makes me happy I put the effort into it.

 There are cautions also. I had to help a young squirrel out of it once.
I have taken birds to warm up / dry out in winter
that were not smart enough, not to bathe in winter. Flying from the water to
freeze up quickly. Lucky I was home. I'm sure this also has happened when I
wasn't. However I believe the benefits of accessible water in winter 
out-ways the
negative effects.

 I have also enjoyed many Mammals, Butterflies, Dragonflies, Frogs and 
using the pond. Of course this is a nice way to see them up close and 
doesn't hurt for
photo opportunities. Still waiting for the Indigo Bunting to land on the 
Water Hyacinth
again. Hopefully I will have my camera ready.

 If you can have water of any sort out, do it. You won't be disappointed. I 
know as I
write this the 20 or so White-throated Sparrows passing through are enjoying 

Still waiting for a Western Tanager here.
Blaine Seeliger
Dakota Co
Avocet13 at charter.net

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