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“Just add water” by Nick Baker

July 4th, 2024
2 minute read

It’s summer! At the mere thought of sunny weather our thoughts turn to drink. Water the lawn... and those containers, hanging baskets and the new plants you bought at the garden centre last weekend. But what about your birds? Have you watered them? 

Finch drinking from the Wild Island Bird BathWhile many of us focus on the buffet rather than the bar, fresh water is the single simplest way to increase the worth of your garden for wildlife. Birds don’t have sweat glands, but they do lose water through their excretions and the simple act of breathing. To replenish this most drink every day, whether it’s hot or not. Those living on an insectivorous diet can go without water for quite a while, as most is provided by their juicy diet. Seed eaters accordingly need to drink more often. 

Finch drinking from the Wild Island Bird BathWater’s also a vital part of feather conditioning. Most species enjoy a good old splash around, thoroughly wetting their feathers with the purpose of dislodging dirt and dust. If you watch a bird bathing, you’re witnessing a very private moment when they’re quite vulnerable and hence have to feel secure. 

Watch as they lose their usual sleek composure. Soaking themselves with a combination of head dipping and vigorous wing flapping, they assume a tatty and bedraggled appearance. Then a quick shake down - before dashing off somewhere high and safe for some more time-consuming preening to get their feathers straightend out and flight-worthy again. 

Nick Baker, naturalist, author and broadcaster

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