Ideally, every garden across Australia and elsewhere in the world, would include at least one well tended bird bath, located close to some shrubs, for local bird species to enjoy.
Neigbourhood birds appreciate not only a welcome drink, but a chance to bathe and wash their feathers on a regular basis and your birdbath, will provide you with many hours of pleasure as you make bonds with and observe many wild species in your garden.
Your garden will benefit too, with the bonus of extra nitrogen being delivered through the manure of these small creatures, as well as fabulous natural control of garden pests they enjoy eating, such as aphids, slugs, caterpillars and scale insects!
They also pollinate some plant species and I credit my New Holland Honey Eater friends, here in Ballarat, with the annual fruiting of my camelias and viable seed setting of my mandevilla, as these birds just love their nectar and regularly feed on the flowers. They also love the flowers of rosemary, kniphopfias and aloes, none of which are indigenous plant species!
Avian visitors also perform the service of aerating the soil and lawn, so for the small effort of keeping a couple of birdbaths clean and full, you receive multi benefits and many hours of enjoyment observing the behaviours and interactions of such delightful garden visitors.
The most popular bird baths tend to be the pedestal variety, but, according to Birdlife Australia, these will only cater for a limited number of usually common and often confident backyard species, such as magpies, magpie larks. (peewees), lorikeets and parrots, New Holland Honey Eaters and more.
More skittish and insecure finches and other small birds much prefer a shallow bird bath closer to the ground with grasses and spikey shrubs close by for instant cover.
I draw great pleasure from the pedestal birdbath I have, just beyond the doors of my sunroom, where I regularly observe a parade of regular users. It has been located in the same position for over 20 years, so all the local bird species seem to know where to come for a bit of local avian indulgence and a cool drink. The sunroom serves as a fabulous human "hide", so even skittish species utilise it on a regular basis, only departing if I physically stand up, or enter the garden.
Within the birdbath, I have placed a rock, partly to minimise water used in filling it up, but equally to allow birds of different sizes to have depths suitable to their own needs and comfort. As a result, anything from the size of a magpie, or raven, to a tiny New Holland Honey Eater make good use of it.
With changes happening in my front garden, I am designing a zone to attract small finches and other tiny skitish bird species and plan a second bird bath, low to the ground, geared to their needs. The area is located as strategically as my back garden bird bath, close to my front windows, so that I again can relish watching the smaller species enjoying themselves, unaware of my presence. It will be planted out with indigenous plant species with tiny spiky foliage and grasses to also supply them with shelter and food.
Bird baths can be cheaply, easily and creatively made from recycled terracotta pot saucers, old frypans or similar and a few old bricks to support them. A well placed rock or brick, will add weight and stability and prevent gusts of wind from sending it flying. Of course, plenty of designer bird baths are available at garden retailers and make a great feature in any garden, when placed within a couple of metres of bird safe foliage !
In case you need any more convincing, watch the Youtube video below, courtesy of Birdlife Australia!