Like all animals, birds need water to survive. Water is most scarce in fall, especially this year. Though they can extract some moisture from their food, most birds drink water every day. Birds also use water for bathing, to clean their feathers and remove parasites. For these reasons, a dependable supply of fresh, clean water is attractive to most birds. In fact, a birdbath will even bring birds that don’t eat seeds and wouldn’t visit your feeders.
Providing water for birds can also improve the quality of your backyard bird habitat. Place your birdbath in the shade, near trees or shrubs if possible. A shady location slows evaporation and keeps the water fresh longer. Furthermore, birds can’t fly well when they’re wet, so they’re vulnerable to predators when they’re bathing. With cover nearby, they’ll feel safe; they can escape quickly if their splashing is interrupted. It’s also a good idea to put some sand or rocks in the bottom of the bath, to give the birds sure footing.