“I’m not for a minute suggesting that you sprint around the garden hosing down Blackbirds and Robins. That’s NOT the kind of watering I’m encouraging! No. It is as basic as this: provide fresh drinking and bathing water for birds, daily if you can, and you’ll make life so much easier for them, and you’ll enjoy the spectacle of watching them splash around. It’s great fun, and it costs pennies. Get the kids involved this summer.
“If you haven’t already got a bird bath, go out and get one. Please! If not, then use a shallow dish/plate and make sure you make filling it part of your daily regime. Clean it regularly, too, and you’ll soon be awash with happy birds,” forecasts Bill.
The two main reasons birds need clean water is of course for drinking and bathing. Fresh drinking water is more important for some species as the weather affects the supply of their preferred foods; for example, Blackbirds would ideally feed earthworms to their young, but dry weather is likely to mean they may be more reliant on bird foods you put out, such as Bill Oddie’s Mealworm Crumble. This type of food is absolutely fine for both adult and fledgling, in fact it’s very close to their natural diet, but it doesn't of course provide the level of moisture found in natural foods such as earthworms. (You can of course always feed live food).
Birds bathe to keep clean and also to keep their feathers in good condition. A few species – Starling and House Sparrow for example – like to bathe in groups and it’s a great spectacle to see eight or more birds trying to take a bath at the same time! It’s a great idea to get your camera out, and Bill’s encouraging people to share their photos on twitter, via the hash tag #waterthebirds.
“Of course we know it will only be a matter of days before the weather changes and we’ll have a deluge of rain; however, providing fresh water, daily, is a great habit to succumb to as birds need watering all year round – even in winter!”
• It is best to use tap water rather than from a water-butt (unless the water from a butt is ‘new and fresh’ – e.g. after a storm), and the water topped up or replaced whenever necessary (which will probably be at least once a day if the birds take to it).
• It’s likely that a small build-up of algae will occur and attach itself to the bird bath, but this can be easily cleaned of with a stiff brush (an old washing up brush is ideal).
• It’s best not to use any sort of household detergent or cleaning aid to clean the bird bath (just clean water), but, if you do (perhaps because it really does need a very good clean), then it’s important to ensure it’s rinsed out with plenty of clean water so none of the detergent remains. Special wildlife-friendly cleaning products are available on line from www.haiths.com
• Bill Oddie’s Bird Food Recipes are available direct from ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Wilkinson, see: www.billoddiesbirdfood.co.uk for details.
Website: www.billoddiesbirdfood.co.uk or www.haiths.com
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