Friday, September 24, 2021

Water - A Vital Resource for Wild Birds

This morning we awoke to this...


... a swirl of ash on the water dish on the ground. A bird coming south from the fires in northern and central California, stopped for a bath or at least a drink.

Especially in the dry weather we are having water is a vital resource for wildlife. On an especially hot dry day, two weeks ago, we even had this great horned owl drop in for a drink.

great horned owl in ground water dish

For long-distance travelers, known stop overs are vital to successful migration. In the past week we've had a female western tanager and a male black-headed grosbeak. Two other migratory birds arrived here in the last 48 hours: a white-crowned sparrow and a male Townsend's warbler. The white-crowned sparrow stopped for food and water, but the warbler stopped to take a bath in our fountain this morning. The native plants may provide him with an insect snack, but we don't directly provide warblers with food. Water and shelter in native vegetation are the draw. 

CA towhee on raised birdbath

You can make a difference for long-distance traveling birds. 

A running fountain, a raised birdbath, or even a shallow dish of water on the ground. 

Different birds and animals have different preferences. Always make sure that the location is safe from domestic cats.

While I was writing this a Cooper's hawk came and drank from the dish. It may be one of the youngsters that spent hot summer days here in 2019. Sitting with their feet in the cool water helps birds cool down. The red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks prefer the raised bird bath. Rabbits and desert tortoises prefer the ground dishes.

Juvenile Cooper's hawks

Climate change challenges wildlife survival. Provide clean water and give back to the natural world. (Still water should be replaced every day or every other day.)